Where can you find the highest concentration of grotesques in New York City? The answer is on the campus of City College of New York.
City College is located on Amsterdam Avenue near 138th Street. It is in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood of Manhattan just north of Harlem.
How Many Grotesques?
According to “The City College of NY 150 Years of Academic Architecture” written by Paul David Pearson (1997) the buildings are “encased with over 600 grotesque figures that directly relate to the educational function of each building. The figures were designed by Livingston Smith, a staff member in the post’s architectural office, modeled by G. Grundellis and cast in terra cotta.” I got this quote from another website. Scouting NY website says there are 1,000. I don’t think I was able to access close to either of those numbers walking around campus, however, there are a lot to see.
How to Get There
In Manhattan take the number 1 subway line to 137th Street- City College station. Exit and walk up Hamilton Place and turn right on 138th Street. When you cross Amsterdam Avenue you are there. Anyone can walk around the campus. There are not many people there on the weekend, but I was still able to walk around the buildings. There are areas you can not walk on campus. Some streets or alleyways may be closed off with fences.
If grotesques peak your interest, it is worth a trip up the 1 train. It may also be a good destination prior to Halloween.