134 Charles Street at Greenwich Street
West Village, New York, NY 10014
A century of Greenwich Village history lies tucked behind the painted masonry façade of 134 Charles Street. The American Railway Supply Company Building is steeped in American iconography of innovation, strength, speed and connectivity. Born as a factory, it evolved along with the neighborhood to house artists, studios, and galleries. Today the building supports New York City’s creative infrastructure as a home for media and communications companies.
Designed in 1911 for William H. Woolverton, president of American Railway Supply Co., the building’s earliest products were brass baggage checks, lapel tags and badges for the booming US railroad industry. The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission has noted that the company also made “buttons and lapel insignia for employees, and badges for motormen, conductors, guards and porters” of the New York City subway system.
After housing light manufacturing for more than half a century, the building gained a new identity in 1965. Automotive heir Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., who was noted by the New York Times “ as one of the country's leading art collectors and benefactors,” remade the edifice as an urban hideaway and gallery. His art and artifacts collections included stamps, rare books and glassworks, as well as paintings and sculptures by Picasso, Renoir, Marin, and other 19th- and 20th-century masters.
The noted painter and printmaker Jennifer Bartlett arrived at 134 Charles Street in 1989. Known initially for her early, minimalist work, Bartlett received wide acclaim for monumental installations such as “Rhapsody,” now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, which is made up of 987 steel plates stretching over an expanse of 150 feet. During her two decades on Charles Street, Bartlett created many of her most familiar works, often blending geometric forms with familiar domestic objects that recall an idealized American homescape. Her understated yet exuberant vision transformed the building into a distinctive residence and studio space. She added a third story designed by architect Victor Caliandro, created two levels of award-winning gardens invisible from the street, and adorned the stairwell with custom tile-work still visible today.
Reinvented once again for the 21st century, the American Railway Supply Company Building continues its celebration of creative proximities, housing companies that specialize in television production, social media strategy, digital communications, and media design; along with private residences and world-class hidden greenspaces. Like the nearby High Line, the building embodies a unique collision of industry, artistry, and history—the essence of the Greenwich Village Historic District.