Years ago, Howard Street was one of those little streets in the neighborhood, like Jersey Street and Jones Alley, that only locals knew. Over the past decade, however, hipnesss has come to Howard and has attracted coworking spaces and fashion brands, most notably the old-school fashion trailblazer Agnes B.
Back when SoHo was still somewhat industrial, Howard Street was home to a unique and distinctly un-industrial site. There was a small park at the northwest corner of Broadway and Howard, and in that park there was a hexagonal, freestanding, quasi-colonial building that housed a bank.
Built in 1967, the building was commissioned by Franklin National Bank, who hired architect Robert L. Zion to nestle one of their branches in a green plot of land. After Franklin National folded in 1974, European American Bank took over the site until 1996. For nearly 30 years, this now prime location was SoHo’s only green space.
In August, 1979, this branch made headlines when a gunman shot and killed a teller at the bank during a hold-up spree in Manhattan when five banks were robbed in one hour in New York City.
After the bank moved out, there was a flea market on the park grounds for a few years before the abandoned building was demolished in 2002. The lot remained vacant for over a decade, creating a void along the row of cast iron facades along Broadway.
In 2015 RKTB Architects erected the 6-story building that is there today for the coworking company Cubico. The building’s design, which is much more contextual than its predecessor, echoes the neighboring loft buildings.
Notably, the Cubico building is the first building in New York constructed expressly and exclusively for coworking spaces, proving once again that SoHo remains a trendsetter as a mixed-use neighborhood.
On Friday, October 4, SoHo Broadway Initiative will hold its second First Friday as a way to bring public open space back to this location for the day. Howard Street between Broadway and Mercer Street will be closed to traffic from 10 a.m. to 6 pm. There will be dining, games, and art books and drawing supplies via The Uni Project‘s DRAW NYC program (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.). For details, click here.
Yukie Ohta is founder of The SoHo Memory Project