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Thread: The City Hall Post Office - by A.B. Mullett - (Demolished)

  1. #31

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    Took it myself

  2. #32
    Kings County Loyal BrooklynLove's Avatar
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    Great stuff.

  3. #33

  4. #34

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    This was a beautiful building. What a loss.

  5. #35
    Kings County Loyal BrooklynLove's Avatar
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    Any record as to why it was demolished? Was there a fire or something?

  6. #36

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    Although the site at the triangular tip of City Hall Park was chosen for a U.S. post office in 1867, the elaborately colonnaded, mansard-roofed building did not open until 1878. After a competition with no winner, a committee headed by A. B. Mullet was formed to design the building. Never liked, it was dubbed "Mullet's monstrosity," and as early as 1920 efforts to demolish it were underway. Because of a land-rights dispute between the city and federal authorities, the building stood until 1938, when the beautification of City Hall Park for the 1939 World's Fair hastened its demise. Abbott recorded the much-maligned building a month before it was razed.

    From AntiNimby's link on the first page.

  7. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alonzo-ny View Post
    Nice shot of the Municipal Building. The engineering to support those Beaux-Art intricacies and make it look seamless must have been challenging.

  8. #38
    Kings County Loyal BrooklynLove's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alonzo-ny View Post
    Although the site at the triangular tip of City Hall Park was chosen for a U.S. post office in 1867, the elaborately colonnaded, mansard-roofed building did not open until 1878. After a competition with no winner, a committee headed by A. B. Mullet was formed to design the building. Never liked, it was dubbed "Mullet's monstrosity," and as early as 1920 efforts to demolish it were underway. Because of a land-rights dispute between the city and federal authorities, the building stood until 1938, when the beautification of City Hall Park for the 1939 World's Fair hastened its demise. Abbott recorded the much-maligned building a month before it was razed.

    From AntiNimby's link on the first page.
    Amazing - this building was thought of as ugly? Truly astonishing.

  9. #39

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    I don't think the appearance the building had much to do with it's unpopularity.

    Although Central Park was recently completed post Civil War, that part of Manhattan was still somewhat rural countryside. The 1811 grid plan made no previsions for new open space, the City Hall Park was one of the few parks in the most dense part of the city.

    Couple that with the fact that it was the federal government that came in and appropriated what was always public open space.

  10. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrooklynLove View Post
    Amazing - this building was thought of as ugly? Truly astonishing.
    The Custom House in Portland ME features the same heavy, clumsy, and inelegant doric order of Alfred B. Mullett, Supervising Architect of the Treasury from 1865 to 1874.







    While appropriately ornate, it shares the stunted ill proportions of its contemporaries' cast-iron architecture.

  11. #41
    Build the Tower Verre antinimby's Avatar
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    That looks fine to me. Do they have to be longer, thinner, spaced further apart, etc.?

    So the columns are the reason why it was not loved?

  12. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrooklynLove View Post
    Amazing - this building was thought of as ugly? Truly astonishing.
    I'd be beyond ecstatic if McSam built one of these. It was a wholly different mindset back then though, tearing something down simply on aesthetic terms is unthinkable today. The word aesthetic means nothing to developers today.

  13. #43
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    This was the Main US Post Office in NYC but well before it was torn down in the late '30s its original usefulness had come to an end. In 1912 the new Main US PO (The Farley") was built on Eighth Avenue across from Penn Station. That centralm location offered immediate access to trains and thereby served in the quick delivery of the mail in & out of NYC; in 1934 it was doubled in size. By then the old Main PO near City Hall no longer served its needed function. In 1937 the major downtown Post Office moved to the newly-built Federal Building one block away at 90 Church (at Vesey).

    This one outlived it's usefulness -- and was born too soon to reap the rewards of "adaptive re-use."

    There are only a small number of mansard-roofed Second Empire style structures left in NYC. The style was very popular in the 1870-80s, but NYC firefighters hated them because the mansard roofs were a warren of big wooden timbers where fire thrived. A major mansard-roofed structure is currently under renovation at 1234 Broadway (just south of Herald Square); they've just about finished the roof work there.

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  14. #44

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    The top floors of the building were used for courts, and with the Post Office moving out, a heated battle developed in 1910 over city plans to again use City Hall Park for a new courthouse.

    A NY Times article dated March 22, 1910. The NY AIA got involved, with plans for alternate sites north of the park - the beginnings of today's Foley Square. There's also a letter from Frederick L Olmsted to Mayor Gaynor.

    http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive...659C946196D6CF

    At that time, historical preservation leaned toward the historical rather than the building architecture. Actually, even the historical was influenced by political symbolism. Age wasn't necessarily a consideration. To this group, the park buildings that were worthwhile was City Hall itself (especially because of its continuing function) and the old Hall of Records on the NE corner - the Martyrs Prison, where patriots were jailed by the British during the Revolution. These buildings were bound to the significance of the land, especially as to the transition from colony to republic. The Declaration of Independence was first publicly read in The Commons, with GW in attendance.

    There were calls by preservationists to demolish the Tweed Courthouse, because of its connection to corruption. Likewise, the Post Office building was seen as an affront to City Hall, blocking its prominent position. It didn't help that city officials handed over the land to the feds.

    The other group, City Beautiful planning, also wanted to demolish the Tweed Courthouse and keep City Hall, but they wanted to create a new civic center in which City Hall would remain as a symbolic building only, clearly not acceptable to preservationists.

    This and other debates - the new courthouse, and city-federal battle over the post office land - dragged on, and the issue basically settled when the Post Office was torn down, restoring the park to its original dimensions. City Hall retained its primary function, but the Hall or Records was torn down for the IRT. Tweed Courthouse (luckily) survived.
    Last edited by ZippyTheChimp; January 13th, 2009 at 12:27 PM. Reason: typos

  15. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by antinimby View Post
    That looks fine to me. Do they have to be longer, thinner, spaced further apart, etc.?

    So the columns are the reason why it was not loved?
    I understand that Second Empire style played fast and loose with the orders, often to great effect such as Boston's Old City Hall.

    I guess I'm making a rather academic criticism but in the Maine example I posted, Mullet's triglyphs are fat, his metopes stretched and the cornice too deep. He appears to be using Vitruvian proportions with the basement motif of the Theatre of Marcellus.



    I may be whistling past the graveyard, but I also dislike the stubby corinthian order of Penn Station.

    Regarding Zippy's City-Federal animosity over the Post office, the Saltworks-esque ground floor subtly reminds of the Federal monopoly of the mail service.

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