11 May 2010

Unfortunate Brickwork in Red Hook


Commonplace looking building in Red Hook, right?

But look closely at the decorative brickwork near the top.




A lovely cream-brick swastika! Now, I didn't jump to any conclusions here. Given the historic nature of the neighborhood, and the look of the building, I felt pretty sure this edifice, 73 Coffey Street, was built well before the rise of Nazi Germany. Also, the swastika was a common design throughout the world before Germany got ahold of it and stigmatized it forever.

But a Department of Building Certicate of Occupancy from 1928 referred to 73 Coffey as a "new building." It was built in 1926, in fact. And the Nazi Party had already begun to win seats in the Reichstag by 1924. Could it be that Hitler found a fan in Red Hook in the the late 1920s? I've never seen anything like the design on other buildings, though Forgotten New York tells us "swastikas can be found all over town in pre-1930s buildings." 

13 comments:

Queens Crapper said...

They're all over the subway, too. The Transit Museum Store even advertises the fact.

Mykola Dementiuk said...

Perhaps before WW2 many Germans lived in the area. Nothing wrong with that. Even old man Kennedy supported Nazi Germany before the Holocaust.

Nathan said...

I see swastikas used as interior door frame rosettes quite frequently. It was considered a good luck charm for centuries before the Nazis appropriated it.

rob-t-firefly said...

I'm all for preserving historic architecture without getting too hung up on modern context, and the swastika was a perfectly lovely symbol before the Nazis got hold of it, but this is definitely an instance in which if I were the building owner I'd have at least painted over that.

Anonymous said...

They're also on the crown moulding of the US Post Office on 21st Stree in Long Island City. A friend in Sheepshead Bay had a house from around 1910 and they were the trim design on the wood floors in EVERY ROOM of her house.

Dan said...

The fact that it's diamond-shaped is interesting. Most "good luck" swastikas were square; when Hitler comandeered it he altered it slightly, making it diamond-shaped.

I'm almost positive what you got there is an honest-to-goodness Nazi Swastika.

Frank Jump said...

Let's just say I wouldn't choose this brick pattern for flooring in a synagogue.

Stray Bongo said...

My folks went to New Mexico State University and the school's yearbook was called The Swastika into the 1980's I believe. I was blown away when I saw old copies of it in our living room as a kid. It was a fairly common symbol in Navaho art, as it was in many other cultures, I gather.

FlyOnTheWall said...

There are swastika-type designs in the ceilings at the ends of the GPO on 33rd Street.

Plus, many government and commercial buildings of the 1920s have fasces adorning them, e.g. the flagpole in Wash Sq Park.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of visiting a lawyer
of the Jewish faith at his country home in Upstate NY who had an Indian
antique rug but as some of his Family in Hungary were killed by the Nazi's
in 1943 ,he had the Swastikas nicely
re-embroided to look like squares.
Who can blame him?

Keir Harness said...

could be a facsist supporter as owner architect of the building. Remember in Europe between the wars many forms and types of nationalism / facism were discussed supported etc.
Not sure but I think the swasticka is also part of Bhuddist symbology. But i think it appears the otther wayt round

Ole J.C. said...

Gees, research the swastika. America used the symbol freely and with love before WWII. Has nothing to do with Nazis.

John said...

Ole J.C. - you're a fool who just read Wiki.