Mid-Century Modern Schools in Manhattan
By: Erica Mollon
Unlike suburban schools, the public schools constructed in the years following World War II in Manhattan were designed to accommodate the specific challenges and needs of the urban environment. These schools, now of preservation age, continue to be underappreciated resources.
Photo: JHS 22 Gustave Straubenmuller, Kelly & Gruzen, 1955-59, credit: Tianchi Yang
The post-war wave of public school construction in Manhattan largely parallels school construction programs throughout the United States, but the reasons for this new construction were different in New York. Across the United States school building programs sought to provide adequate classroom space for the seemingly ever-increasing student body of the post-war baby boom. In Manhattan, the population of school-aged children only marginally increased and the construction boom was more indicative of a shifting population and issues of providing quality education to underserved communities. Ensuring an investment in both ethnically diverse communities and poorer neighborhoods was evident by the strategic number of schools built and the architects chosen for projects in particular areas of the city.