CADMAN TOWERS

 101 Clark Street, Cadman Towers. Credit: NYC Urbanism, 2017.

101 Clark Street, Cadman Towers. Credit: NYC Urbanism, 2017.

Cadman Towers
Date: 1971
Architect: Glass & Glass, Whittlesey & Conklin
Address: 10 Clinton Street, 101 Clark Street
Use: Residential with supermarket and synogogue on street level

 Cadman Towers towards the end of construction. Credit: NYC Urbanism.

Cadman Towers towards the end of construction. Credit: NYC Urbanism.

Cadman Towers and its creatively named neighbor to the north, Cadman North are part of the larger Brooklyn Civic Center and Cadman Plaza urban renewal plan which started in the 1940s and was not fully completed until the mid-70s. After the demolition of the elevated train line that connected today's Fulton Street Mall with the Fulton Ferry at Pier 1 of the East River, planners' immediate response was to raze many of the historic buildings instead of restoring them. Robert Moses envisioned an open plaza that would rival those in the great European cities. Cadman Plaza was carved out of the blocks north of Borough Hall connecting to the Brooklyn Bridge. Fulton and Washington streets were widened and renamed Cadman Plaza West and Cadman Plaza East. Every building north of Borough Hall would be demolished except the Romanesque post office and a new courthouse would be constructed in front of Borough Hall. A library was also constructed on the west side of Fulton at the beginning of Clinton Street.  

The blocks to the west of the former Fulton Street were filled with 19th-century buildings, mainly walkups with apartments and businesses. Notably, Walt Whitman worked in one of these buildings on the corner of Cranberry and Fulton where he published his first version of Leaves of Grass

The proposal for this site, a middle-income residential development part of the recently created Mitchell-Lama housing subsidy program, included two saw-toothed poured concrete towers of 32 and 13 stories, built atop a raised landscaped private plaza named Cadman Plaza. During the course of the planning in 1965, the neighborhood had been designated the first historic district and was protected by the newly established Landmarks Preservation Committee, however, these blocks were already incorporated into the urban renewal area and not included in the historic district, despite construction not being approved by the city until August, 1968. 

 Rendering of Cadman Towers townhouses. Credit: New York Real Estate Brochures Collection - Columbia University.

Rendering of Cadman Towers townhouses. Credit: New York Real Estate Brochures Collection - Columbia University.

 Rendering of Cadman Towers, looking north from Clinton Street. Credit: New York Real Estate Brochures Collection - Columbia University.

Rendering of Cadman Towers, looking north from Clinton Street. Credit: New York Real Estate Brochures Collection - Columbia University.

Construction on the 420‐unit cooperative development began in 1969 and took two years. To try and appeal to the preservationists and match the scale of the surrounding neighborhood, the developers added fifty duplex townhouses to the development. The townhouses, like towers, were behind six-foot-tall concrete walls, unsuccessfully intertwining with the fabric of the neighborhood. As Francis Morrone points out in An Architectural Guidebook to Brooklyn, "these developments were part not only of the makeover of Fulton Street, but the eastern part of Brooklyn Heights, where they introduced a jarring new scale, new materials, and a new style into the fine old row-house district." The elevated plaza connects the two towers with an elevated pedestrian bridge over Clark Street. While the towers offer balconies, two sides of each tower are monotonous large windowless concrete walls. At street level, the northern side of the north tower faces Pineapple Walk, a pedestrian walkway with retail along the first floor of the building. Cadman Plaza also houses a supermarket and synagogue at street level along with two parking garages with spots for about half the total number of units. 

 

 100 Clark Street floor plan. Credit: New York Real Estate Brochures Collection - Columbia University.

100 Clark Street floor plan. Credit: New York Real Estate Brochures Collection - Columbia University.

Sources:

Weisman, Steve R. Cadman Towers Fights Symbol Of Middle‐Class Housing Plight. The New York Times, 1972. 

Cadman Towers History. Cadman Inc. 

Morrone, Francis. An Architectural Guidebook to Brooklyn. 2001. p. 63.

 

 

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