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MANHATTAN TRADE SCHOOL FOR GIRLS
(now The New Manhattan High School Collaborative)
127 East 22nd Street
Architect: C.B.J. Snyder
1915-19

Manhattan Trade School for Girls

The Manhattan Trade School for Girls was established as a private philanthropy in 1902 with the aim of teaching skills to working girls so that these girls could gain employment in jobs where they would be paid a decent wage; the school also ensured that skilled labor would be available to New York's businesses. According to the schoolÕs First Annual Report, this was "an experiment without precedent." The school was supported by a combination of wealthy New York men and women with an interest in charitable pursuits and a group of professionals involved with a variety of reform endeavors. The school was originally located on West 14th Street, moving to East 23rd Street in about 1907. In response to the increasing demand for vocational education, the New York City school system absorbed the Manhattan Trade School and it became one of four vocational schools in the city and the only one that admitted female students.

According to those who ran the school, these trades were chosen because

[they] employ large numbers of women. They require expert workers; training for them is difficult to obtain. They are well paid; favorable conditions prevail in the workrooms and there is chance for promotion to better pay.
This view of conditions and opportunities in the factories where graduates might have been employed appears to be somewhat rosier than reality, but this school was an important commitment, first by private individuals and later by the city, to train young women for trades in which they might be able to make and adequate income.

At the time that the Manhattan Trade School for Girls became part of the public-school system, students attended classes for seven hours a day. Five hours each day were spent in trade practice; 1 1/2 hours were spent studying nonvocational subjects that could be applied to trade work, such as English, arithmetic, and textile design; and 30 minutes a day were spent in hygiene and gymnastics class.

The demand for admittance to this free city school was so great that a larger building was needed. Designs for the new building were begun in 1914, and plans were approved by the New York City Art Commission in 1915. In that year, the principal of the school recommended "that strenuous effort be made to have the new building ready for occupancy at the earliest possible moment. Under the present conditions the progress of the trade school is being steadily impaired, since it is impossible, with continuous overcrowding, not only to do the present work efficiently, but also to undertake new lines of activity until better accommodations are provided."

Manhattan Trade School for Girls

The school was designed by C.B.J. Snyder, the city's Superintendent of School Buildings and the architect responsible for the design of a large number of New York's most important school buildings. The Manhattan Trade School's home is among the most unusual early-20th-century school buildings in the city. For this building, Snyder was faced with demands to design a public-school building, but one with space needs that were considerably different from those of most schools. Snyder designed a building in the Collegiate Gothic mode, "similar to that of the other school buildings erected by the city during recent years." Snyder excelled in the use of this style, designing New York's finest Collegiate Gothic schools, including Morris, Erasmus Hall, Flushing, and Curtis high schools. At the Manhattan Trade School, the collegiate imagery was applied to a loftlike structure. In addition, figures at the cornice level hold books and tools. This combination of a loftlike structure with collegiate imagery was appropriate for a school where students were trained in trades that were largely carried out in industrial lofts.

With the exception of the limestone ground floor, the building is entirely clad in white terra cotta. At the time of its completion, this was the tallest school building in the city. It had stores on the ground floor (initial plans called for a sales room and restaurant). On the second floor was a large lecture hall, on the top floor a gymnasium, and on the intermediate floors a series of workrooms. The terra-cotta facades have recently been restored and, except for the loss of the rooftop parapet and original window sash, the building remains as built. It still functions as a city high school, although no longer a vocational school for girls.

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GRAMERCY PARK EAST:

37
38


GRAMERCY PARK NORTH:

40
44
45
60


LEXINGTON AVENUE:

1
Gramercy Park Hotel
Park Gramercy


PARK AVENUE SOUTH:

Church Missions House
New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children


EAST 22ND STREET:

United Charities Building
Manhattan Trade School for Girls
Gramercy Arms
Sage House
Family Court Building
Children's Court
145
Gustavus Adolphus Swedish Lutheran Church
Parish House
Lexington
Miss E.L. Breese Carriage House
Gramercy Court
158


THIRD AVENUE


EAST 19TH STREET:

105
109
111 & 113
115 & 117
IRT Company Substation
112-114
116
118
120
122


IRVING PLACE:

65 & 71
67-69
81


NYSCA To EXIT and return to Preserve & Protect

last revised 31 August 1998

nL
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