2.12.2012

Iron Man

Daniel Badger's Iron Works, one of the leading cast iron foundries,
took up an entire square block 13th to 14th Streets and Avenues B to C.
detail of plan for grain bins
The jaunty Honnewell Building, Boston. Just looking at this makes me happy.
"tension rod girders"
The exquisite Haughwout Building on Broadway and Broome Streets, 1856.
A confection in cast iron.
2007. See my earlier post about the Haughwout
The Cary Building, on Chambers Street
Cary Building, detail, from Lower Manhattan Real-Estate.com
Badger foundry marks are visible all over lower Manhattan. Photo by Walter Grutchfield
Of the great many foundries in the New York City area during the 19th century, Daniel Badger’s Architectural Iron Works was one of the leading manufacturers catering to architectural use. Badger cast the prefabricated iron components for many of the now iconic facades in Soho, downtown*, and Brooklyn, as well as for buildings around the country and as far away as Havana and Cairo. One of Badger's lasting and notable works, however, was not a building but a handsome architectural catalog produced as an advertising tool in 1865. It is the only known extant NYC foundry catalog, now scanned and online, thanks to a grant from the Margot Gayle Fund of The Victorian Society New York.

Daniel Badger (1806–1884) started off in Boston. One of his earliest jobs, in 1842, was a storefront for which he proposed cast-iron columns and lintels. The client, so wary of the newfangled architectural approach, included a proviso in the contract that should the process fail, Badger would remove the iron work at his own expense and substitute granite piers. Needless to say, the ironwork... worked. Although mentions of cast iron facade components predate Badger, his flair for self promotion forever linked his name with the innovation.

Moving to New York in 1848 he set up shop first on Duane Street, then to a massive square block facility between 13th and 14th Streets and Avenues B and C (see the fantastical Steam Punk factory portrait at top). By 1860, the Architectural Iron Works employed 400 people. In 1865 he published his nearly 500-page catalog “at great cost” in order to, among other things, "improve the public taste.”

Badger begot the dubious legacy of the NYC roll-down security gate when bought the rights to new “burglar-proof rolling iron shutters” and popularized them as “Badger Fronts.” Also on offer:
Iron Store Fronts, Manufactories, Grain Warehouses, Arsenals, Ferry Houses, Bridges, Roofs, Domes, Rolling Shutters, Venetian Blinds, Wrought Sashes, Railings, Verandahs, Balustrades, Cornices, Stairways, Columns, Capitals, Arches, Window Lintels and Sills, Consoles, Brackets, Rosettes, Urns, Door and Window Guards, Lamps, Awning and Horse Posts, Girders, Beams, Patent Lights and Iron Sidewalks. — J. Leander Bishop, A History of American Manufacturers from 1608 to 1860, 1868
Badger retired to Brooklyn in 1873 and died in 1884. He currently resides at Green-Wood...//

*See the Haughwout and Cary buildings above, Badger's Architectural Iron Works also supplied the iron for the Cooper Union building, the Gilsey House (1869-71) on Broadway at West 29th Street and Commodore Vanderbilt's original Grand Central Terminal.

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Go to the Victorian Society's Cast-Iron site, with its survey of 69 NYC buildings, including two that have been demolished in the past 3 years!)

2 comments:

Ian Brett Cooper said...

Paper floats. Maybe if he'd been carrying another book he might have had a chance.

angela said...

Ian
Somehow it sounds like you might be referring to Shelley? Drowning with the formidable Sophocles' Tragedies in his pocket? Not sure how you got here tho?? Glad to see someone reading around and commenting in any case!

Av

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