1st Street, Park Slope

“As a cherry on top, Castrads was able to paint our units in our chosen Farrow & Ball colors.”

Steam radiators with temperature control in beautiful Farrow & Ball colors.

The Neighborhood

Brownstone building on 1st Street, Park Slope Brooklyn

Spanning the western edge of Prospect Park, or ‘Brooklyn’s backyard’, Park Slope is a community-focused neighborhood with a creative, socially-conscious, small-town vibe.

This 1920 Neo-Grec Brownstone building is just a block from Fifth Avenue, Park Slope’s main drag. A far cry from the dazzling department stores of its Manhattan namesake, this shopping strip fosters independent businesses and a laid-back restaurant scene, celebrating its niche as ‘The Other Fifth Avenue’.

Restored and renewed

When our customers bought their third-floor apartment it still had period elements such as original wood moldings and a decorative tin ceiling, so they were keen to keep as much of this characterful interior as possible. They told us: “The approximately 100-year-old unit retained hints of its old Brooklyn charm, but some features needed to be freshened up.”

As part of their renovation project they laid new wide-plank floors and fitted custom vintage-style pocket shutters to replace the ones that had been removed by previous owners.

The original cast iron radiators installed on their one-pipe steam system were very oversized and threw out far too much heat for their needs. This is an issue we see very often across New York City where apartment buildings tend to have a central, shared boiler in the basement and residents have little or no control over the heating in their individual homes. Moreover, some of their radiators were awkwardly positioned and taking up space unnecessarily.

Following a site visit from one of our team, our customers opted to replace their originals with Castrads Mercury column radiators. They told us: We appreciated the look of the old radiators, but the placement and size of the originals were not ideal.” Repositioning the radiators made better use of the space. As the riser in the bedroom is beside the window, it was an easy switch. Using the same inlet valve means minimal changes to pipework.

Original Corto steam radiator in Park Slope Brooklyn
Before: A large radiator in the bedroom, occupying useful wall space.

Corto by The American Radiator Company

The original radiators were Cortos, cast in Buffalo, New York, by The American Radiator Company. Introduced around 1922, the Corto was one of the first column radiators in the US, taking over in popularity from the ornate and school style radiators of the early 20th century. It was named after French engineer Louis Courtot, who patented earlier designs for thinner, lighter column radiators.

The model was hugely popular, arriving at a time when interiors were becoming less fussy compared with the Victorian taste for high ornamentation. The American Radiator Company played up the French connection in its marketing for the Corto. Chic, Art Deco design, with its bold geometric forms and strong, precise lines, was highly fashionable and the Corto fit right in.

Excerpt from the Corto brochure, 1922.

Mercury by Castrads

Mercury is an ideal alternative given that many of its features are inspired by early column radiators like the Corto. Four years in the making, Mercury was designed in house by our Head of Product Simon Evans. Taking his lead from traditional radiator designs, Simon also worked with Steven Marjieh, a lecturer and consultant in CAD modelling, with particular expertise in automotive surface design and metallurgy. Mercury’s sleek curves and crisp lines are testament to Simon’s approach, placing modern surface engineering know-how and brand new casting techniques at the centre of his design. Exclusive to Castrads, Mercury is an incredibly fine-tuned product and the first cast iron radiator to be designed in Britain for nearly a century. Available in a huge array of sizes, this is our most versatile range.

Temperature controls for steam heat

Asked why they came to us, our customers said: “We chose Castrads because of its reputation and design options. We also liked the thermostat control.”

Adding Niva One-Pipe Steam TRVs to all of their radiators provides automatic temperature control in each room. The radiator valve is no longer just on or off, but is instead set with a 1-5 point temperature scale. A thermostatic sensor inside the valve shuts off the radiator when the room reaches the desired temperature and opens it again when the room cools.

original steam radiator in park slope, brooklyn
Before: The bathroom radiator had been sprayed in a silver paint in an effort to reduce its heat output.
bespoke steam radiator with automatic temperature controls in Park Slope Brooklyn
After: Now fitted with Niva One-Pipe Steam TRVs, the bathroom radiator is self-regulating. Niva valves have a clear 1-5 temperature scale. (Mercury 3 Column 34″ in Farrow & Ball Salt)

With lower output radiators and thermostatic controls the steam system now maintains a far more comfortable, ambient heat, which can be easily adjusted when necessary.

Steam radiator in Brooklyn brownstone apartment

The large original radiator was restricting the movement of the internal doors. Replacing it with a smaller Mercury allowed our customers to reposition the radiator to fit neatly between the riser and the window. (Above: Mercury 6 Column 38in in Farrow & Ball Stone Blue)

Bespoke finishes

“As a cherry on top, Castrads was able to paint our units in our chosen Farrow & Ball colors.” Attuned to the history of the property, our customers had a clear concept for their color scheme which they selected from British supplier Farrow & Ball.

Our cast iron radiators are custom made and finished. In addition to our Signature Collection and Bare Metal finishes, you can choose any color from the ranges at Farrow & Ball, Benjamin Moore or Little Greene.

If you would like some guidance on sizing, positioning or finishing your cast iron radiators, we offer in-person and virtual consultations across most of the NYC metro area.

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