1876-1917: American Renaissance Revival
An essay on the renaissance in commercial architecture by C. Matrlock Price appeared in the May 1912 issue of Architectural Record , in which he wrote, “It is fortunate that no attempt has been made by [the] architectural dilettanti to talk of an ‘American Style’ in city architecture…our city buildings based upon European prototypes are too obvious.”
The completion of New York’s 31-story Bankers Trust Building, the world’s tallest bank, exemplified Price’s sentiment toward austere decorative schemes and architectural Greek motifs that pay tribute to Neoclassicism. Yet, as a nod to American ingenuity, the building’s architects, Trowbridge and Livingston, added a ziggurat granite tower topped by a large stepped pyramidal roof modeled on Macedonia’s portico at Palititiza, a structure unanimously praised by critics for its innovation.
While sleek skyscrapers graced city skylines, sprawling public buildings were a marvel of Beaux-Arts architecture beautifully realized in James Reilly Gordon’s majestic Bergen County Court House, a granite and marble building of power and dignity flanked by statues symbolizing history and the law.