The 12-story Little Singer Building at 561 Broadway is not really that little. It is called such because there used to be an even bigger Singer Building, that was once the tallest building in the world.
Built in 1903 in a variation of the Beaux-Arts style by Ernest Flagg, the Little Singer is an L-shaped building with entrances at 561 Broadway and 88 Prince Street. It stands on what was originally two lots that included the Marble Hall Theater on Broadway.
The building was erected to house the Singer Sewing Machine Company’s offices and factory. Due to the booming business of the company, an even larger building was commissioned only 6 years later in 1908 at Broadway and Liberty Street. At 41-stories high, the new building dwarfed the first, but unfortunately, that building was demolished in 1967 to make way for the U.S. Steel Building, so now only the Little Singer remains.
The Little Singer has recessed windows and wrought iron balconies, unlike surrounding buildings. If you look closely, you will notice that the balconies on each floor vary slightly in design, even though at first glance they look uniform. The Prince Street façade still bears a sign that reads “Singer Manufacturing Company.”
In 1979 the building was converted to a coop, with 20 offices and 15 JLWQ units. The building was restored in 2008 by Bone Levine Architects, who recreated the original glass-and-ironwork sidewalk canopy that had disappeared from the Broadway façade after many years of neglect.
Mango, a clothing company, currently occupies the L-shaped commercial space in this building.
Yukie Ohta is founder of The SoHo Memory Project