Contemporary government buildings have a reputation for functional ugliness.
So they commissioned the McKim, Mead, and White–designed Manhattan Municipal Building at One Centre Street, which was completed in 1914.
One of the building’s loveliest features is outside: the vaulted ceiling at the south arcade.
Here, surrounding the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge-Chambers Street subway station, are beautiful columns and white Gustavino ceiling tiles.
Look up at them for a brief moment, and you might imagine yourself at an Italian palazzo rather than in Lower Manhattan.
The vaulted ceilings are a reminder of the Gustavino-tiled ceilings of the long-shuttered City Hall subway station, all glorious curves and colors and light.