East Village Building Blocks

604-632 East 12th Street | Block : 394 | Lot #12

  • Building Date : 1911
  • Original Use : Institutional
  • Original Owner : City of New York Department of Education
  • Original Architect : Charles B.J. Snyder

Description & Building Alterations

According to the Office for Metropolitan History, PS 61 was built in 1911 by the Department of Education architect, Charles B. J. Snyder. It is designed in the Gothic Revival style that was extremely popular for school design at the time. Thought to reflect the holy ideals of enlightenment and the pursuit of truth, the design in brick and limestone expresses these ideas through the use Gothic pointed arches, quatrefoils, and owls, all typical of that design aesthetic. This is partnered with the Department of Education’s seal that is represented to the left of the main entrance and the old seal of New Amsterdam to the right of it to indicated that it was a public school in New York City.  The most auspicious details of the facade five-story building are the four clovers that accompany the school number over the main entrance.  This could be an acknowledgment of the growing number of Irish immigrants into the neighborhood…

The E-shaped school was without a playground until the mid-1920s when the tenements on the adjoining lots were demolished and a playground constructed.  Few Snyder schools were built with playgrounds because of both space constraints and an educational program that did not include playtime or outdoor physical fitness. The playground was updated several times and the windows and entrances to the building have also been altered. In the early 1950s, PS 61 was the largest elementary school by enrollment.  The sheer number of students, coupled with the design that had teachers and students trapped in a maze of stairs, created much tension between the neighborhood parents and the school’s administration.  These struggles continued and likely worsened, as the city’s budget shrunk in the 1970s and 80s.  Finally, in the early 1990s, PS 61 was closed.  The school building is now occupied by three public elementary schools: Children’s Workshop School, East Village Community,, and The Spectrum School.

Block : 394 / Lot : 012 / Building Date : 1911 / Original Owner : New York Department of Education / Original Use : Institutional / Original Architect: Charles B.J. Snyder

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