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  #61  
Old Posted Oct 31, 2019, 6:49 PM
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Originally Posted by badrunner View Post
This might actually be the largest art deco building in the country. I think it just edges out Buffalo city hall.
no. that title easily belongs to chicago's merchandise mart, with its 4M SF of floor space (over 7x larger than buffalo city hall).

it was the largest building in the world when it was built and it still ranks somewhat high on that list nearly century later.

it's a true beast of a building.


source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merchandise_Mart
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  #62  
Old Posted Oct 31, 2019, 6:51 PM
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Originally Posted by niwell View Post
Having the most impressive art deco towers doesn't necessarily mean the most art deco buildings. I'd agree with NYC at number 1 and Miami being in the mix, but other than that it's up in the air.

Lots of colonial countries embraced the style just as much as the US just tended not to build massive towers, though there are iconic train stations and the like. Not experiencing the effects of Depression to the same degree certainly helped with proliferation of the style. For instance I'd put money on Johannesburg having more deco structures than Detroit, even though latter may have more iconic deco buildings (the gap isn't as large as one may assume though). Certain streets are lined with the style, but many of the buildings are in rough shape. Colonial interpretations of deco do tend to be more subdued than the US, which again may not be surprising.

Canada's actually a bit of an outlier compared to other commonwealth nations in that deco isn't nearly as prevalent. Toronto does have a number of interesting late deco structures that were delayed by the depression / WWII and ended up being built with modernist influences, but that's an aside.
I have never been to Johannesburg, but I'm skeptical that it has more art deco buildings than Detroit. Detroit was likely several times the size of Johannesburg in the 1920s and 1930s.
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  #63  
Old Posted Oct 31, 2019, 7:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
no. that title easily belongs to chicago's merchandise mart, with its 4M SF of floor space.

it was the largest building in the world when it was built and it still ranks somewhat high on that list nearly century later.

it's a true beast of a building.


source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merchandise_Mart
Ah, how could I forget about THAT. I remember being blown away by the size of it when I first saw it. I find absolutely massive buildings like that more visually impressive than skinny tall skyscrapers.
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  #64  
Old Posted Oct 31, 2019, 7:12 PM
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It has it's own el stop, lol.

Great building.
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  #65  
Old Posted Oct 31, 2019, 7:17 PM
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I was there about a month or so ago; they do a light show at night and photos just don't capture just how ridiculously massive that thing is. You almost forget it's a 25 story building.
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  #66  
Old Posted Oct 31, 2019, 7:22 PM
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I can't imagine what it's like walking around the office space inside that thing. I've been in a few prewar towers with floorplates that are miniscule in comparison. Even in those where you're never more than 50 feet from a window they can feel suffocating with how much less columnless space and natural light they were able to build in back then.
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  #67  
Old Posted Oct 31, 2019, 7:35 PM
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Originally Posted by iheartthed View Post
I have never been to Johannesburg, but I'm skeptical that it has more art deco buildings than Detroit. Detroit was likely several times the size of Johannesburg in the 1920s and 1930s.

Hard to find exact figures but Detroit was about twice as large in 1950, though the Johannesburg figures would deliberately exclude certain sections of the population.

However that doesn't really tell the full story as this time period coincided with massive amounts of growth in the city. Joburg (and surrounding art deco centres like Springs) also continued to grow at a feverish pace during the 1930s while Detroit was stagnating during the Depression. Similarly, building continued during WWII as the countries war effort was significantly less than the US or other allied powers. This era also coincided with a massive influx of capital from gold mining and the deliberate reconstruction of huge portions of the inner-city in the deco style (New York of Africa and such). Keep in mind that a significant majority of the world's gold was coming from the region at the time. Deco also remained quite popular in South Africa well into the 1950s while the US was shifting away from it to more modern styles. Durban also has a huge amount though it was small enough at the time I'd put Detroit ahead of it.

I'd also expect Miami's story to share at least a few similarities - it wasn't exactly a major centre during the deco period. Also worth noting that period architecture in Detroit seemed more varied to me the times I've been there.
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  #68  
Old Posted Oct 31, 2019, 7:36 PM
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Pictures don't do it justice - the Merchandise Mart is incredibly imposing in person. As suburbanite noted I can't imagine it's too pleasant in the deep interior - you could get lost in there.
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  #69  
Old Posted Oct 31, 2019, 7:56 PM
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Originally Posted by niwell View Post
Hard to find exact figures but Detroit was about twice as large in 1950, though the Johannesburg figures would deliberately exclude certain sections of the population.

However that doesn't really tell the full story as this time period coincided with massive amounts of growth in the city. Joburg (and surrounding art deco centres like Springs) also continued to grow at a feverish pace during the 1930s while Detroit was stagnating during the Depression. Similarly, building continued during WWII as the countries war effort was significantly less than the US or other allied powers. This era also coincided with a massive influx of capital from gold mining and the deliberate reconstruction of huge portions of the inner-city in the deco style (New York of Africa and such). Keep in mind that a significant majority of the world's gold was coming from the region at the time. Deco also remained quite popular in South Africa well into the 1950s while the US was shifting away from it to more modern styles. Durban also has a huge amount though it was small enough at the time I'd put Detroit ahead of it.

I'd also expect Miami's story to share at least a few similarities - it wasn't exactly a major centre during the deco period. Also worth noting that period architecture in Detroit seemed more varied to me the times I've been there.
I don't think there has been a full accounting of Detroit's art deco architecture, but it still just seems really unlikely. Detroit was one of the largest urban areas in the world in 1950, larger than both Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro at the time, which are both cited as having large collections. And art deco was very thoroughly embedded in the city's architecture, even well away from downtown Detroit (for instance: https://goo.gl/maps/kmJkom5j5YUix4Ce8). Granted, a lot has been lost but a lot still exists. So many of Detroit's public school buildings, particularly the high schools, are/were art deco for starters.
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  #70  
Old Posted Oct 31, 2019, 8:41 PM
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Originally Posted by iheartthed View Post
I don't think there has been a full accounting of Detroit's art deco architecture, but it still just seems really unlikely. Detroit was one of the largest urban areas in the world in 1950, larger than both Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro at the time, which are both cited as having large collections. And art deco was very thoroughly embedded in the city's architecture, even well away from downtown Detroit (for instance: https://goo.gl/maps/kmJkom5j5YUix4Ce8). Granted, a lot has been lost but a lot still exists. So many of Detroit's public school buildings, particularly the high schools, are/were art deco for starters.


That's a perfect example of what I'm talking about actually - that's a gorgeous grand building of which Detroit has many. You would be hard pressed to find that outside of the CBD in any South African city. But stuff like this is dime a dozen in pretty much any suburb built before the mid 1950s:

https://goo.gl/maps/g59cGrmAdJmMu9pz8
https://goo.gl/maps/huuEDFFtUP8U8aJ3A
https://goo.gl/maps/1CXKNKDC5drpVqnv6
https://goo.gl/maps/4GvRdJ45qKNgHLvR8



As I said, much more subdued and with British colonial influence, but very clearly deco. Here's an article that claims it as #3, though I would personally doubt that: https://www.csmonitor.com/2000/1023/p7s1.html

It may also be useful to separate American art deco from what was occurring elsewhere in the world.
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  #71  
Old Posted Oct 31, 2019, 8:46 PM
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Originally Posted by niwell View Post
Pictures don't do it justice - the Merchandise Mart is incredibly imposing in person. As suburbanite noted I can't imagine it's too pleasant in the deep interior - you could get lost in there.
Someone told be either Facebook or Google leased a ton of office space there since these big tech companies love wide open floor plates like this.
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  #72  
Old Posted Oct 31, 2019, 8:48 PM
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Originally Posted by niwell View Post
That's a perfect example of what I'm talking about actually - that's a gorgeous grand building of which Detroit has many. You would be hard pressed to find that outside of the CBD in any South African city. But stuff like this is dime a dozen in pretty much any suburb built before the mid 1950s:

https://goo.gl/maps/g59cGrmAdJmMu9pz8
https://goo.gl/maps/huuEDFFtUP8U8aJ3A
https://goo.gl/maps/1CXKNKDC5drpVqnv6
https://goo.gl/maps/4GvRdJ45qKNgHLvR8



As I said, much more subdued and with British colonial influence, but very clearly deco. Here's an article that claims it as #3, though I would personally doubt that: https://www.csmonitor.com/2000/1023/p7s1.html

It may also be useful to separate American art deco from what was occurring elsewhere in the world.
Yeah, there's also stuff like this scattered throughout Detroit:

https://goo.gl/maps/nDhL19KxW71PMEAS6
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  #73  
Old Posted Oct 31, 2019, 8:56 PM
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One important distinction seems to be that the US by-and-large used art deco in institutional & commercial applications, but not much in the way of residential (NY being the exception here - and even then it tended to build more in the Beaux Arts, Italianate, etc. styles, from what it seems). A place like Tel Aviv on the other hand is chock-a-block with streamline moderne stuff like this: https://goo.gl/maps/nWMwLsQvJWpMtyBp9

As a result I wouldn't be surprised to see some non-US cities with the highest numbers of art deco buildings, even if the best and most of the grand examples of the style are largely found in New York, Chicago, LA, and Detroit.
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  #74  
Old Posted Oct 31, 2019, 9:18 PM
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Originally Posted by iheartthed View Post
I don't think there has been a full accounting of Detroit's art deco architecture, but it still just seems really unlikely. Detroit was one of the largest urban areas in the world in 1950, larger than both Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro at the time, which are both cited as having large collections. And art deco was very thoroughly embedded in the city's architecture, even well away from downtown Detroit (for instance: https://goo.gl/maps/kmJkom5j5YUix4Ce8). Granted, a lot has been lost but a lot still exists. So many of Detroit's public school buildings, particularly the high schools, are/were art deco for starters.

To echo what some others have already said, the size of a city in 1930-50 or so is not a proxy for its art deco stock. It's a question of when it was growing and of cultural preferences more than anything, as well as wealth to an extent. That's a why a then-small city like Miami likely has more buildings of the style than Boston or Philly. Or why international cities like Shanghai, Rio, and Johannesburg have more than big European cities like London or Paris.

That said, Detroit certainly is/was one of the world's great repositories of art deco regardless.
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  #75  
Old Posted Oct 31, 2019, 10:05 PM
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Originally Posted by bossabreezes View Post
Rio de Janeiro- this barely scratches the surface.

Centro-Cinelandia https://goo.gl/maps/hYUfndCkxXwduhva9
Centro-Praça Mauá https://goo.gl/maps/XNssMWCdAvssxtQz5
Centro- Central do Brasil https://goo.gl/maps/2bDcjKsdMTWuXemH7
Flamengo I- https://goo.gl/maps/uAEqud48rH58tmXB6
Flamengo II- https://goo.gl/maps/u3ZdfuGFMjG1o8mo8
Flamengo III- https://goo.gl/maps/ujkCFAb2opwwAqAW7
Copacabana- https://goo.gl/maps/zy3x9RehAAhcwU5p6
Most of these Rio examples are really more Art Moderne rather than Deco. The main difference is that Art Moderne buildings generally have less ornamentation and the emphasis tends to be on the horizontal line as opposed to the vertical.
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  #76  
Old Posted Nov 1, 2019, 12:52 AM
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Originally Posted by badrunner View Post
Maybe there's more than is commonly thought, but then again, if you're counting individual residences with art deco elements as art deco buildings, and you're still only at a few thousand samples, that's not gonna cut it for #2 in the world .

Many American SFHs from that time period could be counted as well. Even if they weren't explicitly built as art deco residences, they integrated many of the decorative elements and motifs into their designs. Something like a 1930s Spanish colonial with vintage art deco lighting fixtures and leaded glass - very common around here.

Here's my ranking, considering both quality and quantity:

NYC
LA
Chicago
Detroit
Miami

If we include the rest the world, the ranking does not change.
You know a fact doesn't become reality because you just decide it is. What are your sources?
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  #78  
Old Posted Nov 1, 2019, 4:52 AM
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Though Miami may boast the largest collection of art deco architecture in the world, Dallas Fair Park has the largest collection of art deco exhibition buildings,art, and sculpture in the U.S. It is one of the finest examples of excellent city planning and beautification of a public space to be found anywhere in the world.
https://www.google.com/search?q=dall...&bih=691&dpr=3
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  #80  
Old Posted Nov 1, 2019, 5:33 AM
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You know a fact doesn't become reality because you just decide it is. What are your sources?
Yeah. I didn't want to wade in to this conversation due to not having any concrete numbers, but Shanghai was an absolute boom town of over 3 million people in the 1920s/30s, and A LOT of art deco was built. The French Concession, a massive area in central Shanghai that I live in for seven years, is littered with art deco everywhere. I was constantly discovering new gems in alleys or down side streets.

To write off Shanghai as a major art deco center just because it wasn't in the US is foolish.
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