Look UP!

I think I’ve found the Gargoyle Gathering place of New York.

I was walking on Union Square North and my eyes naturally followed a photographer’s lens, up, up, up above street level and, for the first time, I noticed the top floors of the Decker Building. I’ve long admired the ornate stonework surrounding the doorway of what is now a PUMA shop, but somehow I never noticed what was going on eleven floors above the street.

It looks like a little like a medieval monastery, in Spain where the Islamic influence was powerful. But, this is New York City so it’s NOT a historical relic of some distant past. New York — or this part of New York — is simply not that old so… What could it be?

A mock medieval cathedral high up above the park — it’s got to be the spot where the Flatiron District and Chelsea Gargoyles gather under cover of darkness. when they fly off their buildings at night. Maybe the Gargoyles of SoHo join them, too?

I went home and checked out the Decker on the Internet. Built in 1893, it was, for a time, the tallest building at Union Square. I think I never noticed the top floors because the stunning — house party for gargoyles — top floors no longer tower over late 19th century four and five story buildings. The top floors have been swallowed up in more recent buildings, which provide excellent cover for those Art Deco Gargoyles in search of a good place to hang out.

In 1869, when the German-born Decker brothers needed a building for their thriving post-Civil War piano business, they located their headquarters on Union Square. They replaced it in 1883 with a fantasy of Venetian arcades and Moorish balconies designed by John Edelmann (a radical who got himself thrown out of the Socialist party) that towered above the park. It’s still a monument to the power of cast iron filigrees and makes a very Chelsea fashion statement with a skinny, domed minaret at the top.

At the time, the tall narrow building got mixed reviews. Some people loved the fanciful, decorative elements, but much of the praise went to the state-of-the-art elevators and other modern conveniences.

Now, it’s a building out-of-time and out-of-place, hovering between worlds. Can you imagine a better place for off-hours Gargoyles to gather with their friends?


  1. Your post inspired me so much I started wondering if there were any gargoyles in Melbourne. We’re such a young nation I was resigned to being disappointed then… ta dah… I found this!

    I used to go to the Forum Theatre as a kid and always loved the mad rococo decorations dripping off the building but I had no idea it had lion gargoyles as well!
    Thank you – you’ve made me learn more about my own home town!

    • Candy

      Even the residents of ‘young countries’ can be surprised by Gargoyles! I don’t have a European trip planned this summer, but if I did, I’d plan a Gargoyle hunt. Oh, those old cities…. so rich with stone statues of monsters!

      • I love Australia but I do miss that sense of time and history that you get in European cities [and in the east as well I’m sure]. Sadly no matter how many decorative gargoyles we might have the patina of age would always be missing.

        Isn’t it strange that so much has been written about other monsters and yet gargoyles seem to have missed out. I think this is something you should remedy 🙂

        • Candy

          I have been thinking about them — now that I’m looking up in my neighborhood!

          There is that legend about the Gargoyles of Paris flying around during the night before returning to the roof of Notre Damn and a boat load of movies — mostly silly — about Gargoyles, but… there is definitely room for a story or two.

          • The only gargoyle story I can think of is something Katie used to watch on tv as a kid. It was a cartoon and I think there were good gargoyles and bad ones. Something like that. Definitely room for a contemporary story.

          • Candy

            There’s also a few horror/sci fi films. None that were so great, so you’re right about it being good story territory.