Each time I walk down East 43rd Street, I expect it to have been torn down:
A beautiful Italianate marble building, 4 East 43rd Street has to be one of the few abandoned properties in Midtown. Nestled in amongst the skyscrapers adjacent to Grand Central, it has been decaying since I began my location scouting career over four years ago.
To me, the building has always felt like it would be right at home in Venice, especially with its beautiful second floor balcony:
The building is covered in wonderful ornamentation, and I realized as I passed it today that I've never even taken a photo. Those red x-ed boxes on the front are never a good sign of health, and rather than miss my chance forever, I decided to snap some pictures.
As I was shooting, a guy suddenly approached me and accusingly asked me why I was taking pictures. I get hassled all the time while scouting, and I'm usually quick to cop an attitude whenever someone gets in my way. However, this time, I found myself answering honestly: "Because it's an incredible building."
The guy sorta stepped back and said "Ha, yeah, I think so too. That's why we bought it."
Turns out the guy is somehow related to the company who recently picked up 4 East 43rd Street for a cool $6.3 million (maybe he's the owner? part-owner? It was unclear). We chatted for a bit, and the man told me how he's passed the building every day on his way to work for years and really really hated to see its decay. He was thrilled to purchase it recently, and can't wait to get to restoring it.
Honestly, in a city where 99% of developers would raze this property without an ounce of guilt, it was really astonishing to hear him talk so passionately about saving it. This NY Post article pretty much mirrors the conversation we had. Apparently, the building is to become a boutique hotel, which I think is a perfect fit.
4 East 43rd Street was built in 1916 and originally leased to the Mehlin Piano Company. Though the interior is now completely destroyed, this is what it originally looked like:
An old Mehlin advertisement:
At some point, the first floor became a clothing store - over the right doorway, you can still see the remains of a "WOMENS DEPARTMENT" sign (can anyone make out what the upper line reads?):
The building is lined with cherubs, which are now significantly weathered:
The second floor balcony (note the mermaid-like creature sculpted into the center):
Third floor balcony:
Finally, the top floor - note the row of crests:
A close-up of the crest designs. Note the swastika in the center shield. Nothing unusual about this - prior to World War II, the swastika appeared quite frequently in building ornamentation as a symbol of religion, luck, or prosperity. I especially like how the crests are sculpted so as to appear to be hanging from bolts.
The west side of the building is in pretty bad shape, with an enormous broken window:
Side entrance to the building, now completely sealed up:
Side window, featuring more ornamentation:
The cherub design continues around the exterior:
The second floor side balcony looks like its in bad shape:
It's tragic that this building has been left to rot for so long, but I've got my fingers crossed that we'll see a rejuvenation in the coming years. Check it out if you have a chance - one way or the other, it'll look quite different in the coming years.
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