Why are these Dutch-style houses on 37th Street?

West 37th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues is a gritty, mostly sunless stretch of Manhattan in the heart of what’s left of the old Garment District.


So what in the world are these two houses that look like they belong in Amsterdam doing sandwiched between tall loft buildings and rickety old walkups?


The top one, at 18 West 37th Street, is actually quite charming—a stepped gabled gem masked by a tacky storefront.

Dutchhouseswallstreet1746The second one closer to Sixth Avenue looks like a poor man’s version of the first.

No original Dutch buildings from the 17th century survive in New York. But this 1880s sketch gives an idea of the kind of Amsterdam-like architecture that existed on Wall Street centuries ago.

These two replicas on 37th Street must be leftovers from a faddish 1890s revival of Dutch-style architecture.

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8 Responses to “Why are these Dutch-style houses on 37th Street?”

  1. Sam Says:

    I have always admired these 2 houses, and wondered what they looked like when they first went up (and for that matter, what the rest of the block looked like at the time!) The floors above the stores seem to be apartments. I wonder if they have any interesting Victorian details left…probably wishful thinking. With the recent threat of redevelopment in Midtown, little curiousities are on the chopping block, which is sad to me, because no one needs another Courtyard hotel where these old, dignified survivors provide a little character to the block.

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    This is one of my new favorite blocks because of the little curiosities, as you note. Both sides of the street contain a strange mix of styles from various eras. It’s New York at its finest: an unglamorous stretch of interesting, undisturbed oddities. I hope it remains that way.

    • Sam Says:

      Definitely agree! There are several blocks in that general area within which you will find 19th century row houses, but none as unique as these. Many of the more traditional houses had those sort of storefronts on the lower levels, but I do wonder about whether these did – especially the brick one. The store somehow seems out of place on the lower floors.

  3. Melissa Says:

    A number of 17th Century Dutch buildings do survive in New York City, however primarily in the outer Burroughs. The oldest house in New York City.

    In Brooklyn, the Wyckoff Farmhouse, is the city’s oldest structure dating to c. 1652. In Statan Island there is the Billiou-Stillwell-Perine House dating to 1679, the Abraham Manee House from roughly 1670, the Voorlezer’s House (the oldest school house in America) circa 1695 amongst others at Historic Richmond Town.

    The Dyckman Farmhouse in the Inwood section of upper Manhattan was build in 1784, after the Dutch colonial period, but in the Dutch colonial farmhouse style.

    Worth a visit!

  4. TJ Connick Says:

    An examination of the history of the building at number 18 can be found at the website Daytonian in Manhattan.

  5. erictb Says:

    That style apparently came back in the early 20th century. You see a lot of c1910’s-20’s houses that look something like this. Not usually in Manhattan, though, but usually in richer looking areas.

  6. Erik Says:

    There are more (Dutch style) buildings with stepped gables in New York:13+15 South William St. and the Mickey Mantle School , 82nd St. at West End Avenue.

  7. Architettura coloniale olandese - Wikipedia - SAPERELIBERO Says:

    […] ^ https://ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com/2014/03/22/why-are-these-dutch-style-houses-on-37th-street/ […]

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