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Thread: Public Schools

  1. #1

    Default Public Schools

    I remember the former PS 168 on 104th and 1st, but there's also one just like it on 99th and 3rd, a third one over around West 108th, and a fourth over there on the West side that I found in Google maps the other night.
    They were all built around the same time 1906-1910 and basically from the same plans.

    I decided to make a series of four clay models replicating from photos the four designs of gargoyles on PS 168. Back around 1976 when this school was burned out and abandoned it was wide open to the elements, I removed 7 of the gargoyles from the rooftop dormers out of the 32 up there, here's a photo of one of the dormers;

    It was no easy feat and at least one of the days I went up there it was 1 degrees and windy as hell. I involved two ropes, hammer and chisel and climbing up on the roof thru the broken out skylights to do it.

    I sold my collection of this stuff in the 80's but still have photos, so with those and some I found on flickr I was able to recreate the four exactly like the originals.

    Few ever get to see the ones so high on the building, but here's some photos of my versions of them;

    A photo of one of the originals, from 1979, should be easily recognizeable as the one on the left in the above photo;

  2. #2


    Nice work.

    Who buys them and for what purpose?

  3. #3


    Quote Originally Posted by ablarc View Post
    Nice work.

    Who buys them and for what purpose?
    Thanks, these haven't been molded yet to make casts from, but generally casts of my work go to people who like the architectural ornaments and use the as interior decor, garden ornaments and in new construction too.
    These particular designs would likely be used in the garden or on top of a brick wall, porch or brick pier at the end of a driveway in pairs.

    I have a LOT of clients who seem to live in California for some reason, maybe it's the mistique of NYC that attracts them because I don't get the impression any are former New Yorkers.

    I also did one of a griffin panel that is on Webster hall while a colleague of mine did a really interesting flash video of the hall highlighting all the ornaments on the facade with high res photos.

  4. #4
    Forum Veteran MidtownGuy's Avatar
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    East Midtown


    Thanks for sharing your lovely work with us!

  5. #5


    I think those gargoyles are so creepy. LOL I went to Curtis HS in Staten Island and they were all over the place. You sort of felt "WATCHED" while you were sneaking out of class and smoking a cig in the alley.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    What happened to the schools themselves?

  7. #7


    Thank you midtownguy!


    you were NOT supposed to sneak out of class to smoke!!! LOL I took the easier way out I simply cut the entire second half of the school day and soon stopped going at all. It was months before they even checked...
    Today you MIGHT be watched in that scenario in the alley, not by the gargoyles but by hidden web cams, traffic cams and security cams- damn things are all over now.
    The 4 models in my studio are just cute, almost pettable! they each have a "personality" and sort of hang out on the floor for the moment.
    Ok, so maybe you will like this one better, after one on 90 West Street, kind of dog-like;

    Ed007Toronto ;

    Ps 168 appears to have been renovated in recent years into I believe apartments, the school on 99th and 3rd appears to be closed and boarded up, there is no occupancy permit on file, it is also surrounded by I think 1960's type "projects" to the North and on both sides, so it may fall.

    The other two mentioned on the upper West side are still there, I believe both are still schools.

    PS 189 I believe it is on 145th st is endangered and is currently vacant and deteriorating.

    Here's a couple of pics of former PS 168 on 104th and 1st, from the air today and from 1920, what's really interesting is these buildings cost around $389,000 to build according to the book I have about Morris High School in the Bronx- the first high school in the city. The book has a lot of details about the whole public school system, people, costs as well as architecture by CBJ Snyder who was the superintendent and architect at that time, and under whose actions dozens of new schools were constructed all over the city.

    He was the one who came up with the innovative "H" floor plan
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    Last edited by UrbanSculptures; February 8th, 2008 at 01:46 PM.

  8. #8
    Forum Veteran TREPYE's Avatar
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    Brooklyn, NY


    Erasmus Hall High School

    If not the nicest one of the nicest architecturally....

    Original blueprints

    From the (1939) WPA Guide to New York City:
    Erasmus Hall High School, Flatbush and Church Avenues, often called the "mother of high schools," began as a small private academy in 1787 with an enrollment of twenty-six boys. It was the first secondary school to be chartered by the Regents of the University of the State of New York and hence is the nucleus out of which grew the vast system of secondary school education in New York. The original academy building, a fine example of Colonial architecture with its hand-carved beams and clapboards, stands in the center of an ivy-towered quadrangle. It was built in 1787 with funds contributed by Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, John Jay, and others. Around it are three-story stone and brisk buildings, Collegiate Gothic in design, completed in 1905 1925. In front of the old academy is a large bronze statue of Desiderius Erasmus copied from an original (1622) Rotterdam by Hendrick de Keiser. The entrance fee to the old Erasmus Hall Academy was one guinea and tuition was six pounds sterling, a sizable sum in those days. Students came not only from the surrounding countryside, but also from such far-off places as France, Portugal, the West Indies, Brazil, Spain, and Sweden. Discipline was severe and refractory students were punished by solitary confinement in the "brig," an attic above the classrooms, and sometimes even whipped. If the quaint wording of Rule 9 is to be taken literally, however, students who stood in the good graces of teachers were allowed a license undreamed of in modern private schools. This rule states: "No student shall be permitted to practise any species of gaming nor to drink any spirituous liquors nor to go into any tavern in Flat Bush without obtaining the consent of a teacher."

    Erasmus became a part of the public-school system in 1896, and today has an enrollment exceeding seven thousand. Its alumni include many stage and screen celebrities and athletes: among them are Barbara Stanwyck, Constance and Norma Talmadge, Jane Cowl, Aline McMahon, Eleanor Holm, Sidney Luckman, and Waite Hoyt. Other graduates are Elmer Sperry, inventor of the Sperry gyroscope; Tessa Kelly, "good angel" of the London slums; and William Duer, an early president of Columbia University.

    NameOccupationBirthDeath</B>Known forJoseph BarberaCartoonist24-Mar-191118-Dec-2006Half of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon sweatshopCarol BruceSinger15-Nov-19199-Oct-2007Singer with seven decade careerJeff ChandlerActor15-Dec-191817-Jun-1961Broken ArrowBilly CunninghamBasketball3-Jun-1943 The Kangaroo KidAl DavisFootball4-Jul-1929 Owner of the Oakland RaidersBobby FischerChess Player9-Mar-194318-Jan-2008Loony chess grandmasterMoe HowardActor19-Jun-18974-May-1975Boss StoogeEric R. KandelScientist7-Nov-1929 Signal transduction in the nervous systemLainie KazanActor15-May-1940 My Favorite YearBernie KopellActor21-Jun-1933 Doc on The Love BoatArthur LaurentsPlaywright14-Jul-1918 West Side StorySid LuckmanFootball21-Nov-19165-Jul-1998Chicago Bears QB, Hall of FamerAline MacMahonActor3-May-189912-Oct-1991Dragon SeedBarbara McClintockScientist16-Jun-19022-Sep-1992Discovered telomeresStephanie MillsSinger22-Mar-1957 The WizDonny MostActor8-Aug-1953 Ralph Malph on Happy DaysHy PeskinPhotographer5-Nov-19152-Jun-2005Sports photojournalistBeverly SillsSinger25-May-19292-Jul-2007Soprano at the New York City OperaRobert SilverbergNovelist15-Jan-1935 NightwingsMickey SpillaneAuthor9-Mar-191817-Jul-2006Mike Hammer novelsBarbra StreisandSinger24-Apr-1942 You Don't Bring Me FlowersNorma TalmadgeActor26-May-189324-Dec-1957Du Barry, Woman of PassionBob TischBusiness29-Apr-192615-Nov-2005CEO of Loews, Owner NY GiantsEli WallachActor7-Dec-1915 The Magnificent Seven

  9. #9


    Erasmus is detailed quite a bit in that book I have on the Morris High school I seem to remember it being mentioned as an all girls school but I might have that mixed up with another one in that book.

    Here's a scan of one of my postcards of Morris, you can see Morris and Erasmus are very similar and neither is very much like PS 168 or the other 3 I mentioned.
    Seemed that Snyder the architect did not simply draw up one floor plan and elevation set and use that one set for every school, he in fact customized every building's details but within a broad set criteria.
    The Morris' central tower was more than just to look good, it hid the boiler chimneys, ventilation stacks and all the rest of that stuff nicely.
    All of the terra cotta on Morris cost $25,000 and the board in charge of funds for this school protested not only the central tower but the $25,000 cost for "frivolous ornament" and proposed eliminating all of the ornaments to save $5,000

    When Snyder pointed out that NYC school construction at that time was about 1/3 or 1/2 what comparable sized schools in other cities like Boston etc cost per seat, they relented and approved the cost.
    So Morris High came VERY close to being little more than a plain brick shaped building to save $5,000
    Here in the view is what the $5,000 in "frivolous ornament" brought us.

    The girls gym and the boys gym on the top floor were at opposite ends of the building, and the rest of that top floor had drawing rooms, I think the library. The principal's office was on the ground floor just to the right of the central tower. It also had science laboratories in the left wing on the 2nd or 3rd floor, and the rest were classrooms. In the back was a large rounded 2 story section for assembly with seating, stage and a large pipe organ.

    PS 168 etc didn't have a central tower but it had a copper spire of sorts, and it's wings on the ends are longer, but basically similar. The dormers on PS168 are much larger and more ornamented.
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    Last edited by UrbanSculptures; February 9th, 2008 at 12:00 AM.

  10. #10
    Kings County Loyal BrooklynLove's Avatar
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    i wish that i had taken pictures but i actually was able to fully explore all of ps1 in LIC back in the early 90s during the months leading up to the first ever art installation there - so this was before any work had been done on the building. the boiler rooms in the basement were way creepy - think nightmare on elm street.

    this reminds me of an anecdote re the first art show at ps1. the building was still a total wreck and there was art up randomly throught the building in various rooms. anyway, i'm checking out an installation in one room from the doorway before walking in and sitting in the folding chair placed in the middle of the room for viewing. before i make my move toward the chair this massive chunk of the ceiling falls down right onto the chair, basically dessimating it. if i had been sitting in the chair when that happened i probably would've been killed.

  11. #11

    Wink Performance Art at PSI

    Quote Originally Posted by BrooklynLove View Post
    ....... if i had been sitting in the chair when that happened i probably would've been killed.
    Intriguing story. And to add insult to irony, it may have been hours before you were recovered: because YOU and that pile of debris lying in the in the middle of the gallery would likely have been mistaken as being a performance art piece.

  12. #12
    Kings County Loyal BrooklynLove's Avatar
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    ^ hmm ... quite possible

  13. #13


    Ive seen some pics taken inside PS 1 on, one was of the stairwell, kind of eerie lighting in it but pretty cool.

  14. #14
    Kings County Loyal BrooklynLove's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lostnyc View Post
    Ive seen some pics taken inside PS 1 on, one was of the stairwell, kind of eerie lighting in it but pretty cool.
    i'll never forget checking out the boiler room back in the day - it was ultra spooky. and the smell was sooooo musty and dank.

  15. #15


    THIS the stairway?
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