3251 Broadway, Manhattan

Deconstructed: 2010

Wood: Long Leaf Pine (Pinus palustris) / 3 x 12 x 10-20′ & 12 x 14 x 15′

History: The factory built at 3251 Broadway was constructed of brick, blue stone, and longleaf pine for William Riedell by the architecture firm of Thom & Wilson. Thom & Wilson was a successful firm noted for prolific production over stylish innovation and flair. In 2005, the architecture critic Christopher Gray referred to the firm as “architectural contractors.”2 The five-story structure was unassuming and modest and was occupied early by tenants such as Bradley, Currier, and Company who produced window and door sashes and the Empire City Woodworking Company who made cabinets. In 1915 a listing in The Horseless Age, likely the first automotive magazine ever published, placed the Universal Shock Eliminator Company at 3251 Broadway. The ambition of the company was apparent and while its prized product was the Shock Eliminator their legacy is undoubtedly the car bumper which the company patented in 1927.
The Horseless Age reported in January 1920 that Demonstrations of the Universal Shock Eliminator, which, its makers claim, gives extra tire miles numbering into the thousands, attracted favorable comment from visitors to this booth. This device was used on U.S. Army armored battery Cadillac cars for service at the front. The manufacturers claim to this shock eliminator the advantage that it can be applied to the extreme front of chassis in addition to rear, enabling the four extreme points of the car to be held in flexible suspension. The makers say of this device: “It is a well-known fact that every jolt transmitted to the passenger is first received by the tires. Minimize the jolt by the application of the U.S.E. Shock Eliminators and you will lessen the tire consumption and maintenance cost considerably.
Despite a promising start the Universal Shock Eliminator Company vanished from the motor trade magazines by the late 1920s. In 1934 the companyʼs owner was listed as
Inglis M. Uppercu who owned the Uppercu Cadillac Corporation, which sold and assembled Cadillac automobiles. Uppercu later started the first international airline called Aeromarine Airways that, among other feats, took passengers in boat planes during the Prohibition Era to the Caribbean for “liquor tourism.”
– Mitchell Hulse
Photos: (l)Cadillac Armored Vehicle with U.S.E. technology. Dual cylinder shocks mounted on single-bar bumper are the shock eliminators. Photo from http://www.landships.freeservers.com/ Davidson-Cadillac_trigsby.htm (r) Sawkill Lumber Co.

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