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E.V.Haughwout Building Landmark


John P. Gaynor, with iron work by Badger Iron Works


488-492 Broadway 




Renaissance Revival


Cast Iron Facade






Venice on Broadway in buff? Not to you and me, but to the architect, the chinaware dealer Haughwout and the shopping public, this was Ruskin's Venice. This emporium devoted to tableware included probably the first commercial Otis elevator, which has since been removed. The store has two cast-iron facades as it is a corner building. It usherd in the city's first fashionable housewares district around Broome Street.

The Haughwout Building was built in 1857, designed by architect John Gaynor who was inspired by the San Sorvino Library located on the Piazetta in Venice. The cast iron was forged at Daniel Badger's famous foundry, Architectural Ironworks, located along the East River. Its entire facade is comprised of 92 keystone arches crowned by an entablature comprised of several bands of intricate friezes. The facade was handsomely renovated at great expense several years ago. The building featured the world's first passenger elevator, powered hydraulically, designed and installed by Elijah Armstrong Otis.

The Haughwout Emporium was world famous in its day as manufacturers and purveyors of cut glass, porcelains, mirrors , chandeliers and more. Their clients included the Lincoln's, who purchased a service for the White House, the Czar of Russia, the Imam of Muscat who purchased chandeliers to illuminate the royal harem. Gifts from Haughwout's were presented to the Emperor of Japan and King Rama IV of Siam in the age of gunboat diplomacy.

When Daniel D. Badger, the noted foundryman, published his famous catalog in 1865, he was so proud of the Haughwout building, that he placed a drawing of it at the front of his catalog. This monumental building at 490 Broadway, northeast corner of Broome Street, brought him national attention.
The owner of the 5–story cast iron building, Eder V. Haughwout, opened his new retail store on March 23, 1857, with much fanfare. Elisha Otis’ first practical passenger elevator was installed the same year. Haughwout’s store occupied three floors and displayed ornate home furnishings, glassware, sterling silver, gas chandeliers, and mirrors. On the fourth and fifth floors, his factory employed a staff of women who turned out hand painted china, and craftsmen who worked at glasscutting and silver plating. In 1861 Mary Todd Lincoln visited the elegant Haughwout store to select custom–made china for the White House. The plates had a pattern depicting an American Eagle surrounded by a wide mauve border.
The Haughwout building stands on land that was initially bought by John Jacob Astor in 1802. When he died in 1848, he conveyed the corner piece to one of his daughter Dorothea’s sons, Walter Langdon, Jr. Langdon and his real estate advisor, Abner Ely, knew that this section of Broadway would soon be an important commercial area, and decided to build a significant building. They chose architect John P. Gaynor to design this cast iron Italianate palazzo, which had 92 windows, so as to benefit from the sunny southwestern exposure. An article in the Cosmopolitan Art Journal in 1859 praised the building’s original “Turkish drab” color.
We are fortunate that this remarkable building exists today, because if Robert Moses had had his way in the 1960s, it would have been demolished for the proposed Lower Manhattan Expressway.
In 1994, its owners undertook its rehabilitation and repainted it a warm beige. Today the building’s ground floor is occupied by Staples, an office supply store.