brownstone

brownstone

[broun-stohn]
brownstone, red to brown variety of sandstone. Its unusual color is caused in some instances by the presence of red iron oxide which acts as a cement, binding the sand grains together. Vast thicknesses (up to 20,000 ft/6,096 m) of brownstone were deposited in the present-day Connecticut River Valley of Massachusetts and Connecticut and in central New Jersey during the latter part of the Triassic period. Quarries in these regions were the source for much of the building stone used in the late 19th and early 20th cent. in the construction of the many brownstone houses found from Baltimore to Boston; the stone, however, is not very durable, especially if poorly laid or maintained. Similar, but more brightly colored, sandstones also were deposited in the Rocky Mt. region during the Triassic period and Jurassic period. These deposits are called "redbeds" and make up the colorful landscapes of the Painted Desert of Arizona.

Brownstone is a brown Triassic sandstone which was once a popular building material. The term is also understood to be a terraced house (rowhouse) clad in this material.

Brownstone dwellings

In Boston and New York City, a "brownstone" is understood to be a terraced house (rowhouse) clad in brownstone. These brownstone apartments typically have stairways which lead from the sidewalk to a second-floor apartment entrance, a design originally intended to avoid bringing in the mud and horse droppings commonly found at street level, a problem that existed when these apartments were built and horses roamed the streets. Boston's brownstones are abundant in the Back Bay neighborhood and along Commonwealth Ave, where many have been converted to shops or apartment-style housing. Most were built as luxury townhouses during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. New York City brownstones tend to be found in certain older neighborhoods, which are perhaps most common in Brooklyn. For example, the neighborhood of Bedford Stuyvesant has the largest inventory of brownstones in the entire City of New York, followed closely by Park Slope. Many brownstones have been renovated in recent years, leading to (and/or as a result of) gentrification in areas like Park Slope, Bedford Stuyvesant and Fort Greene.

In Chicago, a brownstone typically refers to a free-standing house, originally built for a single family, clad in brownstone. While many Chicago brownstones have subsequently been split into multiple rental or condominium units, many others remain single-family homes.

Philadelphia has an abundant number of brownstones. Due to urban renewal, brownstones are developing in Detroit as well.

Popular culture

Rex Stout's fictional detective Nero Wolfe lives in a luxurious and comfortable New York City brownstone on West 35th Street. In the television show I Love Lucy (1951–1957), the Ricardos lived in a converted Brownstone apartment building on New York's East 68th Street owned by their friends the Mertzes. On the popular American television program The Cosby Show (1984–1992), the affluent Huxtable family, the show's central characters, lived in a Brooklyn brownstone. Carrie Bradshaw, the protagonist of Sex and The City, resided in a brownstone at a fictitious Upper East Side address in New York City.

The term brownstone may also be used as slang for heroin, particularly in the United States; "Mr. Brownstone" is a Guns N' Roses song about heroin use. This could be related to brownstone neighborhoods in Harlem where dealers were likely to live, as in the lyrics of the Velvet Underground song, I'm Waiting for the Man. Although the idea is popular though, it is highly disputed amongst GNR fans. Prior to success, members of the band Izzy and Axl were said to have lived in West Lafayette, IN. It is a common belief that while residing in this city, members of the band bought heroin from a dealer living in Brownstone apartments. Brownstone apartments is located on the 500 block of Russell st. in West Lafayette, IN a few blocks from Purdue's campus to this day.

Notable types of brownstone

Apostle Island brownstone

In the 19th century Basswood Island was the site of a quarry run by the Bass Island Brownstone Company which operated from 1868 into the 1890s. The brownstone from this and other Apostle Islands quarries was in great demand, and brownstone from Basswood Island was used in the construction of the first Milwaukee County Courthouse in the 1860s.

Hummelstown brownstone

Hummelstown brownstone is extremely popular along the East Coast of the United States of America, with numerous government buildings from West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, and Delaware being faced entirely with the stone. The stone comes from the Hummelstown Quarry in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania, a small town outside of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The Hummelstown Quarry is the largest provider of brownstone in along the east coast. Typically the stone was transported out of Hummelstown through the Brownstone and Middletown Railroad or taken by truck up to the Erie Canal.

See also

External links

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