Jonathan Cohen

Jonathan Cohen

Posted on 07/07/2015

Photo taken on April 29, 2014

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Puck Building
Romanesque Revival architecture
Houston Street
Lafayette Street
Lower East Side
New York City
New York
United States

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The Puck Building – Houston Street at Lafayette, New York, New York

The Puck Building – Houston Street at Lafayette, New York, New York
The Puck Building is an historic building located in the So Ho neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. It occupies the block bounded by Lafayette, Houston, Mulberry and Jersey Streets. An example of the German Rundbogenstil (round-arched neo-Romanesque) style of architecture, the building was designed by Albert Wagner. Structurally, the building is related to the Chicago-Style buildings developed by (among others) Burnham & Root and Sullivan & Adler. The steel frame allowed much larger bands of windows along the ground floor than were possible on the masonry buildings constructed in New York City well into the 1880s.

Puck was America’s first successful humor magazine. Its founder, Joseph Keppler (1838-1894), an immigrant from Austria, named it after the mischievous character in Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, whose famous line he adopted as his magazine’s motto: "What fools these mortals be!" Issued weekly in German from 1876 to 1896 and in English from 1877 to 1918. Puck was a substantial 10 x 13.5 inches with several pages of color illustrations. Keppler was a master lithographer whose cartoons rivaled those of Thomas Nast. Unlike Nast, he attacked both political parties with gusto, as well as Catholics, Mormons, Chinese, Irish, suffragettes, trade unions, Thomas Edison and Joseph Pulitzer.

When Puck Magazine ceased publication in 1918, the building continued to house numerous independent printing firms and related printing services such as typesetters and a printing ink company. Indeed, the odor of printing ink permeated the building for many years. An office stationery company, S. Novick & Son, once occupied the second floor. Notable amongst the firms’ salesmen was Alger Hiss, the former assistant Secretary of State who was brought down in a spy scandal in the 1950s. In the 1980s, the Puck Building was the home of Spy Magazine, whose editors informally dubbed it "The Spy Building". In the early 2000s, the building housed the Manhattan Center of Pratt Institute. New York University, which signed a 15-year lease for three floors of the Puck Building in June 2003, has since been negotiating with the building's owner to secure the rest of the building.

The Puck Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on July 21, 1983.

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