This is the Altman Building.


It was built in 1896 as the carriage house for the B. Altman department store.

It's a lovely building with large sets of window-paned doors close to the street.
One can imagine the carriages arriving and people being helped out of them to go shopping.
These days, the Altman Building is the site of sample sales and weddings and furniture shows and business events.

A few months ago I watched, each morning, as a team of workers refinished the wood floors of the 10,0000 square-foot space. I was kind of surprised that they did it the very same way we would refinish floors in our home. There were five guys with sanders and guys with mops and guys with, I don't know, that polyurethane coating stuff.
Then they tackled the windows out front. Scraping and sanding and glazing and staining.
They taped each and every pane. It took days just to do the taping. They stained them a nice oxblood color and they did the doors too. Then they poly-ed the door and window trim. It looked good.

Well, someone must have changed their mind because last week they started stripping the window trim again...more sanding and priming and then the taping, which, again, took a few days to complete. Finally, a couple of fellows painted it all white, just in time for Fashion Week.
It was a huge project and one had the idea that it was tedious and had to be done in time for specific events.


I was walking past it one morning as three men were removing what must have been hundreds of pieces of carefully-applied blue tape from the windows when I heard her, in an unmistakably New York accent, with the kind of attitude that only a New Yorker can have, say:

I don't know. I don't think I like the white.



Harriet M. Welsch said…
I've never seen this building and I work in the building that used to be the department store. Is it nearby?
Scot said…
You know what? I agree with her don't like the white either! Tell them to try dull black. Then maybe/probably back to the oxblood red. :o)
Sounds like some of my customers, of course I get paid the same whether they change their minds once, twice, five times or ten. Seven seem to be an average. Thank god for PDF files and email!
Maybe that lady should try a digital camera and photoshop first.
L.P. said…
I kinda like the oxblood. But them I'm an oxblood kick this fall. Anyway, what a lovely building!
blackbird said…
Dear Harriet,

Strangely, it is not especially close to the Altman department store building we all know, which is further east and slightly north. I'm not sure what the story is there. Perhaps it was the carriage house for carriages that made deliveries for Altmans?
Anonymous said…
It sounds so lovely, and just these little pictures make me want to see it. That's one thing I envy about you easterners. The architecture is old and full of character. Here it's so bland and functional and BORING.

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