Post Office lobby wins landmark status

The majestic lobby of the Post Office building on the Grand Concourse at East 149th St. is now officially a city landmark.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the designation of the lobby as an interior landmark in December, citing its architectural and historic significance.

The exterior of the building was granted landmark status in 1976.

Thirteen historic murals completed in 1939 by artists Ben Shahn and Bernarda Bryson grace the walls of the lobby, which also features Ionic columns and a striped marble and terrazzo floor. The murals are a tribute to workers of the era, portraying miners, steelworkers, hydroelectrical engineers, wheat and cotton harvesters and textile manufacturers.

“These striking, larger-than-life murals are not only well preserved, they remain in the same

location where they were originally installed 75 years ago this month,” said Commission Chairman Robert B. Tierney, pointing out that the murals depict “the ideals of the New Deal-era public works programs”  from the era of the Great Depression.

When constructed in 1937 with funding from the New Deal program, the building served as the borough’s first postal headquarters.

Last year, the US Postal Service, announced it planned to sell the building, setting off a firestorm of criticism from residents and elected officials, including Rep. Jose E. Serrano. The murals “were always meant to be part of the public fabric of the community,” wrote Serrano in a press release that lauded the landmarks commission for its decision to protect the lobby.

“I believe that were the Postal Service to truly engage with the community on this issue, they would learn that the best way to ensure public access would be to keep the building open as a postal facility,” he wrote.

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