Photo: courtesy of klg19
What New Yorker hasn't dreamed of owning a brownstone? In addition to handbags and chauffeurs, the brick-alternative buildings are one of the city's biggest social markers, announcing things like "I've made it" or "I've grown up" or "I'm just like Carrie from Sex and the City." They also are beautiful, full of rich history, and quintessentially New York. Sadly, the Times has reported that New York is completely out of brownstone. Yup, the local quarries in Pennsylvania and Connecticut that have long supplied the Big Apple with the material are tapped out. And while other places around the world produce brownstone, as the Times puts it: there is really nothing quite like the local stuff.
Photo courtesy of zachvs
Back in the 1830s, things were really starting to happen for New York. Manhattanites and Brooklyners were passing up traditional brick buildings in order to construct their homes with a somewhat locally sourced, easy to carve, and aesthetically pleasing new material: brownstone. The popular substance, actually brown sandstone, was found in quarries in Pennsylvania and Connecticut, so it was easy to transport and readily available. The Great Depression and other factors contributed to the closing of the quarries nearly 100 years later, and it wasn't until the mid '90s when parts of them reopened. By that time, "Brownstoners" had developed their snobbery, insisting that only sandstone from Connecticut would make the cut. Fast-forward to the present, and the Connecticut quarry has shut down once again -- maybe for good. In the meantime, we'll just have to wait to see what new magic mineral New Yorkers will adopt in the future.