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.
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.
'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 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.