Art Deco style is a wave of design that focuses on the new age and ideas of the modern age. This type of architecture swept across the United States between the 1930s to the 1960s. Art Deco structures typically have a sleek, linear appearance that is combined with stylish geometric ornamentation that adds a unique flair to the building. The primary facade of these buildings frequently features a sequence of setbacks that create a clear outline. Buildings with the style have distinctions through the decorative details incorporated for the building’s function or the artistic flare. Chevrons, zigzags, and other linear elements were some of the geometrical forms of ornamentation found on these buildings.
Here are 10 examples of Art Deco architecture across the United States.
1. The Carlyle – Miami Beach, Florida
Miami, Florida, holds the largest concentration of Art Deco style buildings in the entire world, oozing 1930s charm along its most popular oceanfront. Among these is the iconic “The Carlyle.” This classic Miami Beach building has bold Art Deco features, like the striking vertical piers, horizontal lines, visor-like sunshades, and rounded corners. It sits along Ocean Drive and has been virtually unchanged since its completion in 1941. It served as a backdrop in popular films such as Scarface and Bad Boys II and is now serving as a private residential building.
2. The Union Terminal – Cincinnati, Ohio
Built from 1929 to 1933, the Cincinnati Union Terminal was originally home to a bustling train station. It is home to the largest half-dome in the Western Hemisphere, and was an important place during World War II, transporting over three million troops throughout the war. It has a one-of-a-kind mosaic and ceiling murals within the building depicting different industrial themes. The Art Deco style was chosen with its proposed cost savings in mind, as well as its liveliness, color, and modern decoration. The rotunda within the building holds the biggest display of art deco style, with colorful pastels, windows with decorated flues, and beautiful mosaic murals.
3. The U-Drop Inn United States Highway 66 – Shamrock, Texas
Built along the historic Route 66 highway, this unusual example was designed by J. C. Berry. This gas station and restaurant design were inspired by the image of a nail stuck in the soil. The building features two flared towers with geometric detailing, curvilinear massing, and glazed ceramic tile walls. It also has a zigzag motif and strong vertical elements, making it a keen example of the Art Deco style. Through the use of neon light accents, it intensifies the colors and unique figures. It has traditionally held two separate businesses: “Tower Station”, a gas station on the western side, and the “U-Drop Inn”, a café on the eastern side.
4. Paramount Theater – Oakland, California
The Paramount Theater was the largest multi-purpose theater on the West Coast when it was built in 1931. Designed by San Francisco architect Timothy L. Pflueger, the building has a show-stopping entrance due to its height and colorful palette. The interior is just as impressive, with a 58-foot-high grand lobby, sidewalls made of alternating vertical bands of green artificial light panels and red piers, and with both ends and ceiling decorated with bright grillwork. It’s rare and costly materials form a regal introduction.
5. Verizon Building – Manhattan, New York
Standing 498 feet tall and containing 32 stories, the Verizon Building is regarded as the first Art Deco skyscraper. The building has an imposing form, with vertical piers, setbacks at upper floors, and detailed ornamentation on both the interior and exterior. The facade uses inspiration from Maya architecture, with bricks in hues of green, gold, and buff, a material the designer preferred for its texture and color. The Verizon Building also includes serrated stone-and-light-brick parapets, which, when combined with the building’s vertical piers, give a natural look to the setbacks.
6. 711 Brightwater Court – Brooklyn, New York
While this Brooklyn apartment building is not recognized as a designated landmark, it is an Art Deco phenomenon. Just a block from Brighton Beach lies 711 Brightwater Court, created by architect Martyn N. Weinstein in 1934. The facade has a glazed terracotta and zig-zagging brick patterns. Directly above the front entrance, each window has a colorful motif of orange, blue, and green terra cotta. The six-story structure also has a regal introduction, with the front door decorated with luxurious black and gold ornamentation.
7. The Marlin Hotel – Miami Beach, Florida
This three-story historical property was designed in 1939 by L. Murray Dixon. The beautifully renovated hotel resides on Collins Avenue, two blocks from Ocean Drive. It has an Art Deco exterior facade, with blue and yellow pastel colors. It has its iconic “eyebrows” over each of the windows, a trademark done by the architect. Directly above the front entrance, there is a colorful pattern with elegant ornamentation that enhances the pastel colors and adds to the building’s verticality.
8. The Warner Theatre – Erie, Pennsylvania
The Warner Theatre is an Art Deco and French Renaissance-style theater and the only deluxe downtown picture palace in Erie. It has a grand entrance, with a freestanding ticket booth made of solid bronze and a large scale vertical sign. It has neon light accents extending upward and outward over the entrance. The interior is no less luxurious. The Grand Lobby is gold-gilded, with a regal staircase and bronze banisters that lead through an archway of marble, gold-gilded, and draped tapestry.
9. The Carbide and Carbon Building – Chicago, Illinois
Designed by the Burnham Brothers, this example of Art Deco architecture is rumored to purposely resemble a dark green champagne bottle with a gold foil on top. The facade is made out of polished black granite and the tower of dark green terra cotta with 24-karat gold leaf accents. The leaf ornamentation is meant to reference the subterranean carbon deposits in the decay of ancient plants. The interior also has Art Deco bronze work trim with frosted glass fixtures and Belgian marble to greet visitors in the lobby.
10. Eastern Columbia Building – Los Angeles, California
This thirteen-story building designed by Claud Beelman is characterized as “the benchmark of deco buildings in Los Angeles”. The facade is a glossy turquoise terracotta trimmed with deep blue and gold trim and is decorated with patterns, geometric shapes, zigzags, chevrons, and stylized animal and plant forms. The building has a vertical emphasis due to its deeply recessed bands of paired windows and spandrels with copper panels separated by vertical columns. To add on to its height, it has a four-sided clock tower crowned with a central smokestack surrounded by four stylized flying buttresses.