America's Art Deco

SPARKLING SURVIVORS Once admired, later scorned, now cherished again, art deco buildings still enliven streetscapes across the United States. Here are six of our favorites:

Wisconsin
Wisconsin Gas Company Building, Milwaukee

Credit: Mary Ann Sullivan

Wisconsin Gas Company Building, Milwaukee The local firm of Eschweiler and Eschweiler designed this 21-story landmark for the gas utility. Completed in 1930, the structure housed the utility's offices for almost 70 years. Now it has been converted into another office building, and the famed gas beacon atop the roof once again flickers and changes color to forecast the weather.

Bullocks Wilshire Department Store, Los Angeles  One of the most lavish art deco structures in the country, the building opened in 1929. Built from reinforced concrete, terra cotta, and verdigris copper, it features a soaring 241-foot-high tower, remarkable exterior detailing, and a series of notable murals. Southwestern Law School purchased and restored the building by consulting original plans and archival photos.

U.S. Post Office, Miami Beach  Designed by architect Howard Cheney in the moderne style and opened in 1937, the structure on Washington Avenue has a restrained, streamlined exterior and an elaborate lobby triptych, which artist Charles Hardman painted with funding from the Works Progress Administration.

Niagara Mohawk Building, Syracuse, N.Y. This gem, inaugurated in 1932, rises like a ziggurat to a stepped tower. The facade shows off a range of materials, including brick, stainless steel, and black glass. A 20-by-28-foot stainless steel sculpture called Spirit of Light dominates the wall above the main entrance.

Dallas Fair Park  The 277-acre cultural and entertainment center comprises nine museums, a lagoon, the Texas Vietnam Memorial, and six performance facilities. Home to the largest collection of art deco exposition architecture in the country, the park contains outstanding structures built for the Texas Centennial Exposition in 1936.

Greyhound Bus Terminal, Washington, D.C. Restored after a lengthy preservation fight (the c. 1940 building had been "modernized" and encased in cheap covering before being closed by the bus company), this moderne terminal now serves as the lobby for a large office building a few blocks from the White House.