Walking is Free: “The Block Beautiful” on E. 19th
Spent all your money on Maker’s Friday night and now you ain’t got cash for the weekend? Guess what, po’boys… walking won’t cost you a thing and is one of the best forms of entertainment in our fine city. I’ve found it hard to actually take in the architecture, read the historical signs, peak into wealthy people’s windows, etc while getting from point A to point B, so I reserve time that a richer person might for, say, going to a movie and use it instead on checking out my surroundings (hint: this might become a regular feature I do. Get hyped!). One walk that never fails me is E. 19th Street between 3rd Ave and and Irving Place, first described as “The Block Beautiful” by American Homes & Gardens in 1914.
This is largely thanks to Frederick Sterner, one of NYC’s most innovative architects. Residing in the large townhouse on the corner so beautiful it warrants “Who LIVES there!?” by anyone passing by (139 E. 19th), Sterner used worldly influences such as Mediterranean, Arts & Crafts and Gothic styles to battle the predominant gloom of aging brick rowhouses. The block’s residents, such as Ida Tarbell and Robert Winthrop Chanler, were awed with his designs and worked with him to create designs; Sterner also bought many of the block’s houses to redesign and sell to people looking for more creative dwellings.
Today, many of the designs or flourishes exist today such as two small painted jockeys, Giraffes statues, beautiful tiling, sophisticated iron work, stucco, and more. It’s a short stroll in distance but worth spending extra time to look around. The best part is that everyone else on the tree-lined street knows it too, so you won’t have to worry about any of those “Point A to Point B” people getting in the way.
“The Block Beautiful”
E. 19th Street (btn 3rd Ave and Irving Place)