9. 280 Broadway is Home to a Tammany Hall Rival
Washington Hall (1828). Via New York Public Library Digital Collections
Decades before A.T. Stewart came to this site, the Washington Benevolent Society, a political club affiliated with the Federalist Party, constructed Washington Hall at the corner of Broadway and Reade Street. Built from 1809 to 1813 by architect John McComb, Jr., who also designed City Hall, it held a meeting space for the society and a hotel. The Tammany Society, a political rival, responded with the construction of its own building, Tammany Hall, in 1811-1812.
Spurring Tammany to get its own building turned out to be Washington Hall’s primary political legacy, as the Washington Benevolent Society and the Federalists faded from the scene within a few years while Tammany Hall became a dominant force in the City for decades. The hotel meanwhile, became one of New York’s most luxurious, until a fire heavily damaged it in 1844. Rather than rebuild, the owner sold the property to Stewart who now had a site on Broadway to build his new store.