High Deco in Brooklyn Heights


UPDATE: I’ve been called out — and rightly so — by a Massachusetts reader for making light of the “anti-climactic” “non-hurricane” in yesterday’s post below. I think we in NYC were so relieved when skyscrapers didn’t topple in heavy winds and the city didn’t become Atlantis, as one commentator warned, that “the day after” was spent in a state of altered consciousness, just trying to regain emotional balance. Only Monday evening did I hear a report on NPR about the extensive devastation in New England and the Catskills, and the damage and losses suffered there in many historic towns and villages. It is nothing short of tragic; apologies for my NYC-centric insensitivity.

I COULD HAVE DONE a post-Irene entry today, but I’m afraid I didn’t get good enough shots of the Jetskis in New York Harbor this afternoon, or the guy loading a surfboard into his car in the aftermath of the non-hurricane.


It was all a bit anti-climactic, after the three-day media storm that preceded it, so a friend and I wandered down to Brooklyn Bridge Park and then through Brooklyn Heights just to dispel the cabin fever of the previous 24 hours. I stopped to take a picture of the terra cotta peacock plaque, top, and in so doing, noticed anew a classic Art Deco building at the corner of Henry and Cranberry Streets. It’s been around for 80 years, and recently underwent a cleaning and partial renovation.


The 12-story building is called The Cranlyn, as I learned from the bas relief plaque, above. That’s Brooklyn’s Borough Hall in the foreground and a seemingly generic skyscraper (none that I recognize, anyway) against a characteristically Art Deco sunburst.


The architect was the Yale-educated H.I. Feldman, who designed many apartment buildings on and around the Bronx’s Grand Concourse in the 1930s and ’40s. It couldn’t be more emblematic of its era, with vari-colored brick, terra cotta trim, and setbacks at the top to reduce the building’s visual bulk and allow a few apartments to have terraces.


Even utilitarian vents, below, were made attractive in the best Jazz Age tradition, with zig zags and sunbursts galore.


The original marble storefronts on the ground floor, below, have been sadly vacant for some time. Other restaurants have come and gone; none has lasted as long as Su-Su’s Yum Yum, a Chinese restaurant where, if I remember correctly, I saw George Nelson bubble fixtures for the first time.


The ceiling fixtures in the renovated lobby, below, are a let-down. But the elevator doors, front desk, and other original details remain.


Of course, Montrose Morris, Brownstoner’s “Building of the Day” columnist, beat me to it. Go there to learn more about the Cranlyn, including comments about the rent-stabilized apartments within from someone who actually lived there.


2 thoughts on “High Deco in Brooklyn Heights

  1. Great detail pics, as always!

    And totally understandable how relief – and the New York focused media – could obscure what was going on further North. Especially because the facts were not being reported. And it is – as you so rightly point out – a very hard pivot emotionally. Thank goodness NYC just fine!

    But Irene fulfilled the 24/7 warning. Just in that freakish way storms behave – not everywhere. I’m in the North. In this town, power never went out. Hour away – devastation.

    The NY Times is finally giving fuller coverage, now, 48 hours later. (Links below) Everyone might want to click, view pics, and be informed so that any future political football discussions – including innocent “gee I spent 20 bucks on batteries and water for nothing” – or the value of being prepared can be tempered with reality.

    Hope the over-pumped media also follow-up with how the North was impacted. So the idea that cuts have to come to the Federal Budget in order to spend FEMA money on helping people in a disaster will receive the drowning it deserves.

    Links to Times:

    Catskills with pics:

    Vermont flooding:

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