With its ornate pressed terra-cotta and brick facade and a steel skeleton, this structure exemplifies the transition from cast-iron commercial buildings to a new generation of tall office buildings in New York City. Replacing cast iron as the material of choice in the late 1890s, terra-cotta had the advantage of providing both weather protection and fireproofing for steel skeleton frame structures. Additionally, like cast iron, terra-cotta could be formed into a wide range of ornamental details that could be produced easily and inexpensively in great quantity. Highly susceptible to petrochemical pollution, terra-cotta was eventually phased out in favor of more durable stone and metal cladding systems.


Broome and Mercer Office Building
470 Broome Street [early 1890s]