A Versatile Building Material with Historic Architecture
With Lucie Levine
Terra-Cotta, or “fired earth” is the clay chameleon of the concrete jungle: it can mimic stone or sport a rainbow of Technicolor glazes. Both lightweight and highly malleable, it’s ideal for both slim curtain walls and ornate sculptural ornaments. By the turn of the 20th century, many of the city’s most eminent architects, including Cass Gilbert, Henry Hardenbergh, George B. Post and Ely Jacques Khan, worked in terra-cotta, and the clay faced some of the city’s most iconic facades, including the Flatiron Building, the Woolworth Building and the Plaza Hotel. On this tour of Midtown Manhattan, we’ll see the clay chameleon in some of its most beautiful and diverse forms, from a multi-color Moorish-Revival Temple to a French Renaissance Chateau to an Italian Mannerist school. Along the way, stop by New York’s most ornate apartment building, check out one of the city’s earliest co-ops and find out how New York’s most illustrious theaters and finest hotels were clad in clay produced right here in the five boroughs!