This flatiron-shaped building, designed to accommodate a wedgelike lot, opened its doors in 1887. The Burnham company was established in the 1890s just down the block and seems to have become the prime tenant of this building not long after. Canned clams, clam chowder, and clam bouillon were Burnham mainstays; so was an instant gelatin called Hasty Jellycon, whose faded name is now only faintly readable, in the best light, in the middle band of signage. Though the founding date is a matter of some dispute, it's generally agreed that the company did business here until about 1929.
In its 2003 designation report of the district as a whole, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission succinctly captured the changing character of the neighborhood in the roster of this building's commercial tenants. It begins with New England Biscuit Works, whose painted name is still plain to see, and Burnham; continues with three dozen businesses, most of them food-related, over the course of a hundred years; and concludes, at the turn of the 21st century, with "Hell, club (1999-2003)."
E.S. Burnham & Co.
Surviving signage, 53-61 Gansevoort St. (Washington-Greenwich Sts.), Manhattan