Bronx New Deal - Photo #245 - Bronx General Post Office

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Opening ceremony
Opening Ceremony, May 15, 1937[2]
Bronx General Post Office, 558 Grand Concourse at East 149th Street, July 2014, An endangered New Deal landmark: architecture, sculpture, and murals, photographed shortly before it was sold off to a corporate developer, Youngwoo & Associates, in early September of the same year.
“The Bronx General Post Office Building and its notable interior lobby were planned and constructed between 1934-37. The architectural design was executed by Thomas Harlan Ellett. The space contains a series of 13 mural panels created by noted artists Ben Shahn and Bernarda Bryson ... Funding came from the Public Works Administration and the architectural design was overseen by the Federal government's Office of the Supervising Architect, of which Ellett was a temporary employee ... Integral to the design of the Bronx General Post Office Lobby was a series of murals, titled Resources of America, conceived by Shahn and completed with Bryson's assistance.

“It was only during the depths of the Great Depression, and the advent of New Deal public works programs, that the Bronx General Post Office was finally completed. Funds for the building, totaling approximately $1.5 million, came from the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works (widely known as and later officially renamed the Public Works Administration, or PWA). The Bronx post office was part of a major PWA campaign that saw the construction of 29 such buildings in New York City, 136 in New York State, and thousands throughout the country. Architectural design work for Federally-owned PWA projects was overseen by the Office of the Supervising Architect, headed by Louis A. Simon and located within the Public Buildings Branch of the Procurement Division of the Treasury Department.”[1]

You can see details of the building and some of the artwork in the next few pictures. Search Google for updates on the fate of this glorious monument to decent government.

References:

  1. Landmarks Preservation Commission, December 17, 2013, Designation List 470 LP-2552. This document goes on to supply voluminous detail about the funding, politics, construction, and aesthetics of the site and also reproduces the murals. it also includes the findings of the Landmarks Preservation Commission on October 29, 2013, as to how this work will be protected once the US Postal Service sells it off. The document notes that the actual construction of the building was done by a private contractor, Cauldwell-Wingate Company, but this company almost certainly employed relief labor, as was the practice with New Deal agencies when subcontracting a job, and Cauldwell-Wingate was a major New Deal contractor in NYC. But regardless who the laborers were, the Post Office was paid for by the PWA.
  2. New Postoffice in Bronx Opened, New York Times, May 16, 1937, pp.37,39. ”Mr. Farley [the United States Postmaster General] hailed the new building as one of the many steps taken by the Roosevelt Administration to provide more healthy working conditions for postal employees. He praised the present national administration for its foresight in building, pointing out the site of the new structure, though purchased years ago, ‘remained idle’ until President Roosevelt came into power.”
  3. Inside the Transformation of the Bronx General Post Office, 558 Grand Concourse, newyorkyimby.com, April 18, 2016, accessed June 22, 2017. About the remodeling, includes an extensive photo gallery of the construction. Evidently the some effort is being made to preserve the murals and incorporate them into the new design.

The New Deal in NYC 1932-1943 | Frank da Cruz | fdc@columbia.edu