Snyder served as superintendent of school buildings form 1891 to 1922. During his tenure his office designed close to 350 schools, plus numerous additions and other school improvements. Testifying to the quality and longevity of his designs is that as of 2009, thirteen of his buildings and five of his additions have been designated New York City landmarks.
Inventive and pragmatic, Snyder left his mark as an engineer, administrator, and designer. In each of these areas his innovations contributed to a successful school building campaign unparalleled in any other American city. His most widely celebrated advancement was the development of the midblock H-plan, his response to urban density. This configuration allowed him to plan schools for less expensive midblock sites away from busy avenues yet allow ample light, reduce street noise, maximize space, and provide a protected outdoor play area.
Snyder is best known for his application of the Collegiate Gothic style to New York City public schools. In Snyder’s buildings, distinguishing Collegiate Gothic features include Tudor-arched doorways, pointed-arch windows topped with stone tracery, a central square tower, gabled bays, label moldings, and heraldic statues. He also experimented with other styles, best illustrated in the first four high schools to be completed in response to the 1896 School Reform Law mandating that the New York City Board of Education provide free secondary public education. Snyder referenced French Renaissance for Wadleigh High School (renamed Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing & Visual Arts, I.S. 415; 1902); Beaux-Arts for High School of Commerce (now demolished but formerly located at Sixty-fifth Street near Broadway in Manhattan; 1903); Dutch Renaissance for DeWitt Clinton (now John Jay College; 1903); and Collegiate Gothic for Morris High School (renamed Morris Educational Campus; 1904).