Hamilton at 26 Broadway

Many of you have visited Hamilton Grange National Memorial, the only home Hamilton ever owned. However, before he built his country home, Hamilton resided in several other New York City addresses.

Allan McLane Hamilton described Hamilton’s New York addresses in The Intimate Life of Alexander Hamilton:

“Hamilton, during the early years of his practice, lived at 57 Wall Street before his removal to Philadelphia with the rest of the Cabinet.  On his return in 1795, he occupied a small house at 56 Pine Street, and later moved to 58 Partition Street (now Fulton Street), then to Liberty Street, near Broadway.  From there he went to 26 Broadway, where he lived until 1802, when he built and occupied his country seat, nine miles above the city, which he called “The Grange,” after the Scotch home of his ancestors.”

He further describes Hamilton’s neighborhood in 26 Broadway:

“When he lived at 26 Broadway, the west side of that thoroughfare below Trinity Church was, with one exception built up and occupied by well-to-do and prominent persons.  The exception was a small gun-shop on the south-west corner of Morris Street.”

Ferdinand S. Bartram similarly described the 26 Broadway location as “the most fashionable residence portion of the city.”

In his book The American Skyscraper, 1850-1940: A Celebration of Height, Joseph J. Korom writes:

“The soil beneath the Standard Oil Building, its  site officially recorded and known as 26 Broadway, once belonged to Native Americans, to the Dutch, then the British, and for a time it even supported the home of Alexander Hamilton.  But probably this site is most celebrated because of the series of “Standard Oil Buildings” that occupied it.

The world’s most celebrated, and to some the most notorious, oil concern was headquartered on these premises starting in 1885.  The Standard Oil Trust Company headquarters would remain at this location for the next forty-nine years.”

“26 Broadway 00” by Wurts Brothers – Collection of photographs of New York City. Catalog Call Number: AZ 06-6805. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:26_Broadway_00.jpg#mediaviewer/File:26_Broadway_00.jpg

In his biography of John D. Rockefeller, Ron Chernow described the 1885 construction of the Standard Oil building:

“In late 1883, Standard Oil began to assemble real estate at the southern tip of Manhattan for new headquarters, destined to soar above Broadway at Bowling Green on the onetime site of Alexander Hamilton’s home.  Having long outgrown William’s old offices at two different locations on Pearl Street, the firm had operated for three years from modest, unprepossessing quarters at 44 Broadway.  Now, on May 1, 1885, after spending nearly one million dollars on it, Standard Oil moved into its impregnable new fortress, a massive, granite, nine-story building.  The combine’s name didn’t appear outside, just the building number.  Twenty-six Broadway soon became the world’s most famous business address, shorthand for the oil trust itself, evoking its mystery, power, and efficiency.”

The building was designated as a New York City landmark in 1995.  The report from the Landmarks Preservation Commission states:

The powerful sculptural massing and arresting silhouette of the Standard Oil Building represent the new set-back skyscraper forms that emerged during the early 1920s. Limestone curtain walls facing Broadway, Beaver Street, and New Street are enriched with large-scale neo-Renaissance ornamentation that enhance the building’s picturesque quality. The building, erected as Standard Oil approached its fiftieth year of operation, reinforced the presence of the oil industry giant in the heart of New York City’s financial and shipping center. From the headquarters building at No. 26 Broadway, John D. Rockefeller’s associates directed the Standard Oil Company that monopolized the American oil industry, endured a sensational anti-trust decision, and retained a dominant role in the international oil business. Although Standard Oil’s successor firm sold the structure in 1956, the building at No. 26 Broadway has remained a prominent address in lower Manhattan.

 

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