Public School 48 (now P75Q at P.S. 48, The Robert E. Peary School)

STATUS Designated Individual Landmark

ARCHITECT: Walter C. Martin

DATE: 1932-1936

STYLE: Art Deco

Art Deco School

P.S. 48 was one of twenty-four schools constructed in New York during the 1930s as part of the Public Works Administration program. All schools were built on city-owned property, with the federal government providing $25 million in funds for their construction. These schools provided 50,000 new seats and were designed in an array of architectural styles, to “relieve the monotony of standardization” and thought to be of educational value to students of art and literature.  The first of these federally-funded schools to open was Bayside High School in Queens (extant).
P.S. 48 followed a basic formula of all public schools built in New York City during this era, with a focus on modernization and thrift: cornices and ornamental projections were eliminated from designs to save costs on the copper flashing which these features required. This “so-called modernistic” style of architecture, as the New York Times described it, embodied a “strict adherence to simplicity.” This style is evident at P.S. 48, which is a rectangular, symmetrical building with sparely applied ornament. The ornament is concentrated at the entrances, with door surrounds of flattened eagles separated by stylized anthemions, surmounted by a dancette course. At the west end, the first-floor spandrel above the entrance features a terra cotta panel of a book depicting knowledge, radiating light. The west and east sides of the school feature roundels of stylized “P.S. 48”, the New York State seal, and a book and torch surrounded by laurel wreaths. The building terminates in piers of decorative terra cotta capitals in quintessential Art Deco frozen fountain motifs.

STATUS Designated Individual Landmark

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