Episode 14 ニューヨークのブラウンストーン (NYC Architecture Brownstone Buildings)


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Today we are going to dive into the question of: “What is a brownstone?” And, why brownstones conjure up feelings of both nostalgia and envy. All that and more on today’s episode of The New York Breeze.

dive into ~ ~に没頭する、集中して取り掛かる conjure up ~  ~を呼び起こす、を思い起させる 


I.  The Stone  石材

First and foremost, what makes a brownstone a real brownstone? Obviously the pale brown color is an indicator, but that’s not all there is to it. Actually, brownstones are brick townhouses built with a sandstone facade. The name “brownstone” comes from a kind of sandstone mined in nearby Portland, Connecticut. The sandstone contains iron ore, which turns brown over time, after it’s been weathered.
First and foremost,  真っ先に、何よりもまず、   obviously 明らかに   façade  建物の正面

That’s all there is to it.  それについてはそれだけのことだ。 townhouse   棟続きの住宅  iron ore 鉄鉱石


まず、本物のブラウンストーンとは何か を考えましょう。淡いブラウンが指標となるのは明らかなのですが、それだけではないのです。実際、ブラウンストーンは正面に砂岩を施したレンガ造りのタウンハウスです。ブラウンストーンという名前は近郊のポートランドやコネチカット州で採掘された砂岩から来ています。ここの砂岩は鉄鉱石を含んでいるのですが、風雨にさらされ、時を経るとブラウンになるのです。

II. The Nostalgia ノスタルジア

The heyday of the brownstone was way back in the 1840s up until the early 1900s when the raw material was plentiful and inexpensive. Still today, brownstone retains its mystique as a signifier of both urban sophistication and neighborhood appeal. However, by 2012, the New York Times published a story about the closing of the quarry where almost all the brownstone came from. It was called “Bidding Farewell to a City’s Precious Stone.”

heyday  全盛期、最盛期  retain  保持する   mystique  神秘的雰囲気  quarry  採石場

Bidding farewell to  ~ = Saying good bye to ~ 

* neighborhood appeal —–街並み・住宅街を魅力あるものにする、そのエリアのグレード・価値を高める 

“neighborhood appeal” is similar to, and I believe derived from, the popular phrase “curbside appeal.” It means building / refurbishing / installing something that improves the neighborhood or a house. 



III. The Envy  羨望
Let me quote from that New York Times story, because it gets to the essence of why brownstones are so beautiful and conjure up envy in our hearts.


“Brownstones occupy a unique place in the New York City
psyche, as one of the city’s most prototypical signposts,
like yellow cabs and fast walkers, yet are able to stir aching
desire and teeth-baring jealousy.  Everybody wants one.”

psyche 魂、精神  the New York City  psyche —- It’s basically a rewording of that famous Billy Joel song, “New York state of mind.”  

prototypical  原型的な, 原型  signpost道標、明確な手がかり  envy  ねたみ, うらやましさ, 羨望


IV. The Stoop      道路から入口までの階段


One of the most distinctive features of a classic brownstone townhouse is its stoop. It is both functional and ornamental. Initially, the stoop enabled a second entrance for the help and deliveries. The word “stoop” comes from the Dutch word for “stair.” The Dutch built stoops to raise their parlor floor well above the garden level where flood could occur.

distinctive features  際立った特徴  functional and ornamental  機能的で装飾的

 “The parlor floor”  is the second floor in a townhouse. In its original form, the building’s front steps accessed the parlor floor. The parlor is traditionally the grandest floor in the townhouse and almost always has the building’s highest ceilings.


The stoop creates a neighborly flair. In more modern times, the stoop created a place for people to gather and for neighbors to see one another. Think of that most friendly of addresses:123 Sesame Street where the characters gather and the show begins to unfold — it’s on the stoop of a brownstone.


The main areas where brownstones were built are Brooklyn, the Upper West Side and Harlem. You’ll find some in the West Village and elsewhere.

Can you think of places in your neighborhood that promote gathering, community and neighborly interaction?



V. The Style 様式



The architectural style of a brownstone is almost always a rowhouse. Neighboring buildings adjoin and create one solid facade. The hallmark of a brownstone is the nearly seamless line between one townhouse and another.Brownstones are typically 3 or 4 stories tall. A 19th century feature of brownstones is they frequently have fireplaces.

adjoin  隣接する、隣り合っている

row house  テラスハウス(壁で仕切られてつながっている集合住宅の1つ)

frequently しばしば,たびたび,頻繁に



Most of the craftsmen who created the stonework on NYC brownstones were German immigrants. Today, restoring a 19th century brownstone in the 21st century is expensive, and finding skilled craftsmen with integrity is nearly impossible. Most brownstones are Italianate. Some of the later examples, especially on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, were built in the Queen Anne, Beaux Arts, and Romanesque styles.


The Italianate style of architecture —— a distinct 19th-century phase in the history of Classical architecture

Beaux-Arts architecture —-ボザール建築様式       エコール・デ・ボザール(Ecole des Beaux-Arts)で教えられた古代ギリシャ・ローマ様式にルネサンスの主題を取り入れた古典的建築様式。アメリカにも大きな影響を与え、1885~1920年に裁判所、美術館、鉄道の駅、庁舎などがこの様式で作られた。


What kind of architecture do you like?

If you could design your dream home, what would it be like?


Here are some questions from our listeners:

Q: Do brownstones have gardens in the backyard? ブラウンストーンには裏庭があるのですか。

Yes, generally there’s a backyard. Eh, it could be a small garden. Usually there’s some trees.

It depends on the size of the lot, how big it’s going to be.


Q:  Next question: If one family lives in a brownstone — say from the first floor to the third or fourth floor — is it considered a large home by New York City standards?


I’d say yes, definitely. The brownstone is a single-family townhouse. And by city standards they are very luxurious and spacious. Some brownstones have been converted into apartments where each floor becomes an apartment.  But if a single family lives in a brownstone, that’s definitely ample space.


Q: Last question: Does the so-called… uh… envy and nostalgia apply to only New Yorkers? Or is this maybe an American, uh, or do all Americans share in it? ブラウンストーンへの羨望とノスタルジアはニューヨーカーに特有のものなのか、それともアメリカ人が概して持っているものなのですか。

I’d say yes. Uh, a lot of Americans wish they could visit or even live in New York City. And also by, you know, certain TV shows that feature brownstones as the place of where the show is — or the show or movie is set — it’s iconic. And it’s like the ultimate, you know, to have your own brownstone in New York City. Uh, not for everybody. Some people prefer co-op living.  And obviously if you like suburbs or suburban or country living that’s that. But if you want to have a really nice setup in New York City, you can’t get much better than a brownstone.


The other thing is, everybody would love to have a, a townhouse, but very few of us have a spare ten to twenty million dollars to buy that kind of home.


All right. Thank you for listening and taking time to enjoy our podcast. If you like what you hear, hit that ‘Like’ button, write us a nice review, and get subscribed. Until next time; Peace.

 VISIT  (Text only —–ここの音声はありません )

If you want to experience the charm and opulence of a historic brownstone building, then there’s one of a former U.S. President: the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace on East 20th Street in Manhattan is open to the public most days of the week.



NYC の建築に興味のある方はこちらもご覧ください。
Episode 25 のコラム「NYC街歩き」では大邸宅ミュージアム「クーパーヒューイット・スミソニアン・デザインミュージアム (Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum)」を取り上げています。(音声はありません。)