I have worked frequently in the Chelsea area, more specifically, the 7th Avenue corridor between 23rd Street and Penn Station. I have always been curious about the terra cotta gem on West 23rd just off 7th called the “Traffic Building.”
[click on an image in the above Gallery for a larger photo]
Daytonian in Manhattan has thoroughly researched the minor masterpiece, and describes it thusly:
In designing what could have been a small, nondescript lunch room and office building [architect Abraham] Fisher outdid himself. His resulting structure was six-stories of brown brick and terra cotta so creatively conceived and executed it demands attention. Brick was laid out in a parquet-like diamond pattern; a large terra cotta panel announces the TRAFFIC BUILDING, flanked by terra cotta tiles with lush foliate designs; and two standing eagles perch atop the capitals of pencil-like swirling four-story columns.
The name is associated with automobiles only tangentially. When it was constructed, it housed a branch of the Traffic Cafeteria Corporation, no doubt patronized by truckers, deliverymen, etc. After several years of union and mob trouble, the cafeteria moved out around 1940.
An eatery once again occupies the ground floor.