7. The English Muffin Was Invented in Chelsea
Thomas’ English Muffins are a breakfast time staple, famous for their ‘nooks and crannies’ and horse and carriage advertising. However, despite the name recognition Thomas’ enjoys today, the brand’s history is one of humble New York origin. Samuel Bath Thomas immigrated to New York City from England in 1874 (hence the ‘English’ part of the title) with little to his name and a secret recipe in tow. In 1880, he opened his first bakery in New York at 163 9th Avenue, yet as the muffins boomed in popularity throughout the city and its surrounding areas, Thomas saw it fit to expand to another location. In the early 20th century, Thomas’ purchased the building at 337 West 20th Street to help expand production. The property had an oven already built into its basement, making it a perfect fit for the planned expansion.
However, while the oven may have made 337 West 20th Street an attractive purchase to Thomas, it has since become an old relic that came very close to being forgotten by history. In fact, it took until 2006 for the building’s story to be recovered, and even then, it was by accident. Mike Kinnane and Kerry McInerney were making renovations to their ground floor apartment when they first caught a glimpse of the oven’s hundred-year-old bricks that laid dormant beneath their feet. The couple called on the help of an urban archaeologist and later an engineer from George Weston, the current parent company of Thomas’, to offer an official assessment on their findings. the building’s other most valuable hidden treasure is the tranquil courtyard that sits quietly behind it. Reserved for building residents, the courtyard sits on top of the subterranean oven that the building is now famous for and acts as a small oasis for those that now call ‘The Muffin House’ home. A plaque on the front of the building now denotes its muffin-related history.