Bull’s Head Sculpture Saved from Slaughter to be Centerpiece of New Garden

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Old Macdonald had a farm, but Hell’s Kitchen had a slaughterhouse. Created by the Clinton Housing Development Company (CDHC), the new community garden commemorates the sculptural remains of the West Side Butcher Street’s past. His 100+ year old limestone carving of a bull’s head has been carefully preserved and offers a link to a very different vision of Manhattan.

CDHC consultant and landscape designer Shanti Nagel with the newly installed bull’s head.Photo: Nati Kaez

The giant sculpture — one of the herds of cows and sheep that once flanked the New York Butcher’s Dressed Meat Company on 11th Avenue between W39th and W40th Streets — is located at W53rd and 40th Streets. It is in the process of being installed in the non-profit’s new public space between streets. 10th and 11th Avenues. Adam’s Garden is named after Adam Honigman, a longtime Hell’s Kitchen resident and founder of Clinton Community Gardens, who died in 2007.

Led by CDHC Executive Director Joe Restuccia, Planning and Programs Director Bill Kelly, Horticulture Department Director Meral Merino, and Landscape Design Consultant Shanti Nagel, the group cuts a tape for public release this spring. The final installation will be announced at a ceremony. “I think we’ve been having meetings about cow’s heads since at least 2017, so I keep saying I’m going to bring a lawn chair and a bottle of champagne,” Shanti joked.

A cow and ram’s head in Hudson River Park, a sister sculpture to Adam’s Garden.Photo: Phil O’Brien

Shanti has been designing community-centered landscapes with CDHC for over a decade. I’m especially excited to see the culmination of years of planning around Adam’s Gardens, the community center, and the adjacent homes. , and it’s a really beautiful building. She has 200 affordable homes, including terraces and rooftops designed by me. ”

And now it also boasts a bull’s head. After the New York Butcher’s Dressed Meat Company building was demolished in the 1990s, members of Manhattan’s Community Board 4 battled to save the carved creature from destruction. , landed slaughterhouse artifacts in the Williamsburg Landmarks Preservation Commission warehouse over the years.

This 1906 photo of the newly constructed New York Butcher’s Dressed Meat Company building shows a bull’s head in situ on the upper floors. Photo: American Architect/Google

“CDHC has heard rumors that they will be auctioned. Joe said these are historic items for New York City and Hell’s Kitchen in particular and should not be given to the highest bidder. should be back in the neighborhood – it’s so nice, so cool,” said Shanti. CDHC bought the heads for $250 each. “I think there were two at CDHC and two at Hudson River Park,” she added, referring to the long-term storage area for cow and ram heads at Hudson River Park (now converted into a pickleball court). It has been).

However, moving the head to CDHC Park was a challenge in itself. “I think it weighs about a ton to a ton and a half,” says Shanti. “They are solid limestone.” The bull’s head now lies on its back on the park grounds, but inspections still need to be conducted before the giant sculpture can be drilled and safely mounted. I have.

Shanti Nagel of Yourway Contracting, Gasper Gaudino and Meral Marino of CDHC.Photo: Nati Kaez

Once complete, it will be the centerpiece of a memorable and meaningful community garden, open to all who receive a key. “The key is a way to keep maintenance low, but it’s also a way to provide access to the whole community. Anyone who lives or works in the neighborhood, he can get a key for $2,” he said. she says Shanti. “And adjacent to the gardens are affordable community rooms for people to use for classes, gatherings, or intimate weddings.”

When the slaughterhouse opened in 1906, it was described by the journal American Architect as “outperforming any facility on the continent.” Cattle and sheep arrived by riverboats and railroads that ran directly down 11th Street. Animals were taken to the roof and housed before being slaughtered on the fifth floor, with up to 2,800 slaughtered per day and carcasses processed on the lower floors. There was a room where meat could be frozen, and beef, pork, mutton, chicken and duck were generally sold on the first floor.

Among the building’s innovations was recognition of New York’s growing Jewish population. There was a dressing room for the rabbi on the floor below the slaughterhouse. Around the top he has six sculptures and survived with the building when it ceased operations in the 1950s and when it was taken over by the city in 1975. When the building was demolished in his early 1990s, only the head survived.

Also, for those without prior knowledge of the history of the bull bust, CDHC will provide an introduction to the work. CDHC’s Bill Kelley said:

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