It’s an oft told tale for Forgotten NY fans, so stop me if you’ve heard it before. For those who haven’t, you can see three rats scurrying up the struts supporting a sidewalk entrance canopy on the Lexington Avenue Graybar Building entrance at East 43rd Street.
Let the late Meyer Berger, who was the Forgotten NY specialist of the New York Times in the 1950s, explain it all for you.
“The architect…tries to symbolize the fact that the Graybar Building was the focal point in the country’s greatest maritime and railroad center. The rat-and-hawser motif is there to symbolize a ship and, in turn, a port. The rat on the hawser, baffledby the rat-guard, is trying to get into the ship. The circle of rat heads on the side of the hawser typify the rats IN the ship.
“You will see some grasshoppers in the design, too, because, as in the song, ‘Grasshoppers stand upon the railroad track.’ And, too, you will see a number of albatrosses–birds of the sea–carved here and there.”
I’ve looked, but can’t find any bugs or birds, but the rats are certainly there. The Graybar was constructed in 1926.
A close look will reveal eight rats’ heads surrounding the ‘hawser’ as it reaches the Graybar Building.
You’ll find elephants at the W New York on Lex and East 49th, but I’ll save that for another post.