Brownstones in New York City

Saturday, 3 December 2022 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Architecture, Living, Working, Building, New York City
Reading Time:  11 minutes

Brownstones in Park Slope © Mikeruggy/cc-by-sa-4.0

Brownstones in Park Slope © Mikeruggy/cc-by-sa-4.0

Brownstone is a brown TriassicJurassic sandstone that was historically a popular building material. The term is also used in the United States and Canada to refer to a townhouse clad in this or any other aesthetically similar material. Brownstone, also known as freestone because it can be cut freely in any direction, was used by early Pennsylvanian Quakers to construct stone mills and mill houses. In central Pennsylvania, some 1700s-era structures survive, including a residence known as the Quaker Mill House.

Apostle Island brownstone
In the 19th century, Basswood Island, Wisconsin was the site of a quarry run by the Bass Island Brownstone Company which operated from 1868 into the 1890s. The brownstone from this and other quarries in the Apostle Islands was in great demand, with brownstone from Basswood Island being used in the construction of the first Milwaukee County Courthouse in the 1860s.

Hummelstown brownstone
Hummelstown brownstone is extremely popular along the East Coast of the United States, with numerous government buildings throughout West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, and Delaware being faced entirely with the stone, which comes from the Hummelstown Quarry in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania, a small town outside of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The Hummelstown Quarry is the largest provider of brownstone on the east coast. Typically, the stone was transported out of Hummelstown through the Brownstone and Middletown Railroad.

Portland brownstone
Portland brownstone, a.k.a. Connecticut River Brownstone, is also very popular. The stone from quarries located in Portland, Connecticut and nearby localities were used in a number of landmark buildings in Chicago, Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, New Haven, Hartford, Washington D.C., and Baltimore.

New Jersey brownstone
Quarries from the Passaic Formation in northern New Jersey once supplied most of the brownstone used in New York City and New Jersey.

South Wales brownstone
Devonian aged sandstone is commonly used in Southern Wales.

Brownstones in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood © flickr.com - Rick Berk/cc-by-2.0 Brownstones in Bedford-Stuyvesant © Newyork10r Brownstones in Brooklyn © flickr.com - spurekar/cc-by-2.0 Brownstones in Cobble Hill Historic District © Beyond My Ken/cc-by-sa-4.0 Brownstones in Crown Heights © Andre Carrotflower/cc-by-sa-4.0 Brownstones in Harlem © flickr.com - edwardhblake/cc-by-2.0 Brownstones in Park Slope © Mikeruggy/cc-by-sa-4.0
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Brownstones in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood © flickr.com - Rick Berk/cc-by-2.0
There are many brownstones throughout numerous New York City neighborhoods, especially in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Park Slope, Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill, Gowanus, Windsor Terrace, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, Brooklyn Heights, Bedford Stuyvesant, and Sunset Park. Smaller concentrations exist in parts of Bay Ridge, Williamsburg, Bushwick, Greenpoint, and Prospect Lefferts Gardens. Brownstones are also scattered throughout Manhattan from the Lower East Side to Washington Heights, with notable concentrations in the Upper West Side, Upper East Side, Harlem and East Harlem. In Queens and The Bronx, the historic districts of Long Island City and Mott Haven also host many brownstones. Brownstones also predominate in some Hudson County neighborhoods directly across the Hudson River from Manhattan, especially in Hoboken and around Van Vorst Park and Hamilton Park in Jersey City. New York City brownstones can cost several million dollars to purchase. A typical architectural detail of brownstones in and around New York City is the stoop, a steep staircase rising from the street to the entrance on what amounts to almost the second-floor level. This design was seen as hygienic at the time many were built, because the streets were so foul with animal waste. It has become fashionable to use the term “brownstone” to refer to almost any townhouse from a certain period, even though they may not have been built of brownstone. For example, many townhouses in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, are built of brick, but have concrete masonry cladding which resembles stone. There are also many brick townhouses that have brownstone-built stoops throughout the outer boroughs. Such neighborhoods that consist of these homes are Borough Park, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Sunset Park, Kensington, Flatbush, Midwood, East New York, Cypress Hills in Brooklyn, Ridgewood, Glendale, Astoria, Woodhaven in Queens, and Longwood and Morrisania in the Bronx.

The Rittenhouse Square and Fairmount neighborhoods of Philadelphia also include examples of brownstone architecture. Many of these homes have been converted into apartment buildings.

Back Bay, Boston, is known for its Victorian brownstone homes – considered some of the best-preserved examples of 19th-century urban design in the United States.

Although some brownstones exist in Chicago, a similar residential form known as “greystones” is far more prevalent. A greystone is a type of residential structure that utilizes Indiana limestone for its facade, regardless of its overall architectural style. As in Brooklyn, there is a “Greystone Belt” in Chicago, with large numbers of such structures located in the south and northwest quadrants of the city. It is estimated that around 30,000 of Chicago’s greystones built between 1890 and 1930 are still standing.

Read more on brownstoner.com – The Rise of the Brownstone in New York and Wikipedia Brownstone (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Johns Hopkins University & Medicine - Coronavirus Resource Center - Global Passport Power Rank - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.






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