NYC: Garment District Whimsey
Most people, New Yorkers and visitors alike, view the Garment District as dull and gray, grim even.
And that's certainly the way I saw it, from my mid-teens, upon my first visit to the loft where my Great-Uncle Moniek worked in his brother's business, until a few years ago.
But then I realized that architecturally, at least, the Garment District can be interesting and even whimsical. Keep a sharp lookout upward as you walk through the District and you'll find trolls, grotesques, and mascarons. You'll also find a variety of old-fashioned craftsmanship, from intricate bricklaying to marble, granite, and terra-cotta sculpture.
The characters here are just below the cornice at of the third floor of 49 W. 38th Street. The frieze across to top of the fourth floor is even more elaborate, with alternating figures of animals and plants, intricately carved pilasters, and a pair of mustachioed and bearded mascarons. The upper floors are faced in brick and show off patterns made by master bricklayers.
What you probably won't see are gargoyles. The word, gargoyle, derives from the French gargouille, or throat, from which the verb, to gargle, also originates. So a gargoyle spouts water, whereas a grotesque does not. Grotesques are also called chimera.
The origins of grotesques was to scare away evil spirits, which the Garment District probably does have to some degree, but you'll also find plenty of friendly spirits there. Do visit and enjoy treasure-hunting the many fine architectural details there.