by Kevin Walsh

Throughout most of Shea Stadium’s existence (except for the last couple of years, when Citifield was being constructed) a large, four-sided clock tower was visible beyond the left-field fence with a flashing neon sign. This was the Serval Zipper Factory, for the past few years a U-Haul distributorship. The clocks, of course, stopped long ago.

The structure was originally the Queens office/factory of W & J. Sloane Furniture Co. on Lawrence St. (now College Point Blvd.) in Flushing.


Mark March 19, 2012 - 11:53 am

I believe the zipper factory shut down in the mid 1970’s. It’s been a U-Haul storage and truck rental facility since at least 1980. I rented some space there in 1981-1982.

Joe March 19, 2012 - 8:06 pm

That’s such a great memory of my childhood in the 70’s seeing that neon sign from Grand Central on our way home from my grandparents in East Elmhurst. Love to see an old picture of it lit-up.

Fred March 19, 2012 - 8:18 pm

Serval Zippers was always the first thing I saw coming out of the subway tunnel and the last thing going in. I haven’t ridden the #7 since the ’60’s and I hope they never tear the tower down. In Baltimore they kept the Bromo-Seltzer tower as a city landmark, NYC should do the same for zippers!

Ken B March 22, 2012 - 7:25 am

This was not just an office for W & J Sloane, it was their furniture factory. This facility produced fine quality furniture, much of it multi-layer veneers, which was very popular at that time.

George Tsourounakis May 10, 2012 - 7:42 pm

You should see the horrible new paint job!

april July 6, 2012 - 2:48 am

I remember this from the Van Wyck, Flushing Meadow on the left. If I only had a dollar for every time I passed it ….

Anonymous October 6, 2019 - 9:14 pm

I was told the tower was added during WWII to disguise it from its temporary use of building materials for the war effort. Tanks or Jeeps or something.

GERARD BURKE June 12, 2013 - 5:48 pm

While this building was the old Serval Zipper Factory when I was growing up in Corona in the 1950s and 1960s, it wasn’t always a zipper factory and certainly was not the shambles it is today. The building originally housed a W. & J. Sloane furniture factory at least through the late 1930s, according to information from a series of photos depicting the building in the NYPL Digital Gallery. I don’t know when Serval bought it. I remember seeing the clock tower from the No. 7 Flushing Line train I took to go to the Flushing YMCA and then Flushing HS in the 1960s. The factory was erected near the former site of Willowbrook, the white-porticoed 19th century mansion owned by the Lawrence family, for which Lawrence Street is named. The same Digital Collection displays several black-and-white photos showing Willowbrook as it appeared around 1910, as a handsome structure fronted with thick doric columns and flanked by a park-like setting of shade trees and grassy lawn that ran down to the Flushing River. Willowbrook was destroyed by fire in 1927.


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