J. J. Bowes & Bro. Iron Works, 343 W. 19th St., New York, 2010
This ad for John J. Bowes & Brother appeared in the Real Estate and Builders' Guide, vol. V, no. 105, 19 March 1870, p. 2:
The Bowes foundry was located at 240-242 W. 29th St. between 7th Ave. and 8th Ave. from 1869 to 1884. In 1885 they moved to 227-229 W. 29th St. (i.e., across the street), where they were in business until approximately 1916. This ad appeared in Polk's New York City Directory, 1915.
A publication called The People's Military Almanac for 1862, available as a google book, contained an early advertisement for John J. Bowes & Bro. when they were located at 81 E. Houston St., "one door from Bowery."
During the Civil War years John J. Bowes was assessed taxes at both his business (81 E. Houston St.) and at his home (13 First St.). Most of the early assessments were small. An example of his business tax from Sept. 1864 totaled $5.50 based on an inventory of 2800 pounds of wrought iron valued at $65 and 1876 pounds of cast iron valued at $45. In July 1866 the business was assessed a tax of $92.95 for iron railings valued at $1401 and repairs valued at $247. The tax rate for the iron was 6%, and for the repairs 3.6%. In Nov. 1866 his personal income of $405 was taxed at a rate 5% for $20.25 for the month.
At the time of the 1880 U. S. Census John J. Bowes lived at 305 W. 27th St., between 8th and 9th Avenues. He was 35 years old. His occupation was "Iron Railings." And his household consisted of himself, his wife, Mary L. Bowes, age 29, born Canada, five children, and Bowes' brother, Charles M. Bowes. Charles M. Bowes was 33 years old, and his occupation also was "Iron Railings." In 1900 the U. S. Census recorded John J. Bowes, born New York, June, 1841, living at 59 Pennington Ave., Passaic, New Jersey. He was 58 years old and had a new wife, Julia A. Bowes, born England, October, 1845, immigrated 1872. Four of Bowes' children from his previous marriage lived with the family. In 1910 Bowes was 69 years old, still lived at 59 Pennington Ave., Passaic, New Jersey, and his occupation was "Manufacturer Ornamental Iron." Of his children, only Antoinette, age 34, still lived with the family.
The effusive New York's Great Industries, 1885, wrote as follows about J. J. Bowes & Bro., "John J. Bowes (Successor to John J. Bowes & Bro.) Manufacturer of Iron Work for Buildings, a pioneer of one of the progressive industries which has advanced with the growth of New York City. We learn the senior member of the above firm commenced business some twenty or twenty-five years ago with comparatively small mechanical facilities, but by perseverance, tact, skill and business abilities more room was necessary to meet the demands of his customers. We find later on John J. Bowes & Bro., located at Nos. 240 and 242 West 29th Street, where they became well and favorably known in the business community, not only among their customers, but with the merchants who had dealings with them. Mr. C. M. Bowes having withdrawn from the firm we find John J. Bowes still continuing business in the large commodious seven-story building at Nos. 227 and 229 West 29th Street, which his constantly increasing business had compelled him to erect. Here we found on visiting his manufactory that he had supplied himself with the most improved machinery for the different grades of work, and it would be a difficult task to find a more complete establishment in the city. An efficient corps of draughtsmen and designers are constantly employed and new and elegant patterns for all kinds of iron for building, such as columns, girders, shutters, doors, patent lights, sidewalk elevators, fire-escapes, iron stairs, iron railings etc, etc., will be given, and the work done in the shortest space of time by an army of skilled workmen. Artistic ornamental wrought ironwork of intricate and original designs a specialty, and his facilities for producing it are not surpassed by any manufacturer in the country. We are informed that abundant capital enables him to take advantage of the market in purchasing his materials, so that he can guarantee his customers their orders will be filled as low as first-class labor and materials will warrant. The business although started as a local one and without an illustrated catalogue has become so widely known that we find its products in nearly every city in the United States. We can without hesitation say that after a quarter of a century's experience in his business, he is a progressive and representative man, whose reputation and well known character for fair and straightforward dealing with his customers and the business world, joined to his close application for that long period of time shows that he has done more than to demand success - he has deserved it."
John J. Bowes & Bro.'s later address, 227-229 W. 29th St., is represented by this ornamental coal chute cover found at 147 W. 87th St.
Copyright (c) 2011 Walter Grutchfield