When did they stop putting dates on buildings?

I was looking at some images of old buildings the other day as part of some research that I’m doing, and noticed that a number of the buildings appeared to have the date inscribed on them as part of the masonry/decorative features of the building.

Typically these buildings have been constructed before WWII- you might see an old two or three storey office building somewhere that has “JOHNSON & CO LTD” emblazoned near the roof along with “1928” (or another year) somewhere nearby (it’s often near the roofline over the main door, from what I’ve seen).

Modern buildings don’t seem to do this as far as I can tell- you don’t generally see a glass skyscraper or trendy modern officeblock with “2007” worked into the glasswork somewhere so people 50 years from now will know when the building was constructed.

So, the question I’ve got is this: When did they stop adding the dates to the “decorations” of buildings, and, for bonus points- why?

I see it all the time as a “cornerstone” piece. When the dining center at my campus built an enclosed foyer, the front wall has a big ole 2007 in it. Seems kinda incongruous to me but I guess in 40 years that 2007 will seem as remote as 1964 is to me. (I doubt it will make it a century, though.)

Another vote for “2007” - that’s the most recent one I’ve seen.

Yep, I see at all the time too for modern buildings. Often where the entire exterior of the building is glass and metal, the date is shown in the lobby on a plaque.

Is it possible that some building codes don’t allow prominent numbers, in case they’re confused with the address?

Exactly this. Maybe the architectural style has changes so exposed foundation stones are no longer in style, so the architect relies on an interior plaque?

Back in the '80’s, I noticed the cornerstone of a building dedicated by … Richard M. Nixon. They had, for some obscure and unknown reason ;), planted a hedge obscuring the message. So you can see, maybe the style has just faded away.

There’s a difference (IMHO) between having the year the building was constructed clearly displayed in large, friendly letters on the facade and having it in tiny print on a bronze plaque in the lobby where no-one will ever read it.

What I’m wondering is why they shifted from the former to the latter, and when.

Who said anything about tiny print? I’ve seen many plaques which are several metres across, with letters ten to twenty centimetres high. They’re very much the same size as (or even larger than) the outer engravings you see on older buildings, except placed indoors.

Not a lot of skyscraper-type buildings HAVE visible stone foundations to stick a cornerstone into. And a lot of new urban buildings are skyscraper/glass-and-steel type buildings.

I believe the OP is referring to the custom of putting dates at the cornice lines of small commercial “blocks” (two to six stories), not skyscrapers. The practice seems to have died out as “modern” design (what we often call Art Deco) became more prominent in the 1920s. For one thing, the façades were often “mail-order” ornamentation ordered from a terra-cotta company catalog. For another, the buildings were often erected by real estate companies rather than proud individuals. And the practice probably just fell out of fashion.

In recent decades, I increasingly see it on new small commercial buildings and even groups of townhouses on Chicago’s North Side. The buildings often take a very deliberate historicist architectural form, and I think it’s an attempt to show pride and identify with the historic fabric of the neighborhood.