What are these fur district gargoyles doing?

Dingy West 29th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues was once the heart of the city’s fur district, reaching its heyday from the 1920s to the 1950s.

The block is still lined with fur warehouses and fur showrooms, though slowly their numbers are dwindling.

It’s easy to walk down the street and totally miss what seems to be a Gothic ode to the fur industry in the middle of the block, at number 214.

That’s the location of a curious building called the “29th Street Tower,” the entrance of which is flanked by these two grotesques.

This creepy character above looks like he’s massaging a beaver—or examining a beaver pelt?

The second one is more of a mystery. He appears to be holding a squirrel, letting it chew his finger. Is it kind of a last meal before the squirrel gets made into a coat?

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5 Responses to “What are these fur district gargoyles doing?”

  1. Nathan Says:

    I scouted that building for a film years ago (can’t remember which one). Anyway, I asked the building manager about the gargoyles and, true or not, he said the one with the beaver(?) was the guy assessing the quality of the pelt. The other one shows a guy feeding a squirrel(?) (nuts, not fingers) to symbolize nurturing wildlife so furriers wouldn’t deplete their own resource. He said something about it hearkening to the Native American tradition of cherishing and honoring that which nourishes you.

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    Thanks Nathan, very interesting. I like that the unknown fur company that put up the building decided to include these depictions of furriers working their craft and being grateful for the wildlife they made their living off of.

  3. focusoninfinity Says:

    I’d like to see gargoyles around the roof of the U.S. Congress building of known Senators and Representatives accepting “bribes”.

    Such would add political reality to political idealism; add architectural realism, to architectural idealism.

  4. The majestic sheep heads of East 13th Street « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] and manufacturing buildings paid homage to the animals who helped fill their coffers—like the beaver and squirrel of West 29th Street and the silkworm clock on Park Avenue South. Share this:TwitterLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

  5. The foxes of a Fur District building entrance | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] This Fur District building has another interesting entrance: two grotesques handling a couple of furry creatures destined to become coats in some rich person’s closet! […]

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