In 1925, 4,000 guests arrived in Paris, France for the "Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes", or the "International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts".  The fair was held to introduce
the world to a new type of art.  This style, which focused mainly on simple designs dealing with geometric lines, spread throughout Western Europe and eventually reached the United States.  It dealt with just about everything dealing with art-architecture included.

Since houses began to be constructed in this new style, which was very different from other styles being built at the time, they needed a named to classify them.  That name came in the 1960s, when art historian Bevi Hillier shortened the exposition's name for the naming of the style as "Art Deco".

The Art Deco style of architecture has many different features.  When the houses were first being built in the 1920s, they were typified by simple, straight lines and geometric forms.  Much of the style was influenced by Ancient Egyptians, as the tomb of King Tutankhamen had just been discovered in 1922.  The symbols of Ancient Egypt were used as decorative features and buildings were often constructed to resemble the Egyptian ziggurat.

By the 1930s, this style matured, adding more distinctive traits to already-existing features.  The main focus of this new step dealt with curves.  Many lines became curvilinear, and windows became curved and wrapped around buildings.  While the first stage of Art Deco spread from Western Europe to the United States, this second stage spread from the United States to Western Europe.lane_theatre

It's actually quite easy to spot a structure built in the Art Deco style, as they are so different from other buildings.  The Chrysler Building would be a great example, but you don't have to travel all the way to Manhattan to see an Art Deco-style building.  There are actually quite a few located in Staten Island.  Two prime examples would be the Lane Theater, in New Dorp, and the Paramount Theater, in Stapleton.  The Lane Theater can be distinguished by its curvilinear lines, making it an Art Deco-style building of the second stage.  The Paramount Theater resembles an Egyptian ziggurat, which was more common to the first stage of Art Deco structures.

There are two other examples located in the St. George-New Brighton Historic District.  These are the single-story commercial buildings located at 66-70 and 72-78 Westervelt Avenue.  These were designed by Samuel Gardstein and built between 1930 and 1932.  Each structure has three storefronts.  They were both designated in 1994 with the rest of the building within the St. George/New Brighton Historic District.

Posted by Anthony Licciardello on


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