Dunbar Apartments

STATUS Designated Individual Landmark

2588 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd

ARCHITECT: Andrew J. Thomas

DATE: 1926-28

STYLE: Apartment

Apartment Manhattan Washington Heights

Designated  7/14/1970

The Dunbar Apartments, named after the famous Black poet of the turn of the century, Paul Lawrence Dunbar (1872-1906), occupies the entire block bounded by 149th and 150th Streets and Seventh and Eighth Avenues. It was the first large cooperative built for Blacks and was Manhattan’s earliest large garden apartment complex.

Financed by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and designed by the architect Andrew J. Thomas, the building was completed in 1928 and was destined, from the planning and sociological points of view, to occupy a pivotal place in the history of the Harlem community. The complex consists of six independent U-shaped buildings, containing 511 apartments, and is clustered around a large interior garden court. Eight arched entrance ways lead into the court and to public staircases.

With its lawns, shrubs and trees, the garden court provides a quiet, green oasis removed from the traffic and noise of the surrounding streets. Architecturally, the dominant note is one of simplicity. The architect successfully avoided the cold monotony of many later housing projects by breaking up the massive walI surfaces. He varied the heights of the buildings from five to six stories, alternately projected and recessed adjoining units and introduced a variety of window alignments and sizes. The warm tones and varicolored brick are set off by decorative accents of limestone. Handsome wrought iron balconies and window guards and architectural terra-cotta at the roof level complete the decorative scheme.

STATUS Designated Individual Landmark

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Washington Heights

The neighborhood is named for Fort Washington, a fortification constructed at the highest point on the island of Manhattan by Continental Army troops during the American Revolutionary War, to defend the area from the British forces.

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Doreen Gallo: DUMBO Neighborhood Alliance

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Fern Luskin: Lamartine Place Historic District; Friends of Lamartine Place & Gibbons Underground Railroad Site

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Elena Martinez
City Lore, Folklorist
Bronx Music Heritage Center, Co-Artistic Director

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