Art Deco at Its Finest

Syracuse, New York, boasts one of the best examples of the popular architecture design of the 1920’s and 30’s called Art Deco in the world.  The building is registered by the U.S. National Register of Historic Places as the Niagara Hudson Building.  To the locals, it is known as the Ni-Mo building and was the home to the largest electric company at the time the building was built back in 1932 called the Niagara Mohawk Power Utility Company. If you are thinking the Niagara part refers to the Niagara Falls, you are correct. I paid Ni-Mo for my home’s power consumption for years until National Grid took them over a few years back.

The Niagara Mohawk building in Syracuse, New York with its color lighting display.

The Niagara Mohawk building in Syracuse, New York with its color lighting display. Nikon D700/28-300VR, 5s, f/22, ISO 200, EV 0, 38mm focal length, tripod.

At night the building is illuminated with powerful and colorful flood lighting.  The colors change throughout the year to coincide with seasons, holidays and special events. These colors are enhanced by the exterior of the building which is made up of stainless steel, aluminum, and black glass.

Looking up the front of the Niagara Mohawk building in Syracuse, New York.

Looking up the front of the Niagara Mohawk building in Syracuse, New York. Nikon D700/28-300VR, 25s, f/22, ISO 200, EV 0, 28mm focal length, tripod.

At the base of the tower is a 28-foot statue of a male figure with outstretched arms from which rays of light emanate called the Spirit of Light.  An appropriate nod to the Age of Electricity and a time we owe all of today’s simple luxuries like indoor lighting, electric appliances and digital gadgets.

The Spirit of LIght statue looks out from the base of the Niagara Mohawk building's tower.

The Spirit of LIght statue looks out from the base of the Niagara Mohawk building's tower. Nikon D700/28-300VR, 30s, f/22, ISO 200, EV 0, 190mm focal length, tripod.

The colors you see here are what I saw and due to the types of lighting on the building, street lights and nearby buildings.  People who live here know the Ni-Mo building looks a lot different in daylight.  Something I need to show you in the future.

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22 Responses to Art Deco at Its Finest

  1. Kiwidutch says:

    If you love Dec then one day you will *have* to visit the town of Napier, in New Zealand. It was leveled by an earthquake in the early 1930’s and all rebuilt in the art deco style.
    Deco went out of style shortly afterwards but since all of these buildings were brand new, no one wanted to change them to keep up with the fashion. so they all remain.
    It’s a tourist attraction in it’s own right and many of the buildings would keep your camera busy for days!
    I was last there as a kid and since we usually have limited time in NZ and friends and relatives in other places, I haven’t made it back there… but one day, one day …

    Like

  2. flandrumhill says:

    Lighting is (almost) everything isn’t it? These buildings probably look quite heavy and far less uplifting at midday.

    The Spirit of Light statue looks so robotic and cold, despite its warm, golden glow.

    Like

  3. Scott says:

    I always enjoy coming to your site and seeing the sites of my old graduate school stomping grounds. The Niagara Mohawk Building stirs memories. I always thought it was a bold building and so unique. And the Spirit of Light statute? Well, he always reminded me of Gigantor.

    Would love to see a shot of the building in HDR.

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    • Gigantor! Ha! It does.

      Glad I can bring a little Syracuse life to you. If you ever need a photo from this area, let me know.

      I have not gotten much success at night time HDR. I’ll keep it in mind for a late day image though.

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  4. Karma says:

    You have some pretty amazing colors here, Scott. Are these SOOC or did you have to do some editing?

    Like

  5. montucky says:

    The building does make a very pretty and colorful nighttime display! Nice photography!

    Like

  6. Interesting looking building! With all the lights, it seems that it may look more impressive at night than it does during the day? Love the last one!

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  7. Gerry says:

    Nice series, especially the Spirit of Light. That had to be a challenge. The building reminds me of the Art Deco movie palaces in Detroit. I thought, too, of the Michigan Consolidated Gas Co. headquarters–don’t think it’s that anymore, and it’s not Art Deco anyway, but it used to have a reflecting pool with gas jets that flamed dramatically all night. During the energy crunch of the 70s MichCon turned of the jets and made a grassy berm of the pool, but in its day it was quite an advertisement for natural gas, as this is for electricity. Then there’s the Pittsburgh Plate Glass building, too. Y’know, you could do a whole series of buildings that represent the industries they house–daytime, nighttime, seasonally. Oh, Scott, one day you must take your camera to the Rouge Plant. I digress.

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    • Sounds like I will need you to give me a list of places to photograph when I visit Michigan next time. 🙂 I was near the Dearborn Ford Mustang plant when I visited the Ford Museum but it was closed at that time for summer refit.

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  8. Krystal says:

    I always loved when we got to drive by this building when I was a kid – it was so different from everything else around it, I thought it had to be something cooler than an office building – I never quite believed Mom when she’d tell me that!

    Like

  9. truels says:

    I love art deco buildings, and I will look foreward to those daylight photos of this beautiful building. And funny enough: I fell in love with art deco for the first time in 1995/6 in New Zealand – guess where: Napier!!! Kiwidutch is completely right: You must visit Napier….

    Like

  10. Nye says:

    I absolutely love the first shot, the vibrant colors and deep dark blue sky. Only if I live in the city, we lack building around here.

    Like

  11. Pingback: Art Deco Christmas | Views Infinitum

  12. Nicole says:

    I work in this building (for the last 21 yrs) and I have to say the things we take for granted. It is such a beautiful building, and the pics I’ve looked at (taken by you and several others) has made me more aware of architectural details I’ve never noticed before. Thank you for reminding me how lucky I am to go to work in such a great building every day.

    Like

    • Thank you, Nicole. By any chance could you get them to fix the lighted sign on the eastern door entrance as seen in the first photo above (probably not used anymore). Mohawk is lighted but Niagara is not. Been like that for a few years now.

      Like

  13. Truels says:

    A beautiful Art Deco building, and I love the idea of illuminating at night. I was in Napier in NZ in 1995 – and I also found, that this place is the very best to view Art Deco architecture.

    Like

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