2787 Broadway

View of 2787 Broadway from east; Courtesy NYC Municipal Archive

The St. Austen

by Tom Miller

In 1899 developer Joseph A. Farley completed a flat, or apartment, building at 2787 Broadway, midblock between 107th and 108th Streets.  Five stories tall, the residential entrance to the St. Austen was flanked by polished granite columns that sat upon paneled stone pedestals.  The stone-framed upper-story windows wore prominent cornices and were decorated with ornamental cresting (at the second and fifth floors), and carved rosettes at the fourth.  Stone band courses above the second and third floors, and a hefty intermediate cornice above the fourth defined each story.  The building was crowned with a deeply overhanging, ornate metal cornice.

Joseph A. Farley moved his office into the ground floor space, sharing it with real estate operator Charles E. Schuyler & Co.  It was most likely a successful, symbiotic relationship for both the developer and operator.  Both firms left in 1900, and the storefront was leased to the architectural firm of Brower & Gayle.

Born in Philadelphia in 1861, she graduated from Swarthmore in 1881, from the University of Pennsylvania in 1891, and received her Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr in 1893.

In the meantime, the apartments were populated by middle-class tenants, like attorney George A. Carroll, who lived here as early as 1901, and Dr. Martha Bunting.  Dr. Bunting’s resume would be impressive today, but was phenomenal for a turn-of-the-century woman.  Born in Philadelphia in 1861, she graduated from Swarthmore in 1881, from the University of Pennsylvania in 1891, and received her Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr in 1893. A respected biologist, among her findings were the “origin of sex cells in Hydractinia and Podocoryne; development of Hydractinia; significance of the otoliths for the geotropic functions of Astacus; structure of the cork tissues in roots of some rosaceous genera,” according to the 1910 American Men of Science.

Respectable white-collar tenants continued to occupy 2787 Broadway into the Depression years.  In 1922 civil engineer Horace H. Chase rented an apartment, for instance.  At the time, the former street-level office had become the Broadway Electric Shop which sold and repaired electrical items like lamps.

Leventhal's Kosher Deli Advertisement

Image Courtesy Columbia Spectator, ca. 5 March, 1952

Charles E. Schuyler & Co. Real Estate Advertisement

Image Courtesy Columbia Spectator, ca. 2 May, 1899

Throughout the 1950s, the shop was home to Leventhal’s kosher delicatessen and restaurant.  The eatery advertised, “Home Cooking Our Specialty.”

The building suffered a downturn in the 1960s.  The wonderful cornice was removed, as was the columned residential entrance.  An iron fire escape that now zig-zagged down the façade obscured its decorative elements, and a modern storefront was installed.

The building suffered a downturn in the 1960s. 

In 1963, 2787 Broadway was one of several buildings in the neighborhood cited for poor living conditions.  The various structures were charged with social violations (“crimes of assault, dope addiction, and prostitution,” for instance), and/or physical problems, such as “lack of paint on walls, accumulation of rubbish…vermin, broken windows,” etc., according to the Columbia Daily Spectator on April 10, 1963.  The article noted, “In one case of partial compliance, the owner of 2787 Broadway was ordered to appear at a Department of Buildings hearing to show cause for his delay.”

In the early 1980s, the ground floor was home to Aesop’s Table, which touted itself as “the finest Greek restaurant in the City.”  It was replaced in 1985 by 107 West, a Cajun-style restaurant.  As it prepared to open, on September 15, 1985, New York Magazine promised the food would be moderately priced, “so Columbia students (the owners hope) will find the 110-seat place affordable.”  The restaurant was still in the space into the pandemic, with a much broader menu, until it was replaced by Kyuramen in 2022.

Tom Miller is a social historian and blogger at daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com


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