Federal and Empire
Beginning in the 1780s, New Yorkers saw new houses outfitted with mantels ornamented with garlands, figurines, urns, and attenuated classical columns.
Mantels tended to be made of wood with a cast-iron firebox, flanked with decorative panels and shelving for displaying bric-a-brac. Some burned gas instead of wood.
These fireplaces, found in apartment buildings constructed during the early 1900s, were sometimes painted a glossy white or a matte “Georgian green.” The chimney facing is typically glazed tile.
The twenties saw a fad for a century-old English-manor-house look: marble fireplace surrounds with sharp-cornered rectilinear details, often with decorative medallions on the mantel and a built-in mirror on top.
Seen in turn-of-the-century Brooklyn houses and twenties apartment buildings like Tudor City, they were built from stone and timber and occasionally feature a pointed arch.
The swingy Franco-American hybrid of the twenties and thirties often incorporated mirrored accents, curved edges, and streamlined zigzags à la the Chrysler Building.