Also a style of architecture utilizing said stone, or similar architecture using other stone, and the resulting buildings.

Brownstones were the popular form of upper middle class housing built in America from the 1840s through around 1900. They usually featured rows of elegant, mostly identical stone row houses, sometimes featuring imposing porches, fancy staircases, and elaborate Victorian interiors. Often brownstone developments had rear courtyards and gardens. Brownstone developments were usually built all at once or block by block by major developers on previously undeveloped land, much like today's suburban subdivisions, although in a more beautiful and much less environmentally destructive and tacky way.

Brownstone architecture dominated the upper middle class development of the era in cities like Manhattan, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and Boston, which still have many neighborhoods of them, and can also be seen to varying extents in Washington, Cincinnati, and other cities which were wealthy and expanding in the era. Often more downscale developments were built to resemble brownstone districts in many ways, but can be distinguished becuase brownstones have the tell tale signs of being built for single family habitiation.

After 1900, the rise of the private automobile made longer commutes and unwalkable neighborhoods possible for the upper middle class, and suburban development changed. Now homes could be spaced out with lawns, and located farther from city centers and away from public transportation. The era of brownstone development was thus over.

Brownstone neighborhoods are beautiful and functional, and although urban decay and the schemes of highway planners have destroyed many of them, others remain and are beautiful, inspiring, and coveted districts. The largest swath of Brownstone neighborhoods is in Brooklyn, where the 'Brownstone Belt' of neighborhoods fans out for many square miles from downtown Brooklyn, and deserves its own node. In Manhattan, Greenwich Village took shape in the 1840s as a brownstone district, where many still stand today west of Sixth Avenue and north of Washington Square Park between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. The next generation of Manhattan brownstone development was in the 1880s and 1890s, and took place in Harlem, at that time a suburban neighborhood.

Brown"stone` (?), n.

A dark variety of sandstone, much used for building purposes.

 

© Webster 1913.

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