E. V. Haughwout Building

Created in 1856, this cast-iron landmark is home to the first passenger elevator.

TravelCurious Tip

The excellent French bistro Balthazar is just round the corner. Make sure you book well in advance, though

Built in 1857 and standing at the corner of Broome Street and Broadway in SoHo, the E.V. Haughwout Building is a five story building with distinctive cast-iron sections for its two street fronts and windows borrowed from the 1536 Sansovino Library in Venice.

Having two cast-iron street fronts was a novel challenge: the structure would have to support much more weight than a mid-block building with just one street front. Rather than hanging the facades off the brickwork, as was usually done, they actually used the iron framework to strengthen the masonry structure, in a sense making this building a predecessor of the steel and iron framed skyscrapers to come.

The building originally housed Eder V. Haughwout’s chinaware emporium, which was famously frequented by the First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln who purchased custom-made pieces for the White House there. Other clients included the Czar of Russia and the Imam of Muscat. In other words, it was the place to buy your thimbles.


The building was also home to the world’s first passenger elevator, which ascended at a searing speed of 0.2 metres per second. Years before electricity, a steam generator in the basement was used to power the newfangled contraption. Although the five-story structure was not really any taller than other buildings at the time and had no special need for an elevator, Haughwout knew that people who come to see the novelty, and stay to buy his merchandise. It was a savvy marketing gimmick.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in New York
Greenwich Village
The bohemian capital of the world - and these days one of America's priciest neighbourhoods.
South of Houston Street is a historic district famed for its artistic atmosphere and cast-iron façades.
Old Police Headquarters
Today a group of luxury apartments, the NYPD's former headquarters is one of the finest Beaux-Arts buildings in all New York.
Little Italy
A nostalgic area full of the legacies of Italian immigrant culture at the turn of the 20th century.
Rockefeller Center Observation Deck
This high vantage point gives an incredible vista of the Big Apple.
5th Precinct
One of New York's most well known precincts. It polices Chinatown and Little Italy.

Related Tours

Private Walking Tour of Little Italy, Soho and Chinatown
The different neighbourhoods of New York each have something to give the curious traveller. Go with your personal guide to see four of its most vibrant districts to see many of New York’s off the beaten path sights.
  • Enjoy avant-garde  Greenwich Village
  • Experience the artistic soul of Soho
  • See the impact of immigrants in Little Italy and Chinatown 
The Village

 Simply known as “The Village” and much loved by native New Yorkers, Greenwich has been, and still is home to America’s bohemian scene. You will start at Washington Square Park, a buzzing city hangout, where you will discover cobblestoned mews and 19th century brownstone carriage houses. You will glimpse some of New York’s rarest sights, for example, the home where John Wilkes Booth spoke openly of his plan to murder President Abraham Lincoln. Pass by such landmarks as the Jefferson Market Library and Bleecker Street, as well as where Hemingway, Edgar Poe, Jackson Pollack lived and worked. 

 Soho, Little Italy and Chinatown

You will proceed to explore New York City’s vibrant neighbourhoods of Soho, Little Italy and Chinatown. You will venture through Soho where you will learn about its transformation from its' humble beginnings as a centre for the rag trade industry, eventually becoming an extravagant artist community. You will see Soho's unique collection of cast iron buildings such as the Haughwout Building, home to the first safety elevator, and the Old Police Headquarters— the 1909 Beaux-Arts building.
While walking the narrow cobblestone streets in the heart of Little Italy, you will learn about Mafia hangouts, the most famous of which is Ravenite Club. You will pop into the oldest cheese shop in NYC and the first NYC pizzeria, as well as exploring Old Saint Patrick's Cathedral. Journey through NYC’s Chinatown, walk along Canal and Motts Streets, the former Five Points District, and the Old Opium Den, where you will hear stories of Chinese immigrants who came to Manhattan to build a future of their own. Your expert local guide will also tell you all about the violent gangs that sprang up around them, fighting for dominance. 


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