Our neighborhood’s long history, from meadowland to suburb to commercial center to red light district to industrial hub to art capital and finally back to commercial center, reminds us that our city is forever changing.
In the mid-1800’s, the stretch of Broadway between Canal and Houston Streets was a center of opulence that would put its current day incarnation to shame. The Broadway “corridor,” as it is now called, was then the stomping ground of the well to do.
Arnold Constable & Company, once the oldest New York department store, opened on Canal Street in 1857, in a building that stretched all the way to Howard Street along Mercer Street, where Agnes B. is now located. Its neighbor was none other than Lord and Taylor, at Broadway and Grand Street, now a Wells Fargo Bank, and further north, at Broadway and Prince, was not Armani Exchange, but Hill Brothers, purveyors of millinery goods to the well-dressed ladies of the day.
One of the most luxurious shops of all was Tiffany and Co., (now back in SoHo on Greene Street) at 550 Broadway between Prince and Spring Streets, where Banana Republic now resides. The Atlas clock in the image above is the one that now adorns the facade of the Tiffany & Co. flagship store on Fifth Avenue at 57th Street.
In this city that never sleeps, where change happens in a heartbeat, it seems that, at least on our little stretch of Broadway, we have come full circle.