21st Century Gargoyles

I was walking down a familiar avenue — looking up and admiring the 19th century gargoyles perched above New York City. I found some good ones, gargoyles that had escaped me on previous walks, including two flanking the recently cleaned and gleaming copper roof of a 1889 loft building on Broadway.

As I strolled downtown I began to wonder about new gargoyles. There are some wonderful Art Deco gargoyles uptown including the famous Chrysler Building (begun 1928, completed 1930). But new gargoyles all but disappeared in the later half of the 20th century. Now, in the second decade of the 21st, gargoyles are architectural antiques.

This got me pondering what new gargoyles would look like.

There are so many things to fear — global warming, terrorism, dirty bombs, chemical warfare, poverty, crime, deadly viruses, drug resistant bacteria, tsunami waves, super storm hurricanes, wild fires, avalanches, religious bigots, identity thieves, drunk drivers, predatory mortgage lenders, health insurance bureaucrats…. The list goes on and on.

Think about it. What creature would personify contemporary fears? What fearsome creature could ward off those terrifying events? I’m really not sure. As I walked along, I thought about a few choice U.S. political figures and international leaders of suspect note, posing for modern gargoyles. The head of (fill in the name of your least favorite political figure) on top of a loathsome winged rat with a barbed tail, pointy teeth and curved claws.

Pretty scary, ugh? I thought so. I have a few candidates in mind. They represent the worst of contemporary anxiety, but I haven’t come up with one that would protect us — only scare us more.

What kind of modern gargoyle would scare you?


  1. Oh I had to laugh! I immediately pictured our Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader squatting on a rooftop, spewing dirty water! Thanks, this was fun. 🙂

  2. In our enlightened belief in science and the proofs offered in its study, I wonder if our bogeymen of old have now changed. Did we lose the fantasy at some point? Is it possible that some gun toting redneck would make for a more fright inducing sight on a moonlit night staring down at us from the top of a sky scraper? Or would this seem too real?

    The actions of a true monster like Dahmer or Mcveigh are scary only in what is known of their actions, the stark terror that is right in front of us. The power of the gargoyle is within the unknown, the strange bumps in the deep darkness of night. This could just be the romantic ramblings of terrors that are still unknown to us, but I would prefer to hold onto the magic that the gargoyles represent. They hold the unknown at bay. I don’t think the monsters we face everyday could ever match that kind of power without bringing us into a state of hopelessness.

    • Candy

      With so many people questioning science — preferring conspiracy theories and faux science — I wonder too. One thing is certain, in the 21st Century it can’t be a one-size (& shape) fits all for gargoyles. The magic that held the fears of the night is diffuse, but we still want something to keep those fears at bay.

  3. I may not stop laughing for the next two days as I’m picturing most of the Republican party as gargoyles over here. Plus a number of Democrats look like gargoyles now that I think of it. Hee-hee.

    • Candy

      I chuckled at a similar image of congress, and its leadership, lined up on a rooftop with wings & claws at the ready.

  4. My modern gargoyle would be a mish-mash of all the technical devices that contribute of making it harder for humans to connect, but also making connection easier at the same time. I visited the Biltmore Estate last spring in Asheville, NC and took tons of pictures of the gargoyles perched all over the chateau. They are so creepily fantastic!

    • Candy

      Hee Hee… I love your Tech Mish-Mash Monster. It would definitely have a bit of the cell phone that let’s you pick up your emails while you are out to dinner with a friend (staying connected) but keeps you from listening to the person across the table (disconnected). Had a date like that. I really don’t want to have dinner with a man AND his beloved smartphone.