There is an interesting building on Broadway and 31st Street by the el in Astoria. It appears to be two separate buildings,
but that’s only because the right side has received an “update” and the Ionic pilasters and arched windows, lintels, etc have been stripped away. But that’s not what’s interesting…
This photo from the GAHS archives shows I’m all wet about the trim being stripped off.
The roof treatments on both sides of the building feature…
… caducei, or two snakes entwined around a staff. The symbol is associated with Hermes, the Greek messenger god (the Romans called him Mercurius) and it was generally found on commercial buildings from the 18th and early 19th Centuries. It was also used as a symbol for speed — a caduceus can be found on remaining stations or overpasses of the NY, Westchester and Boston Railroad in the Bronx, much of which is now the Dyre Avenue line (#5 train).
It’s a commonly made mistake equating the caduceus with the medical profession. In medicine the symbol is the Rod of Asclepius, which has one entwined snake, not two.