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Grotesque on the Britannia (527 West 110th Street) in New York City. Photo by Urban Sea Star via Flickr.

The early-twentieth century Britannia apartment building on West 110th Street in New York City counts among its residents not just one or two, but at least six grotesques. The 1909 building by Waid & Willauer architects was hailed in its day for its welcoming and “homelike” aesthetic.(1) Accordingly, its grotesques are supposed to represent aspects of housekeeping, including cooking, eating, and recordkeeping; in addition to their quirky appearances and atypical subjects, these grotesques are unusual in their placement on the building. Located just below the second-floor balcony, they are easily visible to those on the street, as are the two additional figures on either side of the entrance.(2) I would love to live in a building with its own grotesques, but while the Britannia still serves its original function as an apartment building, I don’t expect to move there any time soon.

Notes: (1) Gray, Christopher. “Meet Me Under the Gobbling Gargoyles”. The New York Times. January 16, 2009. Accessed February 14, 2016. (2) Carr, Nick. “The Hungry Gargoyles of 110th Street”. Scouting New York. July 2, 2009. Accessed February 14, 2016.

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