New York Songlines: Park Row

including Chatham Square

Bowery/East Broadway (Chatham Square) | Doyers/Catherine | Mott/Oliver | Worth/St James | Pearl (One Police Plaza) | Centre (City Hall Park) | Frankfort (Printing House Square) | Spruce (Pace University) | Beekman (J & R) | Barclay | Broadway/Ann | Vesey (St Paul's)
Chatham Square is named for William Pitt, first Earl of Chatham, a British prime minister who opposed the Stamp Act and generally stuck up for the colonies; Pitt Street is also named for him. Park Row was previously known as Chatham Street, but was renamed in 1886 for City Hall Park.

Confucius Plaza Apartments

Confucius Plaza, Spring by occam, on Flickr

This arcing, 44-story highrise was built in 1976 to provide Chinatown with much needed housing. Discrimination in construction hiring here sparked the formation of Asian Americans for Equality. DSC05261.JPG by Ryan Dinkgrave, on Flickr

The complex also includes P.S. 124, Yung Wing Public School, named for the first Chinese graduate of an American university (Yale, class of 1854) and the organizer of the Chinese Educational Mission to bring students from China to study in the U.S.

Confucius Statue

This 15-foot statue depicting the founder of the Chinese ethical system, by sculptor Liu Shih, was put up in 1976 by the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, which until recently was sort of a private-sector local government for Chinatown. There was some controversy about honoring someone seen as a conservative cultural figure.

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Point (2 Bowery):



Point (1 Division):

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13 (corner): Lai Hing Jewelry

12: Wine Wo/Lucky Fu Center

9: Chatham Restaurant

7-8: An Off-Track Betting outlet is in this eight-story building.

6: Chatham Square Restaurant

5: In 1899, barber Samuel F. O'Reilly adapted Thomas Edison's electric engraving pen into a mechanical tattoo needle and opened the nation's first tattoo parlor here. Now at this address is the Chinatown Medical Imaging Center.

1 (corner): Reflection by Geff Rossi, on Flickr
Wing Ming Buil- ding, a mirror- sur- faced 11- story office tower, built in 1977 by a Hong Kong businessman. AKA 2 Mott Street.

Moses Baker, the father of the policy business--private lotteries that were the most popular form of gambling in the Five Points neighborhood--based his operations at this address.

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Block (1 Mott): A four-story building that occupies the pointy end of an irregular four-sided block.




Chatham Square by Bęte ŕ Bon-Dieu, on Flickr

17 (block): A pagoda-like building that is also known as 2 Catherine Street.


Kimlau Square

NYC - Chinatown: Kimlau Square - Kimlau War Memorial by NYC - Chinatown: Kimlau Square - Kimlau War Memorial, on Flickr

Corner: An island in Chatham Square named for Benjamin Ralph Kimlau, a Chinese-American lieutenant in the Army Air Force who died on a bombing mission near New Guinea in World War II; he's the namesake of Chinatown's American Legion post, the largest in New York City.

The square has a memorial arch for Chinese-Americans who "lost their lives in defense of freedom and democracy," NYC - Chinatown: Kimlau Square - Lin Ze Xu statue by wallyg, on Flickr as well as a statue of Lin Ze Xu, a Chinese official who tried to suppress the opium trade, leading to conflict with Britain's East India Company and the Opium War.

23 (corner): Across the square is the Asia Bank.

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Chatham Towers

Chatham Towers by jpchan, on Flickr

180 (corner): A 1964 co-op designed by Kelly & Gruzen for the Association for Middle Income Housing, these 25-floor poured-concrete apartment buildings with a striking serrated profile have been hailed (and condemned) as striking examples of the Brutalist school of architecture.

170: The address of the other Chatham Tower.

Corner (500 Pearl): The U.S. Courthouse Annex was built in 1995 and designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox with an interesting concave/convex shape.




Chatham Green Houses

Chatham Green by stan, on Flickr

185 (block): A 21-story public housing building put up in 1960 with an unusual serpentine form. Designed by Kelly & Gruzen, who also did Chatham Towers; Gruzen did One Police Plaza down the street.

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On July 16, 1854, a black schoolteacher, Lizzie Jennings, boarded a whites-only carriage at this intersection and was removed by police. When she sued the transit company, represented by future president Chester A. Arthur, the judge ruled that "colored persons, if sober, well-behaved and free from disease, have the same rights as others," and awarded her $247.50. By 1860, New York's public transportation was completely desegregated.


128 (block): Metropolitan Correctional Center, a 1974 building by Gruzen & Partners that provides holding cells for the U.S. Courthouse.

The Hip Sing tong had a gambling den at this address in 1906.

122: A connecting building.

100 (corner): Another branch of the Metropolitan Correctional Center.

Municipal Building

Park Row building by kevin813, on Flickr

New York City launched an architectural competition in 1907 to build an administrative center for the newly consolidated five buroughs. The winning design, by McKim, Mead & White, mixed Imperial Roman and Renaissance motifs; it was the firm's first skyscraper.

NYC - Civic Center - Municipal Building by wallyg, on Flickr

The distinctive tower rising above the building's U-shaped base is topped by Adolph Weinman's 20-foot-tall copper-clad statue of Civic Fame--the largest statue in New York after Liberty. Allegorical friezes representing Civic Duty and Civic Pride adorn the western facade. Stalin was a fan of the building and had Moscow University's main building patterned after it. Park Row building by kevin813, on Flickr

With a million square foot of space, the building houses most of the Mayor's Office, as well as those of the Manhattan Borough President, the Public Advocate, the Comptroller and the Landmarks Preservation Commission. It's where minimalists and couples in a hurry go to get married--14,000 times a year. It's also the home of WNYC, New York's public radio station since 1922--now broadcast from the tower.

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City Hall Park

Tweed Courthouse and City Hall by Vidiot, on Flickr

This was originally set aside in 1686 by the Dutch colonial government as The Commons, a pasture adjacent to the Collect Pond where townsfolk could take their livestock to eat and drink. It soon became the city's main park, serving as a gathering place for celebrations--and protests. NYC - Civic Center: Nathan Hale City Hall Park - Liberty Flag Pole marker by wallyg, on Flickr

On August 11, 1766, New Yorkers angry that their Liberty Pole protest in the park had been taken down, threw bricks at British soldiers here, who retaliated with bayonets--resulting in the first (non-fatal) bloodshed of the Revolutionary era. General George Washington had the Declaration of Independence read here on July 9, 1776. In 1826, African-Americans rioted here against slave-catchers pursuing escapees from the South. Another riot here in 1837 opposed the raising of the price of flour from $6 to $15 a barrel. During the Draft Riots of 1863, rioters attacked blacks here.

When Albany in 1857 replaced the corrupt Municipal Police with a new organization known as the Metropolitan Police, the two forces clashed here in a melee that left one officer permanently crippled. Closer to the present, police rioted here in September 1992 against Mayor David Dinkins' Civilian Complaint Review Board proposals.

When author Jack London was homeless for a time, he spent his nights in City Hall Park-- a time that inspired his novel The People of the Abyss.

Tweed Courthouse

Historic New York County 'Tweed' Courthouse by joseph a, on Flickr

52 Chambers: Built between 1861 and 1871, this former Criminal Courts Building was supposed to cost $250,000; it ended up costing as much as $14 million, with much of the difference being pocketed by William ''Boss'' Tweed and his Tammany Hall cronies. This graft, excessive even for those days, helped land Tweed in jail, but it is a remarkably beautiful building.

This site was earlier the New York Institution, the city's almshouse; the residents were transferred to Bellevue in 1816, after which the building served to house the New-York Historical Society, the Society Library, the American Academy of Fine Arts and the Bank for Savings.

City Hall

New York City Hall (1803-1812) by chrisinphilly5448, on Flickr

This has been called the city's ''greatest architectural treasure''--I wouldn't go that far, but it is pretty nice. Built in 1811 to a design by John McComb and Joseph Mangin, it was originally faced with marble on three sides and brownstone on the north--because nobody important lived north of City Hall in those days. By 1954, the marble was decaying, and the entire building was refaced with limestone. City Hall Park, Manhattan, New York, 14 Feb. 2008 by PhillipC, on Flickr

Abraham Lincoln lay in state in City Hall's rotunda on April 24-25, 1865. Other prominent citizens who have received the same honor include President Grant and editor Horace Greeley.

Horace Greeley Statue

Horace Greeley Statue by Alan Cordova, on Flickr Though Horace Greeley, the founder of the New York Tribune, is chiefly remembered as the guy who said "Go west, young man" (which was not actually his line), Greeley was actually one of the most influential journalists in American history.

Horace Greeley by -John--, on Flickr

An advocate of social reform (Karl Marx was a European correspodent), Greeley supported abolition, worker's rights and (yes) Western settlement. As a reporter covering Congress in 1855, he was given a concussion by the cane of pro-slavery House Speaker Albert Rust. He helped found the Republican Party and was instrumental in making Abraham Lincoln the 1860 candidate. Surprisingly, he was the 1872 Democratic candidate for president; he was trounced by U.S. Grant and died a month later.

The statue, by John Quincy Adams Ward, was cast in 1890 and was placed across Park Row in front of the Tribune Building until it was moved here in 1916. Its base is by Richard Morris Hunt.

Fountain by capnsponge, on Flickr

When the Croton Reservoir finally brought a safe and reliable water supply to New York City in 1842, a fountain fed by the reservoir was opened here to mark the accomplishment. This particular fountain was designed by Jacob Wrey Mould in 1871, and originally stood in front of the Mullet Post Office (see below). When efforts to tear down that building were underway, the fountain was shipped to the Bronx's Crotona Park in 1920. As part of his efforts to beautify City Hall Park, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani had the fountain brought back, replacing a Delacorte Fountain that had been installed in the 1970s. It's fitting that one of Giuliani's few genuine accomplishments was making the park that surrounded his office look really nice.

The southern end of City Hall Park used to be occupied by the Mullett Post Office--named for architect Alfred Mullett. The 1878 Second Empire building was considered an eyesore and demolished in 1939; it looks a lot better to modern eyes, gracing the cover of one popular New York architectural guide.

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A pano of the clock on our one snowy day. by p0psharlow, on Flickr

Millennium Park is a nicely landscaped traffic island.




One Police Plaza

One Police Plaza by steuben, on Flickr The headquarters of the NYPD, which moved here in 1973 to replace the old Police Building on Centre Street. Designed by Gruzen and Partners in a Brutalist style.

Near the southeast corner of the building is a memorial to Revolutionary War POWs that incorporates a window from the Rhinelander Sugar House, built in 1763 and demolished in 1892. Because of their thick walls and small windows, sugar warehouses were used by the British to hold prisoners--with deadly results--though the Rhinelander building's use for this purpose is actually disputed.

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge by trevińo, on Flickr

Construction on the bridge began in 1870; when completed in 1883, it was half again as long as any other suspension bridge in the world. At least 16 people died in its construction, including its architect, John Augustus Roebling, who contracted tetanus after his foot was crushed by a ferry. His son Washington Roebling, who inherited the project, was stricken by compression sickness while working in cassions, leaving Washington's wife Elizabeth Warren Roebling to become the de facto chief engineer. nightlights by mudpig, on Flickr

Soon after it was opened, on Memorial Day 1883, a panic on the bridge resulted in a dozen people being trampled to death.

Con artists actually have succeeded in repeatedly selling the Brooklyn Bridge to gullible victims.

53-63 (corner): This was the location of the New York World Building, also known as the Pulitzer Building, designed by George B. Post and built by Joseph Pulitzer in 1890 to house his flagship newspaper. Pulitzer's office was in the distinctive rooftop dome, which at 309 feet was the first structure to surpass the height of Trinity Church's steeple. Demolished in 1955 to expand the Brooklyn Bridge approach.


Printing House Square

This open space, separated by a traffic-free Nassau Street from Pace University Plaza, commemorates the era when New York's many daily newspapers were based on what was known as Newspaper Row--conveniently close to both City Hall and the financial district in the days before telephones or rapid transit.

Benjamin Franklin statue

Benjamin Franklin by b2tse, on Flickr

This sculpture of Benjamin Franklin, by Ernst Plassman, commemorates his role as publisher; he holds a copy of his Pennsylvania Gazette. The statue was dedicated in 1872 in a ceremony involving Samuel Morse and Horace Greeley.

Near this spot on May 16, 1691, Jacob Leisler was executed for treason. Leisler, chief of the city's militia, took over the colony in 1689, ostensibly because Gov. Francis Nicholson hadn't recognized the replacement of King James II by King William and Queen Mary. Leisler, however, refused to step down when William and Mary sent their own replacement governor, a political dispute that turned into a low-level civil war and ended in a treason conviction. He and his son-in-law Jacob Milbourne were sentenced to be hanged, disemboweled, burnt alive, beheaded and quartered. Hester Street is named for his daughter.

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Old New York Times Building

Park Row buildings by kevin813, on Flickr

41 (corner): The building that houses the Pace University Bookstore (along with other Pace offices and classrooms) was built in 1857 as the headquarters of the New York Times (founded in 1851). Designed by George B. Post (the Stock Exchange's architect), its round arches, recessed windows and rusticated stone place it in the Romanesque Revival. The Times moved from here to what is now Times Square in 1905, and Pace bought the building in 1952.

Earlier this was the site of the Brick Presbyterian Church, from 1766 until 1856. It was used by the British as a prison and a hospital during the American Revolution. In 1832 Baker & Scribner Publishers also had their offices on this lot; in 1810 it was the site of the White Lecture Room. The Kine Pox Institute was found here in 1802, as was the volunteer firefighting unit Engine Co. No. 4. In 1686, the home of Gov. Thomas Dongan, whose charter for New York issued that year remains the basis for the city's government. In 1646, this was the home of Cornelius Van Tienhoven, a New Amsterdam official noted for his accounting expertise and his involvement in atrocities against the Indians.

Potter Building

USA NYC C6243a by YoungRobV, on Flickr

38 (corner): A gorgeous red brick building built 1883-86 with fantastic terra cotta detail. Built by Orlando B. Potter to replace an earlier building he owned that burned down in 1881 (an event featured in the novel Time After Time), he used terra cotta in part for its fireproof qualities.

Potter's earlier building, completed in 1857, was known as the World Building, after the New York World which was based there. (This was before Joseph Pulitzer bought the paper.) park row building by bondidwhat, on Flickr It also housed the offices of Scientific American, where on December 7, 1877, Thomas Edison gave the first public demonstration of his phonograph. N.G. Starkweather extensively used terra cotta detail, helping to popularize the material for office buildings; Potter later launched the New York Press.

On the ground floor is Bondy's CDs & Tapes.

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J & R

34 (corner): A collection of electronics stores that takes up most of this block, J & R has a reputation as the place to go in New York for the best prices. J and R are Joe and Rachelle Friedman, a married couple who started the company in 1971 with money they got as wedding presents. This address houses the company's camera store.

33: J & R international music. This was the first storefront for J & R when it opened in 1971, originally specializing in audio equipment and then branching out into phonograph records. The name "Thompson's" is carved on the building, as this was once a Thompson's cafeteria here; the Chicago-based brand is considered the first large, urban restaurant chain.

31: J & R audio/video. This building used to be the City Hall Theatre from c. 1919-39.

29: Weinstein & Holtzman Hardware, est. 1920, boasts of helping to build everything from the Waldorf-Astoria to Yankee Stadium.

27: J & R appliances

25: This was the address of the Daily News, one of the few survivors of Newspaper Row. Park Row by stobor, on Flickr

23: J & R music--pop and jazz. The former address of the Mail and Express, created when Cyrus Field merged the Evening Mail and Evening Express.

21: The address of the New York Recorder.

20: The address of the Morning Advertiser.

19: J & R returns dept.

17: J & R personal care

Park Row Building

15: At 30 stories and 391 feet, this was the tallest building in the world from 1899, when it was built by a syndicate headed by August Belmont, until 1908, when it was eclipsed by the now-demolished Singer Building. Park Row Building by stobor, on Flickr The design, by R.H. Robertson, was scorned by contemporary critics; it's notable for the twin cupolas on its roofline and the four heroic caryatids above the entrance. The building housed Belmont's Interborough Rapid Transit Company as well as the first offices of the Associated Press, incorporated in 1900. J&R Electronics by philmaxwell, on Flickr

1 (corner): J & R Computer World is perhaps the best-known branch of the store; much of the Songlines were written on a J & R computer. The name evokes the brilliant Kraftwerk album.

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Block: This block used to be spanned by the Park Hotel--better known as the Astor House Hotel-- an ultra-fashionable hotel built in 1834 by John Jacob Astor. (Astor had previously lived on the site, in the house of Rufus King, one of New York's two original senators.) See the Broadway page for more details. The hotel was torn down in 1914. Case Study - 217 Broadway by peterwalshprojects, on Flickr

217 (corner): Was the Franklin Society for Home Building and Savings, a savings & loan.


P1020125.JPG by JayeClaire, on Flickr

Block (222 Broadway):

This building served as the offices of Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen in the movie Wall Street. See the Broadway page for more details about the location, which has been the site of the farm of New York's first prostitute, New York's first pleasure garden, P.T. Barnum's American Museum, the New York Herald Building and New York's ugliest skyscraper.

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St. Paul's Chapel

NYC - St. Paul's Chapel by wallyg, on Flickr

Depending on whether you count the starting date (1764) or the date of completion (1766), this may be the oldest building in Manhattan. (The Morris-Jumel Mansion in Harlem was built in 1765.) It was and is a satellite of Trinity Church; it survived the 1776 fire that destroyed the first Trinity because its flat roof allowed rescuers to stand atop it and put out falling embers. The tower was not added until 1796. St. Paul's Chapel by jwowens, on Flickr

This was the church George Washington attended when New York was the new nation's capital; his pew here is marked, as is that of New York Gov. George Clinton. Other notables who worshipped here are King William IV (as a prince), Lord Cornwallis, the Marquis de Lafayette, and presidents Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison and the elder George Bush. The church served as a sanctuary for rescue workers after the September 11 attacks.

What's missing on Park Row? Write to Jim Naureckas and tell him about it.

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