It is difficult not to run into traces of Alexander Hamilton or George Washington when you are in the extreme southern tip of Manhattan. Right at the beginning of Broadway I saw the Standard Oil building (featured image). The beautiful detail over the archway of 26 Broadway attracted my attention. A dragon clutching a globe featuring Asia squared off against an eagle with a globe turned to show the Americas. What did this premonition of the 21st century have to do with Alexander Hamilton? I found later that this address was Hamilton’s home until he died in 1804. In less than a century this plot was owned by John D. Rockefeller, who built a series of buildings here from 1885 on. The one which I saw had been built between 1921 and 1928 by and architect named Thomas Hastings.
Broadway curves around Bowling Green here, and the facade designed by Hastings curves with the street. You see this by its reflection in the windows of 25 Broadway, another building designed by Hastings. This is the Cunard Lines building where one could buy tickets for trans-Atlantic voyages from 1921 to 1968. Interestingly, the famous Delmonico’s restaurant ran out of this address from 1846 to 1918. I would have liked to walk in to see the famous ticketing lobby, reputedly modeled after Roman baths. But the venue is now rented out for events, and inaccessible.
This detail on 25 Broadway is a bit of fiction, since Cunard lines always ran steamships. Samuel Cunard and the engineer Robert Napier started operating trans-Atlantic cruises in 1839. They reorganized in 1879 to make it into the Cunard Steamship Company. For many years the company’s ships made the fastest time across the Atlantic. I had done as much of street-level gawking I could do here. It was time for me to move on.