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#SouthofUnionSquare: Pre-Civil War Buildings

Our research on the area south of Union Square has revealed treasure troves of rich architecture and history connected to the film, the labor movement, and the arts, among many other subject areas. Yet the neighborhood remains without landmarks protections. This is especially vexing given its concentration of buildings from the earliest stages of our city’s development, before the Civil War. While the late 19th and early 20th-century architecture of the area may be splashier and more high profile, the more modest and older architecture, largely concentrated in the easternmost blocks on and just off Third Avenue, contribute immeasurably to South of Union Square’s rich historic character. There are nearly twenty buildings within this proposed district constructed between 1830 and 1863 that survived the rapid development of this area. Here’s a few of them:

98 Third Avenue: 

98 Third Avenue

This rowhouse, on Third Avenue between East 13th and 12th Streets, was constructed in 1835-39 as a single-family house for Caleb Bartlett. Barlett was the founder and operator of the book store and circulating library at 78 Bowery. There he sold an assortment of goods, and printed books. To learn more about this building click here and to learn more about rowhouses like this in the area south of Union Square click here.

92-96, 98, 100, 102, 104 Third Avenue (l. to r.), courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York,1975. Courtesy of NYPL Digital Collections.

58 Third Avenue

58 Third Avenue

This four-story rowhouse was built in 1838-39 for James E. Hills on Third Avenue between East 10th and East 11th Street. It is among the oldest surviving structures in the area built as a house and was the home of one of the largest and most prominent tailoring establishments on Third Avenue in the 19th century. In the 1940s it was home to restaurant and bar open to ladies and gentlemen. To learn more about this building click here and to learn more about commerce in the area south of Union Square click here.

48, 50, 52, 56, 58, 60, 62 Third Avenue and 122 East 13th Street (l. to r.), 1933. Courtesy of NYPL Digital Collections.

15 East 13th St

15 East 13th Street (left)

On East 13th Street between Fifth Avenue and Univerisity Place sits one of those buildings on a New York City street that make you stop and look twice is this two-story brick store, constructed c. 1844 for the prominent Van Buren family, which owned and developed much of the land on or near 14th Street. It was originally the cabinetry shop of William Winberg. In the 19th century, it was used as a manufacturing building for a sign company.

15 East 13th Street, 1940. NYC Municipal Archives.

107-109 East 9th Street

107 East 9th Street

This five-story brick building was constructed in 1853 for Doctor Parker on East 9th Street between Fourth and Third Avenues. For many years this building was the home of the Pageant Book and Print Shop, one of the last of the Book Row sellers. The building, and Pagent Book and Print Shop, was featured in Woody Allen’s film Hannah and Her Sisters in 1985. To learn more about this building click here and to learn more about booksellers in the area south of Union Square click here.

(Far left) 107-109 East 9th Street, 1933. NYPL Digital Collections.

143 East 13th Street

143 East 13th Street

In 1863, David Glass constructed this building with residences above a cast-iron storefront near the corner of Third Avenue on east 13th Street. It was part of a neighborhood known as Kleindeutschland (“Little Germany”) when it was bought by William and George Schade, both of German descent, around the turn of the last century. To learn more about this building click here and to see more cast-iron architecture in the area south of Union Square, click here.

137, 141, 143 East 13th Street (l. to r.) and 106 East Third Avenue, 1940. NYC Municipal Archives.

These buildings were constructed during the first waves of development when New Yorkers and immigrants began to settle further north in the City. A mixture of single-family houses, tenements, and commercial buildings, they have survived waves of development in this area, to explore the architecture of the area south of Union Square click here.

Village Preservation has recently received a series of extraordinary letters from individuals across the world, expressing support for our campaign to landmark a historic district south of Union Square. 

To help landmark these incredible historic structures and other buildings in this area, click here. To read more history of the buildings and area south of Union Square, and our preservation efforts in the area, click here.

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