Art Deco in New York (1920s-1930s)

Art Deco was the first architectural style in America that didn’t look back to historical styles for inspiration. It rejected historical precedents and emerged as the first truly original modern style of architecture.

Art Deco was not just an architectural style but a movement that influenced fashion, art, homewares, and interior design in the 1920s and ’30s. The style emerged in France in the early 1920s, but made its first official appearance in 1925 in Paris at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes. Eventually, Art Deco was named after this exhibit.

  • The distinguishing features of the style are simple, clean shapes, often with a “streamlined” look.
  • Sleek, linear appearance with stylized, often geometric ornamentation
  • Façades often feature a series of setbacks that create a stepped outline.
  • Smooth finish building materials such as stucco, concrete block, glazed brick, mosaic tile, chrome, steel, and aluminum are typical.
  • Chevrons, zigzags, and other geometrical shapes are common forms of ornamentation.
  • The consistent theme is carried throughout the building on both the exterior and interior.
  • Windows and doors are decorated with geometric designs.
  • Low-relief decorative panels at entrances, around windows

Art Deco spanned two very different eras — the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression, reflecting both. Art Deco is not a minimalistic style: it balances the practicality of the Machine Age with the opulence of the Roaring Twenties. Its shapes are slick and streamlined, but the ornamentation is elaborate.

Practical and geometric, Art Deco lends itself well to commercial structures and skyscrapers. Some of the most beloved buildings on New York’s skyline are Art Deco, such as the Chrysler, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, and the Empire State Building.

The Empire State Building, 1931
Architecture firm: Shreve, Lamb & Harmon
Address: 350 5th Ave

Chrysler Building, 1930
Architect: William Van Alen
Address: 405 Lexington Ave

30 Rockefeller Plaza, 1933
Architect: Raymond Hood

Nelson Tower, 1931
Architect: Craig Severance
Location: 450 Seventh Ave bw 34th and 35th Str

New Yorker Hotel, 1930
Architect: Sugarman and Berger
Location: 481 Eighth Avenue

Fred F French Building, 1927
Architect: H. Douglas Ives and Sloan & Robertson
Location: 551 Fifth Avenue

500 Fifth Ave, 1931
Architecture firm: Shreve, Lamb & Harmon

The Barclay-Vesey Building, 1927
Architect: Ralph Thomas Walker
Location: 140 West Street

American Radiator Building, 1924
Architects: Raymond Hood
Location: 40 West 40th Street

70 Pine St, 1932
Architecture firm: Clinton and Russell

40 Wall St, 1930
Architect: H. Craig Severance

Paramount Building, 1926
Architecture firm: Rapp and Rapp
Address: 1501 Broadway

El Dorado, 1931
Architect: Emery Roth
Address: 300 Central Park West

The Majestic, 1929
Architect: Irwin Chanin
Address: 115 Central Park West

The Century, 1931
Architect: Irwin Chanin
Address: 25 Central Park West

Chanin Building, 1929
Architect: Sloan and Robertson
Address: 122 E 42nd St

The McGraw Hill Building, 1931
Architects: Raymond Hood, J. André Fouilhoux
Address: 330 W 42nd St

Waldorf Astoria, 1931
Architect: Schultze & Weaver
Location: 301 Park Avenue

120 Wall Street, 1930
Architect: Ely Jacques Kahn

GE Building, 1931
Architecture firm: Cross & Cross
Location: 570 Lexington Avenue

Fuller Building, 1929
Architecture firm: Walker & Gillette
Location: 595 Madison Avenue

Architect: Emery Roth, 1939
Address: 140 Riverside Drive @ West 86th Street

The Ardsley, 1931
Architect: Emery Roth
Address: 320 Central Park West

2 Comments Add yours

  1. QueenMary74 says:

    I love this one! Art Deco style is fascinating to me. 💙


    1. It is a fascinating style that celebrates the machine age, streamlined, yet elaborate. Thank you for reading and commenting!


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