Public School 290

305-311 East 82nd Street
C. B. J. Snyder

When P.S. 290 (originally P.S. 190) opened, it had the capacity to serve 1,600 students. Architect C. B. J. Snyder was Superintendent of School Buildings from 1891 to 1923 and was instrumental in modernizing the city’s school buildings through new technologies, such as passive venting, and the implementation of standards for fireproofing and safety, as well as classroom, corridor and stair design. P.S. 290 was part of a citywide school construction campaign to address the city’s critical shortage of school facilities. By the turn of the 20th century, both rising immigration rates and the Compulsory Education Law of 1894, which mandated school attendance until the age of 14, meant that overburdened public schools were literally turning children away at the door. During his long tenure, Snyder oversaw the construction of around 200 new school buildings and countless renovations to existing schools. Not only was he concerned with the functionality of the buildings and the comfort of the students, Snyder clearly thought of public schools as important contributions to civic architecture. P.S. 290 is designed in a robust Beaux-Arts style, using a bold palette of rusticated red and buff brick and chunky limestone ornament, like the lion’s head at the main entrance. Today, the building is home to the Manhattan New School, a magnet school specializing in literacy instruction. Note the separate ‘Boys’ and ‘Girls’ entrances that can still be seen at either end of the building.