The beavers of New York City

New Yorkers made a fortune off the fur of this water-loving rodent 400 years ago, and its image adorns the city’s official seal as well as public and private buildings.

This one at left decorates the Municipal Building at Centre Street.

The similar little guy on the right can be found on elevator doors inside 125 Worth Street, headquarters of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

But the coolest beaver image of all is this one, carved above a doorway at 16 West 32nd Street in the heart of Koreatown. I’d love to know what the building was once used for.

One more cute little beaver lives underground—in the Astor Place subway station, appropriately enough.

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16 Responses to “The beavers of New York City”

  1. Joe R Says:

    There used to be a large bronze statue of a beaver in the south campus of CCNY on Convent Avenue in Harlem. (The beaver was the college mascot and once the name of its sports teams.) As I recall, the statue was the gift of an earlier graduating class. I have no idea if that statue is still there as the south campus has been extensively redesigned since I went there as a student.

  2. petey Says:

    the idea of a statue of a beaver mascot is funny enough that i looked it up. found no photo, but this:

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    Wow, majestic!

  4. Quick Links | A Blog Around The Clock Says:

    […] The beavers of New York City […]

  5. Nick Says:

    As a recent graduate (this past May, in point of fact) I’ve never seen that beaver statue on campus, so it’s probably sitting in the dingy basement of Shepard or the NAC, maybe. (We still have the dignified, resolute statue of General Webb, however.)

    Oh and yes, the womens’ teams are the Lady Beavers…

  6. snoh Says:

    That building in K-Town’s address is 16 West 32nd Street not 16 East. It currently houses a Nara Bank on the street level, but alas, I also have not been able to find the rationale behind the beaver being up there.

  7. wildnewyork Says:

    Thanks, I fixed the address in the text. I’ll have to do a little research to see who put up that building.

  8. Ira S. Drucker Says:

    It is possible the beaver above the building on W32nd Street has something to do with the fur trade.
    That area is on the fringes of the Fur District which was roughly 25th to 32nd Streets, 6th to 8th Avenues

  9. wildnewyork Says:

    That makes sense. Nice detective work!

  10. Joe R Says:

    I can think of one other building in that district that has distinct fur-related imagery. (No beaver, though.) On W 29th btwn 7th and 8th Avenues there are some pretty nasty looking gargoyles that seem to be skinning some weasel-like animals.

  11. Dan K. Says:

    The building now known as the Cocoa Exchange at 82 Beaver Street in Lower Manhattan was originally called the Beaver Building. There are Terra Cotta Beaver reliefs in the medallions at the top of the two story high pilasters on the facade. I believe the original sign is also still visible at the top of the south end of the building.

  12. Lynne Says:

    Since I have not seen the building itself, this is only a guess, but the beaver over the doorway on W 32 St might relate to the fur trade. The address is slightly outside the traditional boundaries of the fur district, which I think spans 25 to 31 Streets and is farther West, but being so near, might have once housed a related trade or a fur factor (financial broker) or some such. Frequently financial arms of various trades housed themselves away from the center of things to afford clients a little discretion.

  13. Robert P. Fowler Says:

    16-20 West 32nd Street was the Jaeckel Building. H. Jaeckel and Sons were furriers and importers. They placed an ad in the September 27th, 1908 edition of the ‘New York Trubune,’ telling about the move into their new building from Union Square. Not only did they sell fur coats and robes, but they also had “mounted rugs, magnificant specimens of African lions, Bengal tigers, and polar bears.”

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