Pier Mirror: The big and glossy pier mirrors in Victorian Brooklyn
If you’ve scoured Brooklyn real estate listings, are a fan of Brooklyn residential architecture, or live in an old Brooklyn house, you’ve probably heard a lot of times that pier mirrors are mentioned as an original feature to envy.
What exactly is a pier mirror? A pier mirror or pier glass is a large mirror that is designed to fit on the wall between two windows. They were often designed to hang over a pier table – that is, a table supported by a single pier or column. Therefore the name.
Not only did they make a big statement, but they also served a practical purpose by reflecting light into often very dark rooms. Technological advances in the 1830s made mirrors less expensive and the larger size of the mirror more accessible. Fine examples of early 19th century pier mirrors can be seen in the drawing room and dining room of the Merchant’s House Museum in Manhattan.
During pier mirrors in New York interiors in the early 19th century, enlargement meant that they were no longer limited to the space between the room windows and became the focal point of foyers and parlors.
It is these massive mirrors that are most typically associated with Brooklyn homes from the 1860s to 1890s. With so much of Brooklyn being converted from farmland to residential neighborhoods during this time, it’s not surprising that the mirrors are popping up in homes from Bed Stuy to South Midwood.
Highlighting pier mirrors in property ads is not a new invention. Browsing through the Brooklyn Eagle ads from the 1860s to 1890s, you can find numerous examples of pier mirrors used as a selling point. For those looking to purchase a pier mirror to beautify their home, furniture makers and auction houses have also put elegant pier mirrors for sale.
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