A Village monument to a 19th century blacksmith

HallananinitialsLots of vestiges from the years when horses powered New York still remain: stables, horse drinking fountains, and the handsome nine-story loft built in 1897 as a monument to work horses and one Greenwich Village man who shoed them.

The clues are on the facade. Below the fourth floor, fancy insignias bearing the initials “MH” appear.


Who is MH? The letters stood for Michael Hallanan, a Galway-born blacksmith who came to the Village in the 1860s to open a horseshoe shop around the corner on Barrow Street.

HallananbuildingNo ordinary blacksmith, Hallanan invented a rubber horseshoe pad that prevented horses from slipping on ice.

That earned him kudos from the newly formed Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals as well as big profits, which he used to buy nearby real estate.

Nine Barrow Street was built by Hallanan—it’s hard to see, but the very top says “Hallanan Building” in green letters—and it “covers the plot where he had his original horseshoeing shop 60 years ago,” noted The New York Times in Hallanan’s 1926 obituary.

On the West 4th Street side, there’s an enormous bas relief of the horseshoe he invented, as well as its patent number.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

7 Responses to “A Village monument to a 19th century blacksmith”

  1. Newport Carl Says:

    I love love love this web site. Thank you again… What a labor of love !

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Thank you!

  3. BabyDave Says:

    How cool. The printer of my high school newspaper was in that building, so I was there a lot. Never knew the building’s history, though. Thank you.

  4. Vol. 1 Brooklyn | Morning Bites: Michael Hastings, Larkin On Parents, Maurice Sendak Draws Tolstoy, Caffeine Creativity, And More Says:

    […] Paying tribute to a 19th century Greenwich Village blacksmith. […]

  5. The fourth day of Christmas: Ephemeral New York « Books Can Save A Life Says:

    […] Nine Barrow Street in Greenwich Village bears a version of my husband’s family name, in honor of an inventive Irish blacksmith. I found that out when I read, “A village monument to a 19th century blacksmith.” […]

  6. Kristy Watson Says:

    I just came upon the invention of Michael Hallanan for his 1898 rubber horseshoe. I invented a urethane horseshoe about 100 years after him in 2000. It’s called Ground Control horseshoes. Ironically, we both use the same advertising words to describe our horseshoe benefits. What’s old is new again. http://www.plastichorseshoes.com

  7. Joseph Bullwinkel Says:

    You have your facts mixed up. The rubber horseshoe was to protect the horses feet while on cobblestones. My great-grandfather, Michael Hallanan had a second patent on a studded horseshoe for walking on ice.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: