Tribeca Deco: The history of communications in paint

After I bothered to look up — literally — while visiting friends at 100 Barclay, my first thought was: where’s Tom Miller when you need him? (He has yet to write a post for Daytonian in Manhattan on the building, but, he said, “It’s a marvelous structure. I’ll poke into it.”) So, more soon, but till then, here’s the history of communications as told by paintings on the ceiling of the private lobby (you’ll see smoke signals, carrier pigeons, early telephones, Aztec runners, etc). And while I could not sweet-talk the guards on the Verizon side into letting me take pictures of theirs, I had some spies finish the series for me. (The 100 Barclay side is private for the condo, but anyone can walk into the Verizon side at West and Barclay.)

You’ll see that everything is covered with grapevines and leaves (get it? grapevine? heard it through the?) for what was built as the New York Telephone Company Building in 1923 in the Art Deco style by Ralph Walker. (The history of telecommunications corporate giants is also told here: it then becomes NYNEX which becomes Bell Atlantic which becomes Verizon. Verizon then sold the top 21 floors.) The building is really called the Barclay-Vesey Building, but that name seems to have never stuck.

The city landmarked the building in 1991, saying this: “Built at a time of great progress and transition in American design, it was a product of the atmosphere of architectural creativity and originality which flourished in New York in the 1920s.” The interiors are not landmarked, so they will get their due here.

 

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