But it’s the second factory, on the sixth floor of the Decker Building (on the right) at 33 Union Square West, that gets the most attention. This is where Warhol mass produced his silkscreens and shot films from 1968 to 1973.
If you’ve seen the movie, you know the story. The short version: 31-year-old Valerie Solanas (below), nursing a grudge after Warhol showed little interest in her screenplay, showed up at the factory around 4 pm. She pointed a handgun at him while his Superstar entourage was bustling about, according to Factory Made: Warhol and the Sixties.
“No one showed any awareness of what she was doing until they heard the first explosive crack, which missed,” writes author Steven Watson.
“Mario Amaya thought it was a sniper firing at them from another building. Fred Hughes thought it was a bomb detonating at the headquarters of the Communist Party two floors above. . . . Andy was the first to realize what was happening and yelled ‘No! No! Valerie! Don’t do it!'”
Warhol crawled under a desk. Solanas’ second shot missed, but the third one, fired at close range with Warhol trapped, tore through his chest.
An ambulance brought him and Mario Amaya, who was also shot, to the old Columbus Hospital on East 19th Street. Initially pronounced clinically dead, doctors cut him open and massaged his heart, saving his life with a five-hour operation.
Warhol recovered, and in 1973 moved his factory (now under much tighter control) to 860 Broadway, just up the street. Solanas turned herself in, scored three years’ prison time, and died in 1988.