Manhattan’s Hudson Square neighborhood, bordered by areas like TriBeCa and the West Village, was gifted to Trinity Church by Queen Anne of England in 1705, and throughout the years, became known as the Printing District until as recently as the late 1990s for the abundance of publishers and printers that historically resided there. Today, its reputation still stands, albeit updated for the modern times as a center for media, design, advertising, and the arts.
In a recent attempt to revitalize the historical significance of the area, the Hudson Square Connection business improvement district is set to launch Hudson Square in 3D, a two-day exhibition of the neighborhood’s art, businesses, and culture. Attendees will be treated to demonstrations of 3D printed furniture and discussions led by design professionals in the area, but hopefully won’t forget to appreciate the history of the area that made it one of Manhattan’s art hubs and the buildings, now repurposed for design firms and furniture stores, that once housed pioneers of the printed word.
Here are five buildings with stories of their own:
5. 250 Hudson Street
The building that stands on 250 Hudson Street was a printing shop for 80 years starting around the 1920s and 30s before undergoing a $30 million refurbishment several years ago. Today, it is occupied by a few communication and marketing firms, Edelman, Momentum, and most notably TED Conferences LLC, which organizes those often-emailed internet-broadcast lectures on every conceivable subject from mathematics to economics to motivational tools in the workplace.
4. 155 Varick Street
The building on 155 Varick Street, or 50 Vandam Street, depending on the source, was once the headquarters of El Diario, which in 1963 was merged with La Prensa and became El Diario La Prensa, now the largest and oldest Spanish-language daily newspaper in the country. Today, it is the home of City Winery, a wine bar and restaurant that also hosts live musical performances.
3. The Butterick Building
The Butterick Building was built in 1903 following the success of Ebenezer Butterick‘s innovative system of multi-size sewing patterns that could be easily shipped and used by seamstresses to make cheaper custom clothes. Butterick designs caught on quickly and soon found their way all over the world. Though Ebenezer Butterick himself had left the company by the time his namesake building was completed, the building nevertheless served as the company’s headquarters until October 2001 when the Butterick company was bought by the McCall Pattern Company and moved uptown to Penn Plaza. At 16 stories, the building was a formidable sight against the relatively humble 1903 Manhattan skyline. The company also housed its printing department there, which produced Butterick’s 32 periodicals, making it one of the country’s largest magazine publishers at the time.
2. 345 Hudson
345 Hudson was the headquarters of Bowne and Co., a financial printing house and the oldest publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange until its acquisition by RR Donnelly in 2010. The company was founded in 1775 by Robert Bowne; the building now houses Medidata, a computer technology corporation and the marketing department for PepsiCo.
1. 1 Hudson Square
1 Hudson Square, also known as the Holland Plaza Building, was once the headquarters of Astoria Graphics Inc. from 1950 to 2000, the Macmillan Company publishers, The American Book Bindery and the Royal Typewriter Company. It was built in 1930 Ely Jacques Khan, then a renowned 20th Century skyscraper designer, and was named a New York City Landmark in 2013.
It is one of the only buildings, despite some reports of the decline of the printing district not only in Hudson Square but in the city as a whole, that still houses printing’s modern descendants: New York Magazine, Horizon Media, and Splashlight, a modern photography studio.
Next, read about Public Printing Press Studio in Williamsburg, New York and find out more about Hudson Square in 3D here. Get in touch with the author at @jinwoochong.