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est producers of reed organs, thousands of which found their way into American parlors every year. Like other organ manufacturers in the late nineteenth century, Estey sought to diversify into the booming piano industry, and his partnership with Simpson—a pioneering North Side piano manufacturer—was a means to that end. When Estey Piano opened its factory, it manufactured upright and grand pianos that would become recognized for their “superior construction and workmanship.”

The original portion of the Estey Piano Factory was designed by the architectural firm of A.B. Ogden & Son. Many of this building’s features, including its L-shaped plan, flat roof, regular fenestration pattern and bay arrangement, and relatively narrow width to allow for daylight penetration, are characteristic of late- nineteenth-century factory buildings. Its mixture of segmental- and round-headed window openings, and the Romanesque machicolations of its clock tower, place the Estey Factory within the tradition of the American round-arched style. Other features, including the factory’s distinctive, red-orange brick, dogtoothed and zig- zagging patterned-brick stringcourses, recessed brick panels, terra cotta tiles featuring festoons, lions’ heads, and foliate motifs—and of course, its dramatic, projecting clock tower—speak of a building that sought to announce its presence on the urban landscape, projecting a strong public image for its owner. Indeed, the Estey Piano Company often included an illustration of this factory on its trade cards, which advertised the firm’s products.

The original building was extended to the east along Southern Boulevard in 1890, with a harmonious five-story addition designed by John B. Snook & Sons, and to the north, along Lincoln Avenue, with one-story additions in 1895. The Lincoln Avenue additions appear to have been combined and expanded, and then raised to three stories in 1909, and by an additional two stories in 1919; the 1919 addition near the southeast corner of Lincoln Avenue and 134th Street features broad expanses of industrial sash that were characteristic of the “daylight factories” of the early twentieth century. Known today as the Clock Tower Building, the old Estey Piano Company Factory currently houses artists and their studios. With its historic fabric almost com- pletely intact, the building remains, in the words of the AIA Guide to New York City, “the grande dame of the piano trade: not virgin, but all-together and proud.”


The Industrial Development of Mott Haven1

Well before the 1898 creation of the borough of the Bronx, industrial activity was occurring in the area that is now the Bronx’s southernmost portion.2 In 1828, Jordan L. Mott, the inventor of a coal-burning iron cooking stove, opened a “modest little factory” on property he had purchased on the Harlem River near the present Third Avenue, in what was then the township of Morrisania.3 Mott started calling the area Mott Haven a n d , i n 1 8 5 0 , s e e k i n g t o a t t r a c t a d d i t i o n a l i n d u s t r y t o t h e a r e a , h e l a i d o u t t h e M o t t H a v e n C a n a l , a n a r t i f i c i a l i n l e t f r o m t h e H a r l e m R i v e r t h a t w o u l d u l t i m a t e l y e x t e n d t o j u s t s o u t h o f 1 4 4 t h S t r e e t . 4 T h e c a n a l , h o w e v e r , w a s s l o w t o a t t r a c t i n d u s t r i a l f i r m s , a n d b y 1 8 7 9 , o n l y a h a n d f u l o f s u b s t a n t i a l o n e s e x i s t e d n e a r b y , i n c l u d i n g a b r a s s a n d i r o n w o r k s , a m a c h i n e s h o p , a n d a f e w l u m b e r a n d c o a l y a r d s , a l l o f w h i c h w e r e b e l o w 1 3 8 t h S t r e e t . These were joined by a marble yard, lumber yard, and hotel west of the canal, near the tracks built by the New York & Harlem Railroad to connect Manhattan with what is now the Bronx, in 1841.5 Despite the presence of t h e l a r g e H a r l e m R i v e r & P o r t C h e s t e r R a i l r o a d y a r d , w h i c h s t r e t c h e d f r o m L i n c o l n A v e n u e t o B r o w n P l a c e s o u t h o f 1 3 2 n d S t r e e t , f e w f a c t o r i e s a p p e a r t o h a v e e x i s t e d e a s t o f T h i r d A v e n u e a t t h e e n d o f t h e 1 8 7 0 s . 6

In 1874, the townships of Morrisania, West Farms, and Kingsbridge—the sections of the present Bronx borough located west of the Bronx River—became part of New York City. Officially called the 23rd and 24 Wards, they were generally referred to as the “Annexed District” or “North Side,” but they remained fairly isolated.7 At that time, few links existed between the southern portion of the District and Manhattan; among those that did was a cast-iron bridge at Third Avenue which, in 1860, had replaced an old wood dam-bridge built in the 1790s at that location.8 Soon after annexation, however, local residents, property owners, business owners, and booster groups like the North Side Association began agitating for improved infrastructure, in- c l u d i n g b e t t e r c o n n e c t i o n s w i t h M a n h a t t a n . 9 I n t h e 1 8 8 0 s , n e w p u b l i c w o r k s s t a r t e d t o b e b u i l t ; a m o n g t h e m w a s t h e M a d i s o n A v e n u e B r i d g e , c o m p l e t e d i n 1 8 8 4 , w h i c h s p a n n e d t h e H a r l e m R i v e r a t 1 3 8 t h S t r e e t , a b o u t th

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