38 Warren Street and other loft buildings in 1894 (lamp + “gas trimmings” importers & more)


The Google is my (distracting) friend
I played around on Google when I was looking at the listing history of 38 Warren Street (for the February 19, was the terrace free at 38 Warren Street?) and found some interesting history history for that building, and for others since converted to residential lofts. "Interesting" to Manhattan Loft Guy, at least, so if you may be of a similar mind, read on, as we dive deep in the NY Times archives, almost to the birth of the OchsSulzberger era Times.

The Paper of Record was not yet an old grey lady when it ran this piece on August 31, 1984, Marked Revival of Trade. Apparently, the merchant class in Manhattan was then feeling relieved, with the country coming out of a depression, "the tariff question" having been settled, and out of town buyers flooding Manhattan wholesalers and hotels.

In all branches of trade merchants realize that the period of depression has passed, and they look forward to continued activity and profit for some time to come.

Buyers from out of town have come into the city within the last few days by the thousands and there is activity in all the wholesale districts.

Those "wholesale districts" in 1894 include

Broadway, Leonard, Worth, White and Franklin Streets [which] exhibit signs of the effects of the influx of dry goods merchants…. Buyers from all over the country have come here over the past few days by the thousand. They have crowded the hotels where they usually stay while here to such an extent that all available room is exhausted and the proprietors have had to resort to cots placed in reading rooms and out of the way places….

38 and 42 Warren Street, now in 38-44 Warren Street
Here’s the connection to 38 Warren Street:

At the office of McFadden & Co., importers and dealers in lamps and gas trimmings at 38 Warren Street, A.N. White of the firm said

"We have had many buyers in, and our business is good and increasing. We also have good reports from our men on the road. … Our collections are easier, which indicates to us a more plentiful use of money by the customers of our customers and a more general consumption of goods…."

Since that condo was formed by the combination of four buildings and is referred to as 38-44 Warren Street, these guys were also on site:

At the office of L. Strauss & Son, dealers in china and glassware, at 42 to 46 Warren Street and 116 Chambers Street, Lee Kohns, a member of the firm was seen. He was in a most happy frame of mind over the business outlook…. 

  "That the good effects of the settlement of the tariff question are making themselves felt must be apparent to every merchant…. We are so busy now we are working our men day and night. … In anticipation of tariff changes, all goods sold in the Spring for Fall delivery were locked up in bonded warehouses, pending settlement of the question, in order that purchasers might reap the benefits of the reduced rates of duty. These wares can now be shipped…."

another MLG appearance by 1200 Broadway
This August 31, 1894 article also quotes a good many hotels who benefited from the commercial horde. One is a residential loft building hit too frequently on Manhattan Loft Guy to cite:

At the Gilsey House it was said: "There has been a large increase of travel this week. Business men, men whom we know to be regular buyers, are flocking in. There has been no question that there has been an improvement in conditions since the tariff question was settled."

One recent Gilsey House (1200 Broadway) link to a recent NY Times article will add a little to my Gilsey House trove, but I will not further digress from 1894 to quote that article.

In trying to get back to that August 31, 1894 article, I re-ran a search in the times archives and got an article from a week later along the same lines, with a series of quotes from merchants at addresses that indicate how much business was done in the current loft districts, TRADE GATHERING MOMENTUM; IMPROVEMENT IN BUSINESS KEEPING UP VIGOROUSLY.

some 1894 lofts are now offices (darn)
This September 6, 1894 article references many businesses on current residential loft streets, but many of these addresses now have offices or rental buildings, rather than loft coops or condos. Interesting to see, nonetheless, the publisher at 766 Broadway (Charles T. Dillingham & Co.), the bicycle manufacturer at 12 Warren Street, the furniture dealer T 193 Park Row, the "cloaks and suits" company at Fifth Avenue at 22nd Street, and the "collars and cuffs" company at 33 East 17 Street.

So much for tripping down memory lane, for today at least.


© Sandy Mattingly 2010


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