1. The Buildings Building and its Future

Yesterday (ca. early 1850s) and Today

Today, 280 Broadway is home to the City’s Department of Buildings, which moved there in 2002 after a major renovation. There are also retailers in the base of the building, including a Modell’s store in the space once occupied by Woolworths, and a dance studio.

To be sure, part of 280 Broadway’s relative obscurity may be attributable to its current condition. Its aging facade shows many signs of wear and tear and patchwork repairs. More ominously the building has been rimmed by sidewalk sheds for years. A parking garage in the cellar was closed in 2016 following a ceiling slab collapse.

Some help may be on the way soon. In December 2016 the City awarded a $17.8-million contract for exterior rehab. According to a Landmarks Preservation Commission report (PDF), this will include facade restoration to match historic color and texture, measures to protect the building from water infiltration, and repairs to the clock and thermometer. Perhaps the marble palace will once again be a star of Lower Broadway.

Next, read about lost mansions including A.T. Stewart’s Libbey Castle, Woolworth’s Gilded Age office, and ghosts of newspapers past. Contact the author @Jeff_Reuben.