09 June 2011

The Traffic Building

There's a handsome little building on 23rd Street near Seventh Avenue hiding in plain sight. It's attractive enough, but the main reason it caught my interest was its odd name: the Traffic Building. Could this have been the headquarters of an early version of the MTA?

Improbably enough, the building was named after the Traffic Cafeteria, which called this home when the structure was built in 1927. It took up the bottom two floors.

The Times says this of the architect's work: "The terra cotta pilasters on the side of the second floor are made of interwoven Celtic-type ornament. The bricks in the spandrel panels at various locations are rendered in herringbone and checkerboard patterns. Twin spiral colonettes run up the facade of the building, topped by medieval-style capitals and eagles. A frieze across the third floor carries large wreaths of floral ornament flanking a terra cotta plaque with the building's name. For a vernacular New York building, it is a masterpiece."

1 comment:

Andrew Porter said...

"Traffic" used to refer to trucking. My stepfather, publisher of the New York Motor Express Guide, was a member of the New York Traffic Club, where you could talk business, get a drink, and relax with fellow members of the then-regulated trucking industry.