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t h e b l o c k n o r t h o f E s t e y , a n d a n a d d i t i o n a l n u c l e u s o f p i a n o f i r m s h a d d e v e l o p e d o n t h e e a s t s i d e o f S o u t h e r n B o u l e v a r d b e t w e e n 1 3 5 t h a n d 1 3 6 t h S t r e e t s , w h e r e L u d w i g , N e w b y & E v a n s , a n d D e c k e r h a d f a c t o r i e s . 47

“The Bronx was a very good area to run a craft-oriented factory” because of its large number of German and Italian immigrants—many of them skilled craftsmen—according to historian Harvey Lubar.48 And by the end of the nineteenth century, piano making had become one of the Bronx’s signature industries. One 1895 New York Times article about the North Side noted that piano production there was “so large as almost to make it the center of this industry”; the 1897 booster publication The Great North Side, which opened its chapter on manufacturing with a picture of the Estey Factory, also featured pictures of at least four other piano factories, including those of the Wheelock, Ludwig, and Jacob Doll companies.49 Over the following two decades, piano manufacturing in the southern Bronx would steadily increase. In 1908, according to a Times piece by Borough President Louis F. Haffen, 24 piano factories existed south of 149th Street; Haffen’s text was accompanied by illustrations of four representative Bronx places, including the old Borough Hall (later destroyed by fire) in

Crotona Park, and a “Bronx piano factory.”50

In the same year, Bacon reported that the Bronx contained more

than three-fifths of the city’s piano factories, which accounted for more than two-thirds of New York’s annual production.51 The American piano industry was “largely centered in the Bronx,” according to one 1910 ac- count;52 by 1913, the Bronx had 40 piano factories and an additional 14 manufacturers of piano components. “Instead of being injurious to business, this centralization of the makers of one product is proving beneficial,” Borough President Cyrus Chace Miller wrote, arguing that it drew buyers to the area and gave piano manufac- turers easy access to a large pool of skilled labor.53 The presence of a large number of components suppliers also undoubtedly contributed to the Bronx’s success as a piano center, making it easier for companies to enter the business with relatively small amounts of capital, and to compete with their larger rivals. 54

Piano manufacturing continued to grow in the Bronx through the 1910s. By 1919, the borough was, according to the Times, the “center of New York’s piano industry”; in an industry with 191 companies and 23,000 employees nationwide, the Bronx had 63 piano factories employing more than 5,000 people, and pro-

ducing approximately 115,000 units annually.55

In that year, at least 55 firms classified as makers of pianos,

i n c l u d i n g p l a y e r p i a n o s , w e r e l o c a t e d i n t h e B r o n x , a n d 4 3 o f t h e m w e r e i n M o t t H a v e n , i n t h e a r e a s o u t h o f 1 4 9 t h S t r e e t a n d w e s t o f t h e P o r t M o r r i s n e i g h b o r h o o d . 5 6 T h e s e f i r m s m a d e a l l k i n d s o f i n s t r u m e n t s , s o m e cheap, and some expensive. As Lubar explains, “there is no one stereotype company that could be said to typify the Bronx piano industry. Some companies were more concerned with profits than others, while some produced much-higher-quality instruments than others.” 57

S e v e r a l o f t h e c o m p a n i e s t h a t s e t u p s h o p i n t h e B r o n x h a d m o v e d f r o m M a n h a t t a n , m a n y f r o m t h e u p - p e r p a r t o f t h e i s l a n d . 5 8 S e v e r a l o t h e r s w e r e p r e v i o u s l y l o c a t e d e a s t o f T h i r d A v e n u e , b e t w e e n a r o u n d 2 1 s t S t r e e t a n d t h e l o w 4 0 s , a n d w e s t o f E i g h t h A v e n u e , b e t w e e n a p p r o x i m a t e l y 3 4 t h a n d 5 1 s t S t r e e t s . 5 9 M a n y p i a n o factories remained on Manhattan’s west side and in Astoria—the home of Steinway & Sons—during the Bronx’s glory years, but after the Bronx developed into the city’s major piano-making center, several firms set up shop there without stopping in Manhattan first. 60

By 1925, declining production and industry consolidation had shrunk the number of Bronx piano manu-

facturers to approximately 40, with about 32 located in Mott Haven.61

Although most were gone by the 1930s,

a few hung on through the Depression. The final Bronx piano manufacturer was Krakauer, but by the mid- 1970s, it was gone, too. Today, the Estey Piano Company Factory, which played a crucial role in the bor- ough’s rise to the position of “piano capital of the United States,” is the oldest-known piano factory standing in the Bronx, a monument to an industry that played a significant role in the borough’s history. 62

A.B. Ogden & Son63

A New York State native, Alfred B. Ogden (c.1834-1895) established an architectural practice in New York City by 1878.64 In that year—the first in which he was listed as an architect in a city directory—Ogden s a w t h e c o m p l e t i o n o f h i s H a h n e m a n n H o s p i t a l , s i n c e d e m o l i s h e d , o n t h e e a s t s i d e o f F o u r t h ( n o w P a r k ) A v e - n u e b e t w e e n E a s t 6 7 t h a n d 6 8 t h S t r e e t s . F e a t u r i n g a d i s t i n c t i v e , s t e e p l y p i t c h e d m a n s a r d r o o f w i t h h i g h c o r n e r towers, the four-story brick building with stone trim represented what may have been Ogden’s first major commission.65 It was also the work of a man who was already into his forties, and who had been associated, until that point, primarily with the woodworking business. 66

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