As superintendent of school buildings from 1891 to 1922, C.B.J Snyder designed close to 350 schools, plus numerous additions and other school improvements. Snyder put up 5, 10, sometimes 15 buildings a year, ranging from giants like Erasmus, Curtis and Morris high schools to public schools in almost every neighborhood, these new schools symbolized the commitment of the city to care for and even uplift its citizens, many of whom were new immigrants.
Snyder’s schools attracted occasional criticism for ”unnecessary ornamentation” but the city board replied that it was ”worth every cent — in the long run the modest and appropriate adornment of schoolhouses would do much more to raise the level of public taste than any amount of money spent on more sumptuous and conspicuous municipal edifices.” Social reformer Jacob Riis wrote of Snyder “He found barracks, where he is leaving palaces to the people.”
270 of his buildings are still in use, over 20 (and counting) have been designated New York City landmarks.
Throughout my travels around NYC I’ve photographed some of these schools without realizing they were the work of one man.
P.S. 109 in East Harlem ( National Register of Historic Places) has been closed since 1996; community groups saved it from demolition and want it restored as a school, but some local politicians and other interests want it converted into apartments &/or art spaces. It remains empty as neither side has come up with funding.