488 Broadway

1856, John P. Gaynor, architect

the oldest and most famous cast iron building in the district

The Haughwout Store is the oldest and the most famous cast iron building in the Historic District, built as a department store in 1856 for E. V. Haughwout, an importer of silver and glass and a manufacturer of fine chandeliers and hand-painted china. Mary Todd Lincoln visited the store on May 16, 1861, and purchased a complete set of Haughwout’s china for the White House.

The store’s design is similar to Sansovino’s Library of St. Mark in Venice. Originally painted a sandy, putty color which the Victorians called “Turkish drab,” it must have looked indeed like a fine Venetian stone building.

The elaborate window design is repeated ninety-two times along Broadway and Broome Street. A keystone arch rests on free-standing colonnettes flanked on either side by tall, fluted Corinthian columns standing on paneled bases. Cast by Badger’s Architectural Iron Works, the most famous foundry of its time, the building is as finely detailed as any cast iron structure in the world. The spectacular exterior design was matched by revolutionary technology inside: the first practical passenger elevator was introduced here by Elisha Otis on March 23, 1857.

The Haughwout building has always generated excitement. In Ada Louise Huxtable’s view, “the Haughwout store’s iron elegance contained all the seeds of the future; its metal facade was to lead in turn to the metal frame; the elevator, combined with the metal frame, was to produce the skyscraper; and its repetitive Palladian rhythms were to become the basis of today's aesthetic of pre-fabricated, mass-produced structural units.”

Images

488 Broadway

488 Broadway

Creator: Leslie Schwartz Photography View File Details Page

A  view of the Haughwout building in 1859.

A view of the Haughwout building in 1859.

Source: The Illustrated London News, 1859 April 2. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs View File Details Page

Haughwout building in 1970

Haughwout building in 1970

exterior from the southwest | Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs | Creator: Historic American Buildings Survey Cervin Robinson, Photographer View File Details Page

Haughwout building cornice and top floor detail in 1967

Haughwout building cornice and top floor detail in 1967

Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs | Creator: Historic American Buildings Survey Cervin Robinson, Photographer View File Details Page

Haughwout building entrance vestibule in 1970

Haughwout building entrance vestibule in 1970

Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs | Creator: Historic American Buildings SurveyCervin Robinson, Photographer View File Details Page

Haughwout building detail of monogram of entrance vestibule

Haughwout building detail of monogram of entrance vestibule

Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs | Creator: Historic American Buildings SurveyCervin Robinson, Photographer View File Details Page

Haughwout building ground floor capital and stamped ceiling detail in 1970

Haughwout building ground floor capital and stamped ceiling detail in 1970

Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs | Creator: Historic American Buildings SurveyCervin Robinson, Photographer View File Details Page

Haughwout building subcellar capital in 1970

Haughwout building subcellar capital in 1970

Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs | Creator: Historic American Buildings SurveyCervin Robinson, Photographer View File Details Page

Street Address:

488 Broadway, New York, NY [map]

Cite this Page:

Margot Gayle and Robin Lynn, “488 Broadway,” Tours, accessed October 16, 2019, http://tours.hpef.us/items/show/27.

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