WESTERN UNION, 23rd Street and 5th Avenue

Built 1883 in the eclectic Queen Anne style (Henry Hardenbergh, arch., who later conceived the Plaza Hotel). The handsome red brick, dormered building ┬ámessages via pneumatic tube two and a half miles to the downtown office. “W.U. 1883” is displayed at the peak on the 5th Avenue side.

It’s my opinion that the “Western Union” entablature on the 23rd Street side seems to be depicting the four winds of legend, known in Greek myths collectively as the Anemoi: Boreas (north), Notus (south), Eurus (east) and Zephyrus (west). Zephyrus’ name has passed down through the years…zephyr means a light breeze, while Boreas survives in “aurora borealis,”, the ‘northern lights’ caused by reactions of electric particles to the Earth’s magnetic field.

Depicting the four winds, which came from everywhere, with a company that connected farflung areas of the USA via the telegraph would be appropriate.


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