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Pay Homage To These Architectural Relics
The New York City travel photos in this post depict grotesques, which are similar to gargoyles but lack a water spout. Just look at the monsters' mouths to see what I mean. There's no place for rain water to come out. Now that you know you're looking at grotesques and not cemetery statues, I'm going to tell you a story that my ceramic sculpture professor told me and that you might've seen in the news last summer:
In the early 1900s, the grotesques pictured here decorated the Neo-gothic buildings at The City College of New York in Manhattan, the flagship CUNY school. Unfortunately, though the grotesques had been made to be weather-resistant, their protective sheen fell out of style. Some people thought the terracotta's shininess looked tacky. So the grotesques were sandblasted to remove their sheen. Bye-bye, glaze!
After the sandblasting, the grotesques were no longer properly weather-resistant. They began absorbing rain and other moisture and started to crumble. Some of them even fell from buildings. My professor says that Columbia University suffered a similar story, which resulted in a Barnard student getting killed by a statue. Imagine the terror of a grotesque hurtling at you from the sky! Luckily nobody at City College was killed by any of the grotesques.
In the 1980s, City College began removing the grotesques and hired a contractor to install weather-resistant replicas. You can find many of the originals piled up in a memorial garden of sorts behind the campus architecture building, by a small parking lot. The grotesques remain uncovered and unprotected in any way. And, yes, because City College is a public school, you can pop over there—no student I.D. required—to take a look at these architectural relics of the past.
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