A closer look reveals something curious: small ship anchor emblems decorate the facade, each with the letters S/SH flanking them.
These are the giveaways hinting at 262 Greene Street’s seafaring past.
The building was once an administrative office for Sailors’ Snug Harbor, an institution founded in 1801 by a sea captain named Robert Richard Randall.
Randall, who became a wealthy landowner, wanted to use his fortune to create a retirement community for “aged, decrepit, and worn-out seamen.”
“At the time of his death, Randall’s estate, located north and east of modern-day Washington Square, was rural,” states nycgovparks.org.
“By the time a protracted challenge to his will was settled, the land around the estate had changed dramatically, the city being developed around the area.”
“Opting instead to maximize profits on the Manhattan property, Snug Harbor’s trustees relocated the proposed site to Staten Island, buying property around the harbor in 1831.”
The Greene Street building is no longer occupied by Sailors’ Snug Harbor employees; it’s unclear if the institution still owns the property.
In any case, ship anchors are a rare sight so far uptown and inland. These serve as hiding-in-plain-sight reminders that the city earned its riches off the backs of the sailors who came in and out of New York Harbor.