Opening Ceremony, May 15, 1937
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.”
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.
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.
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
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.