Custom House New York music video

Photos of the US Custom House New York with music performed by the Locrian Ensemble. Photos and music by Barry Mitchell.

The US Custom House, properly called the Alexander Hamilton US Custom House, is one of New York’s finest Beaux Arts buildings. The architect is Cass Gilbert (1859-1934) and the monumental sculptures at the entrance are by Daniel Chester French (1850-1931). The four monumental female figures are made of Tennesse marble and symbolise America, Asia, Europe and Africa. There are sculpted heads on the building representing the eight races of mankind. There are also sculptures representing seafaring nations.

I took the photos in March 2009 and as presented in the video they follow roughly this plan: starting at the left hand side of the front of the building as you look at it I moved across the front to the right and then around the building ending up where I started. Some of the details of the sculptures are unfortunately obscured by (very necessary) anti-pigeon wire.

The Custom House now houses a bankruptcy court and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. Entrance to the museum is free, so if you are ever in Manhattan I recommend a visit, not only to see this excellent museum but to take a break from the crowds. The interior of the building is just as striking as the exterior and of just as high quality so that is another reason to go inside.

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