The rear windows of 424-438 W. 33rd St. look down over the railroad tracks between Penn Station and the Hudson River. At one time signs lined the walls beneath each row of windows. A view of this wall dated 1927 appears on the New York Public Library's Digital Collections. Of these signs, as of Jan. 2008, only the barest fragments of Galvanotype Engraving Co. were still faintly visible beneath the top row (click for detail).
Galvanotype were printers specializing in photo engraving. They were in business from 1891 to 1935. They began at 80 Beekman St. (Click for ad from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle Almanac, 1892.) By 1893 they had moved to 18 Rose St., which was in downtown Manhattan under the Brooklyn Bridge. In Nov. 1894 the New York Times reported that property owners in this area had addressed a petition to the Board of Trustees of the Brooklyn Bridge asking that roadways on each side of the bridge be improved and opened to the public. Among the petitioners was Galvanotype Engraving Company. See Kevin Walsh's Street Necrology for more on Rose St. In 1899 the company moved to 216 William St. (further downtown, near Maiden Lane), and they were located at 424 W. 33rd St. from 1921 to 1935.
Working for Galvanotype from at least as early as 1898 until his retirement in the 1920s was Clarence Perry Browning (1867-1940). He is listed as president of the company from 1915 to 1918. His sons, Paul Babcock Browning (1892-1964) and Robert Stanton Browning (1894-1977), also worked at Galvanotype. Paul Browning was there in the late 1910s, but in the 1920 U. S. Census he was living with his father at Southold, Suffolk county, NY, and gave his occupation as "farmer on own account." Robert Browning was also living with the family at this time, and gave his occupation as "Photo Engraving Mgr." Southold is on the eastern tip of Long Island; this must have been a lengthy commute in 1920! Robert Browning seems to have taken his father's place in the company from some time in the 1920s until the business closed in 1935. Paul Browning is listed in the 1930 U. S. Census as a farmer still living in Southold. By this time he had his own family, and his father, age 61, and mother, Eva, age 59, were living with him. Clarence Browning's occupation was "none."
Family history information on Ancestry.com gives Perry as Clarence Browning's middle name. However, his death notice in the New York Times, 3 Sept. 1940, gives his middle name as Percy.
A photograph of the front side of 428-438 West 33rd Street is found in the collections of the Museum of the City of New York. This is a photo by the Wurts Bros., dated ca. 1919, and shows signs for several printing businesses.
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