Tag Archives: 1900

244 W 23 Street

244 W 23 Street

244 W 23 Street shows the versatility of brick, which mimicks rough-cut stone on lower floors and forms fluted pilasters on upper floors. The builder went to the expense (according to Daytonian in Manhattan) to use carved stone instead of terra cotta to ornament the facade. Sadly, subsequent owners splashed red paint over the whole facade – covering some of the stonework and all of the mortar lines.

The building was converted to co-op apartments in 1982, ending a colorful commercial history. In its first 82 years the building was home to a publisher, a filmmaker, an art school, a piano factory and more, according to the Daytonian in Manhattan blog.*

244 W 23 Street Vital Statistics
244 W 23 Street Recommended Reading

* Daytonian in Manhattan – one of my favorite resources – is the work of Tom Miller, assisted by photographer Alice Lum. If you enjoy his blog, you’ll love his book: “Seeking New York.” In it, you’ll find the human stories behind 54 historic Manhattan buildings, mostly seldom-profiled pieces of architecture.

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166 Fifth Avenue

166 Fifth Avenue, a seven-story store and loft building, replaced a mansion in 1899-1900. The storefront (like those of its neighbors) has been modernized.

The building is part of the Ladies Mile Historic District, designated in 1989. At the time, Andrews Coffee Shop occupied the ground floor.

166 Fifth Avenue Vital Statistics
166 Fifth Avenue Recommended Reading

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Herald Square Hotel

Herald Square Hotel, though grossly altered, remains a bright spot on West 31st Street – just across the street and down the block from the larger Hotel Wolcott. It’s also where some fascinating histories intersect.

The building, designed by Carrère & Hastings, was erected as the home of Life magazine in 1900. At the time, Life was the upscale humor magazine that discovered Charles Dana Gibson, the artist behind the famous “Gibson Girls.” Other contributors included Robert “Believe It Or Not!” Ripley and Norman Rockwell. Gibson had a studio in the building, and took over Life magazine after John Mitchell, one of the founders, died in 1918. The magazine went into decline, and was forced to sell the building. Ultimately Henry Luce bought Life for its name.

The building was converted to an apartment hotel in 1937 and has changed hands several times. It was purchased by the Puchall family in 1970, and restored over the years. However, the family made drastic alterations to the top floors in 1995, eliminating the mansard roof.

Herald Square Hotel Vital Statistics
  • Location: 19 W 31st Street, between Fifth Avenue and Broadway
  • Year completed: 1900
  • Architect: Carrère & Hastings
  • Floors: 8
  • Style: Beaux Arts
Herald Square Hotel Suggested Reading

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Broadway Chambers Building

Babe Ruth has a couple of things in common with Cass Gilbert, architect of the Broadway Chambers Building. Both were superstars in their field, and both came to New York via Boston. (But Cass Gilbert came 20 years ahead of the Babe.) *

According to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, St. Paul, Minnesota-based Gilbert became prominent for his 1893 design of the Minnesota State Capitol. That led to an 1896 commission to design a commercial building – the Second Brazer Building – in Boston. Alexander Porter, an investor in that project, was so impressed with Gilbert’s work that he introduced him to Edward Andrews, who happened to be looking for someone to design a new building on Broadway at Chambers Street.

The resulting Broadway Chambers Building, begun in March 1899, was Gilbert’s first project in New York. It was immediately successful – and followed by nine other architectural landmarks by 1936. (Babe Ruth’s career closed in 1935.)

Like other tall buildings of the era, the Broadway Chambers Building was designed like a classical column, with base, shaft, and capital. Gilbert used the then-popular Beaux Arts style of ornamentation, with a twist dictated by Andrews: Color, to make the building stand out among the monochromatic neighbors.

The three-story base is of pink granite; the 11-story shaft is of red and blue brick; and the four-story capital is of beige terra cotta with blue, green, yellow and pink accents, and a green copper cornice. The base and crown are deeply rusticated (the joints between the blocks of granite or terra cotta are deeply incised). The brickwork of the middle floors has bands of raised brick that mimics (in reverse) the rustication.

While the Broadway Chambers Building was Cass Gilbert’s first New York project, his most famous building was erected three blocks south and 13 years later: The Woolworth Building (celebrating its centennial in 1913). Gilbert’s other New York City landmark buildings include: United States Custom House (1907), 90 West Street Building (1907), Rodin Studios (1917), New York Life Insurance Company (1928), 130 W30th Street (1928), Audubon Terrace auditorium and art gallery (1928), New York County Lawyers’ Association (1930), and United States Courthouse (1936 – completed after Gilbert’s death in 1934).

* OK, I know I just gave architects and architectural historians massive heart attacks by coupling a great architect with a mere baseball player. I accept that I am forever banned from the Society of Architectural Historians and the American Institute of Architects. But this is a website aimed at non-professionals.

Broadway Chambers Building Vital Statistics
  • Location: 277 Broadway at Chambers Street
  • Year completed: 1900
  • Architect: Cass Gilbert
  • Floors: 18
  • Style: Beaux Arts
  • New York City Landmark: 1992
Broadway Chambers Building Suggested Reading

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