In the 1890s, many new lofts were built to accommodate the demands of the rapidly expanding garment industry. 15 West 38th Street, designed by architectural firm Delano & Aldrich in 1908, was one such early loft. Note the building’s rich terracotta detailing, which includes an elaborate baroque cartouche.
One of two distinctly different hotels, The humble looking Mills Hotel (485 7th Avenue), was completed in 1905, and was intended for single, working-class men with little disposable income.
The much more flamboyantly designed Hotel York (486 7th Avenue), a Beaux-Arts design in red brick and limestone, completed in 1902 and intended as a convenient stop for wealthy out-of-town buyers and sellers visiting the district.
On 7th Avenue, two skyscrapers cut dramatic shapes into the Garment District’s skyline. The first of these, 450 7th Avenue, is The Nelson Tower, designed by H. Craig Severance and completed in 1931. The tower is 46 stories high, and notable for its polychrome geometric brickwork and decorative metal spandrels at the base.
Completed in 1932, The Navarre is the second of these skyscrapers, located at 512 7th Avenue, and was designed by the firm Sugarman & Berger and is distinguished by its elegant Art Deco detailing, as well as a superb recently restored lobby.
Another distinct Kahn-created loft is the Arsenal Building, 463 Seventh Avenue, completed in 1925. and named for the New York State Arsenal that once stood on this site. The Arsenal is loosely modeled after the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, drawing an implicit connection between the burgeoning garment district and the thriving wool trade of Renaissance Italy.Be sure to look up so as not to miss the intricate frieze of heads and other shapes at the fifth floor.
The most colorful of these second-generation lofts in unquestionably The Fashion Tower, (135 West 36th Street) designed by Emery Roth and completed in 1924. The Fashion Tower is a favorite due to its polychrome terracotta ornament and the distinctive peacocks, a traditional symbol of women’s fashion, over the freight entrance.
After 1911, a new generation of lofts emerged—buildings with improved sanitation, light, ventilation, and fire escapes. An example of this is the Herald Square Building, at 141 West 36th Street completed in 1912, a year after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, designed by the architectural firm Buchman & Fox.
The 1916 Zoning Law required all buildings above a certain height to be built with setbacks so that sunlight was not blocked from the street. Ely Jacques Kahn's 1400 Broadway is a terrific example of this.
Next door you'll find another building of Khan's - The Bricken Casin Building (1410 Broadway). Completed in 1931, its dramatic façade of black and white glazed brick and its inventive use of setbacks pay homage to the glittering, Art Deco style of the Jazz Age.