The 1868 rowhouses built into Bloomingdale’s

Stand at 59th Street and Lexington Avenue and look up at the Art Deco main entrance of Bloomingdale’s.

As you take in the enormity of this low-rise, black and gray department store, you might think it consists of one uniform building extending all the way to Third Avenue.

But halfway down 60th Street, you’ll see a modern-day time capsule connecting the Lexington Avenue and Third Avenue ends of the store.

Here is a stretch of cream-colored rowhouses with fanciful details and the kind of mansard roofs that were all the rage in the Gilded Age city.

These rowhouses, once known as 162-170 East 60th Street, were built in 1868 and actually predate the Bloomingdale’s store by 18 years.

“The five buildings, a picturesque side-street surprise that has escaped demolition at least once, were developed as a tide of post-Civil-War rowhouses swept up the East Side,” wrote Christopher Gray in the New York Times in 1990.

The rowhouses “were probably like others on the street shown in later views: high-stooped brownstones in the Italianate style, three windows wide, with a low fourth floor under a modest mansard roof,” wrote Gray.

Bloomingdale’s acquired the rowhouses the way they acquired the land on the rest of the block from Third to Lexington Avenues and 59th to 60th Streets—in pieces in the late 19th and early 20th century.

In the 1880s, three were turned into a store annex, and at some point they may also have served as a loading dock.

Today, these five former upscale residences sandwiched in the middle of Bloomingdale’s go unnoticed by most shoppers, even with the old “Bloomingdale Brothers” sign over the street-level windows.

[Second image: pdxhistory.com]

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8 Responses to “The 1868 rowhouses built into Bloomingdale’s”

  1. The 1868 rowhouses built into Bloomingdale's | News for New Yorkers Says:

    […] Source: FS – NYC Real Estate The 1868 rowhouses built into Bloomingdale’s […]

  2. Ann Haddad Says:

    Wow! I never noticed this! Thanks for the reminder to always look up, Esther!

  3. Ty Says:

    I noticed these when I was a child. My aunt would drag me to shop and i made the natural assumption that people lived in Bloomingdales.

    I remember that they were painted black with a loading dock underneath but I’m not sure.

    When Aunt Lydia would boast about whatever she bought at Bloomingdales my Yankee father would try to take her down a notch by muttering Bloomingdale BROTHERS.

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      He probably remembers the old tagline that appeared on so many building ads in the days of the Third Avenue El: “All Cars Transfer to Bloomingdale’s”

  4. Michael Says:

    Just a general comment on how much I enjoy this site. Now living outside Charleston, SC, the connection to the times past in NYC is most satisfying.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  5. carminebassano Says:

    Amazing! . . . and I’ve walked and rode past this countless times. Shows ya’ how little we take the time to look up. Very interesting.

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