Pict0726.jpg (132557 bytes) New York Architecture Images-Soho

A.T. Stewart Dry Goods Store/ Sun Building Landmark


Joseph Trench and John B. Snook


280 Broadway 




Renaissance Revival






The Sun BuildingPict0731.jpg (120195 bytes)


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This white marble structure was built as the first department store in the United Stated. Based on the form of an Italian palazzo, this may be the first example of Renaissance Revival architecture in New York. The building's accurate proportions and restrained geometrical ornamentation generated associations with Europe that enhanced its commercial and architectural success. Twelve-foot high ground floor windows showcased the store's merchandise and allowed light into the interior.

With the mid 19th century growth of the residential area around Washington Square, A.T. Stewart moved his store to Broadway between 9th and 10th Streets. Situated near the city's political and civic center, the old store building was converted into the headquarters of the Sun Newspaper. Today this building houses municipal offices.

The Sun Building at 280 Broadway, is located on the east side of Broadway between Chambers and Reade Streets. With the important exception of City Hall, it is the oldest of the City's buildings that DCAS manages. Now a seven-story building, its original five-story section, at Broadway and Reade, was completed in 1846. (This was just ahead of 209 Joralemon Street - then Brooklyn City Hall, and now the Brooklyn Borough Hall - which was under construction from 1845-1848.)

The Sun Building ClockThe former A.T. Stewart Store was one of the most influential buildings ever erected in New York City, as its style, materials, use, and location helped determine the course of architecture and commerce in the city. In 1846, Alexander Turney Stewart opened New York's first department store. Located on the corner of Broadway and Reade Street, the store inaugurated the commercial development of Broadway north of City Hall. As the first Italianate commercial building in New York, it established what would become the style of choice for hundreds of stores and warehouses erected through the succeeding decades. In addition, the store was the first major commercial structure faced with Tuckahoe marble, a material that would later become common on such buildings; it was innovative also in its use of imported French plate glass for the ground-floor windows. The store expanded along Broadway, Reade Street, and Chambers Street, with three-bay modules echoing those of the original design (the final bays were built in 1884). By the early 1850s, cast iron was employed on the ground floor to support the upper walls. The building served as Stewart's retail store until 1862, when it became a warehouse. The sixth and seventh floors are 1884 additions (the seventh-floor corners were added in 1921), built when the store was converted into offices. [The Guide to New York City Landmarks]

In 1917, the New York Sun Newspaper bought the building, giving it the name by which it is referred to today.

The City took title to the building in 1966 with the intention of demolishing it, as part of the then-planned Civic Center development. That plan was later set aside. In 1995, the City utilized a unique public/private initiative to begin to restore the entire building. Since 280 Broadway is the only building in the DCAS portfolio that contained extensive retail areas on the street level and second floor, the City worked with a private developer to completely renovate the interior and to preserve the retail portions. The renovation was completed in 2002. Retail tenants had already moved into the first and second floors, and the City's Department of Buildings now occupies the upper-level floors.


NYC LandmarkThe Sun Building is a designated New York City Landmark.