Bing & Bing Construction Company
Bing & Bing: The Impact on Greenwich Village
Alexander and Leo Bing started their enterprise in 1909, and worked mostly on the Upper West and then Upper East sides of Manhattan. So, it is interesting that their greatest legacy is arguably in Greenwich Village. So it went, that even in the face of the stock market crash of 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression, Bing & Bing developed some of the most important prewar apartment towers in Greenwich Village. The five contemporaneous structures they opened in 1931 were audacious — all designed and built over the same brief 18-month period, and in a neighborhood not really home to many tall buildings. To this day, Greenwich Village is comparatively low-rise as compared to the rest of Manhattan, so the views from their towers remain as open as they were in 1931. This is partly due to the historic designation which, in all likelihood, maintains the status quo in the world famous Greenwich Village.
Apparently, during the 1920s, the Bings had been buying numerous small buildings in the neighborhood, cobbling together sites for their planned towers. They made quite a splash in real estate circles of the time. An advertisement in the April 12, 1931 edition of the New York Times asked would-be residents of Greenwich Village “if you have ever hoped for a living room just a few feet longer…a bedroom just a few feet larger…closets just a little deeper…atmosphere a little finer…” and recommended five new apartment blocks being built by Bing & Bing.
The building’s facades are all treated quite differently, but yet share a common Art Deco influence. All were designed by Emery Roth (except Two Horatio Street which was designed by the Bings’ other ‘staff’ architect, Robert T. Lyons) at around the time he was creating his masterpiece on Central Park West, The San Remo, but these downtown buildings targeted a completely different market. Whereas The San Remo contained huge apartments with many bedrooms and bathrooms, the Greenwich Village buildings consisted mostly of studios and one-bedrooms, and a smaller number of two-bedrooms. These apartments, also, lacked Formal Dining Rooms and any live-in Maid’s Rooms. However, the overall quality of layout and construction is superb, if just on a smaller scale. To this day, to say you live downtown in a Bing & Bing building is a signal to other New Yorkers, and those “in-the-know,” that you have good taste — and paid top dollar.