Four men hanging out on a 41st Street building

The history of the building they’re on, at 114 West 41st Street, holds the key to who these Medieval-looking men are and why they were carved into the facade in the first place.

It must have had something to do with the trades.

Each cross-legged figure is doing something: The first is holding a heavy hammer, the next one has a wheel or gear in one hand and a tool in the other.

The third man cradles an object in his arms I can’t make out. A globe? The fourth grips two cups.

The building is empty; the owners have a big sign up trying to attract new tenants to this space in the center of what they’re called the city’s “transportation triangle.”

Too bad the website offers to hint as to who built it and why.

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14 Responses to “Four men hanging out on a 41st Street building”

  1. Nathan Says:

    Now you’ve got me curious. According to, it was built in 1925 and also has the alternate address 115 West 40th St. (It goes through the block?)

    Your pictures are labled “MenonBuilding”. I’m assuming that was some sort of sign on the property? Menon seems to be a fairly common Indian name, but that’s no help either.

    Lastly, I think that forth guy is holding a bowl or a chalice. It doesn’t look like a complete sphere.

    I’d love to know if you find any more info.

  2. Nathan Says:

    Oops, typo. built in 1915, not 1925.

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    Thanks! Even with that alternate address, I can’t find anything other than tax assessment info. I will keep looking. It seems to have escaped notice from the architecture writers and such.

    “Menonbuilding” is just my way of IDing the photo.

  4. Sharon Florin Says:

    Love this building and painted “the artist” awhile back. Posted it on my very first blog post in 2007.

  5. wildnewyork Says:

    Ah, lovely!

  6. Christopher Gould Says:

    According to the documents on file with NY State Historic Preservation office, it’s the rear elevation of 119 W 40th Street. It’s listed as a contributing building in the Garment Center National Register Historic District. The nomination document calls it the Philip Lewisohn Building, designed by Maynicke & Franke in 1912-13. The description mentions six figures enthroned on each street facing, but sadly no more details.

  7. wildnewyork Says:

    Thank you for finding out all this. At least we have a name now and a designer. This building is so lovely, it needs a spotlight.

  8. Nathan Says:

    And the name of the building starts to open up additional info/pics.

  9. wildnewyork Says:

    Now that is an excellent photo!

  10. Rob Says:

    The Lewisohn family apparently was involved in copper mining and other mercantile pursuits. They were German immigrants, so that might account for the garb of the figures. Here’s a link to their family Wikipedia entries

    Lewisohn Family

  11. Quid plura? | “And of course you can’t become if you only say what you would have done…” Says:

    […] Looking up, Ephemeral New York spots tradesmen on a 41st Street building. […]

  12. Tom Says:

    Thanks for the post. I have discovered the building today after passing it many times. Google showed your blog. And this:

  13. Serafina Rotondi Says:

    I recently walked passed the building and was so intrigued. Why the tradesmen? Who’s idea was it? I cannot believe that these reliefs have very little history about them in print. 😦

  14. Robert Bennett Says:

    This was the International Magazine Company building. According to the urban archive website which is part of the NY public library. It is connected through to 119 W 42nd St, where there is a main entrance. This address is apparently the rear entrance. It was built in either 1915 or 1918, not sure which year as I have seen both listed.

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