Posts Tagged ‘James Renwick’

The beauty of 10th Street’s English Terrace Row

October 16, 2017

Shared balconies stretching across several buildings in a row aren’t the norm in New York City.

But a graceful cast-iron communal balcony ties together the brownstones at numbers 20 to 38 West 10th Street. It’s one of the many features that make what used to be called “English Terrace Row” on this Greenwich Village block so harmoniously beautiful.

English Terrace Row, known these days as Renwick Row, was built between 1856 and 1858 by James Renwick Jr., the architect behind circa-1846 Grace Church three blocks east down 10th Street.

Renwick left his stamp all over the mid–19th century the city; he designed banks and brownstones, charity hospitals on East River islands, and other Gothic-style churches, like St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

While he brought Gothic-style architecture back into vogue, he was also forward-thinking.

The houses of English Terrace Row are the first brownstones built without the customary high Dutch-style stoop, “placing the entry floor only two to three steps up from the street in the English manner,” states the AIA Guide to New York City.

“Terrace” is also borrowed from the British.”Terrace does not refer to the handsome balcony that runs the length of these houses; it is the English term for rows of houses, such as found in the Kensington and Paddington districts of London in the 1840s, 1850s, and 1860s.”

“New Yorkers who visited England were impressed with this style and saw good reason to adopt it upon their return.”

Apparently one of those New Yorkers was a banker named James F.D. Lanier, who commissioned Renwick to build the row at a time when spacious brownstones with winding inside staircases and enormous windows were all the rage among well-to-do city residents.

Wide and elegant, and shrouded by trees and swathed in amber light in the evening, they stand 159 years later and make this stretch of 10th Street one of the most spectacular in the city.

The photo archive at the GVSHP site has some interior shots as well. For more on the Gilded Age city’s brownstone craze and James Renwick’s architectural gems, take a look through The Gilded Age in New York, 1870-1910.

Broadway and East 10th Street: 1911 vs. 2011

November 21, 2010

“Here Broadway approaches Union Square from the south, with what is probably the midday crowd on its wide sidewalks,” states the caption of this photo, published in a fascinating book of photos, New York Then and Now.

Sure, the businesses lining this stretch of the city’s longest street have changed in 100 years; see the signs on the left for a few furriers.

The hotel on the left is the fashionable St. Denis, built in 1852 by James Renwick, better known as the architect who designed Grace Church, at right, in the 1840s. (He was also behind St. Patrick’s Cathedral.)

Broadway teems with trolleys going in both ways. It’s like a game of Frogger. No wonder pedestrians were always dodging them—not always with success.

The same view exactly a century later shows that this corner is still prime real estate, and many of the buildings survive, with nail salons, delis, restaurants, and boutiques renting space.

Too bad you can no longer see the Flatiron Building from this vantage point.

Rhinelander Gardens: then and now

December 30, 2009

Designed by James Renwick—architect of Grace Church on Tenth Street and Broadway and St. Patrick’s Cathedral—these “three-decker” row houses stood at the corner of Sixth Avenue and 11th Street since 1855.

I’m not sure what connection they have to the Rhinelanders—an old New York family—but the family probably owned the land they were built on, hence the name.

Another Rhinelander real estate site is just around the corner on Seventh Avenue.

Berenice Abbott took the photo in 1937. Rhinelander Gardens only lasted another 20 years. Amazingly, the city tore them down (and their lovely front lawns and cast-iron balconies!) to build P.S. 41.

The school is very 1950s. The tenement apartment building on the far right, the Unadilla, still exists.

Lost New York, by  Nathan Silver, published in 1967, has this to say:

“The setback fronts of the houses were the result of the imperfect match of the old Greenwich Village street pattern with the upper Manhattan grid. Some deep fronts can still be seen on 11th Street, but the Rhinelander row was demolished in the late 1950s.”