She Could Get Millions to Turn This Factory Into Condos. She’s Not Selling.

Flavia Galuppo just inherited her father’s building, home to Etna Tool & Die. It’s now surrounded by boutiques and luxury condos, but she is determined not to sell.


Comments: 186

  1. Here is an example where the entire factory - everything should be kept exactly where it is into a museum. After communism feel in Eastern Europe, there are many such examples for it is one of the greatest sources of creativity for youth ! I ran a large human rights organization and sometimes we sat in old factories turned to museums to show people that "look this is how this or that was made before ! This is fascinating for it is also the way human rights developed - from basics to more complex "

  2. Museum idea is perfect in conjunction as a hands-on learning lab for eager NYC public high school students. A genuine in-tact Maker space.

  3. @Stanley Yes, that was my thought too. The Tenement Museum came to mind. And the two workers who learned to speak English while working at Etna Tool and Die ... Immigrants, industry and working people -- this building is part of the American story.

  4. @Stanley There's precedent for a machine tool museum: the wonderful American Precision Museum in Windsor Vermont. I visited ten years ago and they're still going strong. https://www.americanprecision.org/

  5. My dad was a tool and die maker. I wanted to be one too. In a prescient moment, he told me it's a dying career path. I became a picture framer and ultimately a computer programmer. This story both made me happy and sad.

  6. When we fail to train the hands of creative people and sell the tools used to translate their ideals into form and function...we, as a society, will lose the foundation that put men on the moon, ships on the sea and hinges on doors. And, a million things more!

  7. "The Real Estate To Die For Museum." It should contain not only the dies designed by this factory, but the flower molds, and button dies, and other confections of the great age of New York creative manufacturing before real estate land costs ate up the Big Apple and spit out the seeds.

  8. Ms. Galuppo doesn't have to sell for luxury condos, but she could consider turning the building into affordable housing. It would be a tribute and a wonderful legacy to her father to provide housing for families that need it.

  9. As someone who grew up in NYC, studied urban affairs and worked for local and state government, I have a soft spot for stories like these.The article is so well written that I can smell the factory oil! There are so many themes in this story —modernization, preservation, assimilation, and globalization, to name a few, that it’s impossible to miss the obvious— that we are one united world, interconnected and dependent on one another like never before. The machine parts will go to South America, says the owner, and fine a new home. But what will happen to the skill set of the employees? Clearly, that’s the bridge we have to close...retraining them and others in a similar predicament so that they can compete locally and we can compete globally. Too late to turn back.

  10. I think it would be great if the building could be made into an industrial museum, something where people can see the machines, some of their workers, and also see an artifact or two created by each. While the technology in the machines might be old, they provided a burst of versatility that's not easy to describe with words on a page. Keeping a vital link to the past intact is the mission of historical museums, and by this account that manufacturer has a lot of history to consider.

  11. @Jacob Sommer I couldn't agree more. There has to be a way to preserve this unique place. It would be wonderful to be able to turn it into a small museum where people could see things being made. As a museum, it could offer workshops and programs for school children. It could have a gallery to display metal art and gift shop where some of those door knobs, miniature Twin Towers and other small items might be sold. This is place and the machinist craft are too special to lose.

  12. I'm a welder in Denver and within the last year i've purchased a Wells/Index knee/vertical mill (still made in MI) and a Standard/Modern lathe (still made in Canada). The modern shops all have CNC but these old relics of machining will still live on in shops like mine. They are productive slices of history. I've learned a lot about welding over the years but now it's time for the machining side of things for my titanium bicycle frames. The machines will live on with new appreciative owners like myself and others.

  13. @Sammy Thanks Sammy , its nice to read a comment from someone who is a "welder" and not just another attorney or political writer who has never cut metal with an acetylene torch, wired a fuse box, turned a spindle in a lathe etc. As mentioned repeatedly in these comments and other articles , is the awareness that we have lost so much in throwing away our industries to China and not addressing the need for reviving domestic production. We need more engineers ( and less lawyers) : structural, design, electric, metallic, hydraulic etc. We need to design and build , we need to produce things , we need infrastructure. We can't buy everything from China.

  14. Good for her... she values the memory of her father beyond the salvage value of his estate. Her father obviously imbued her with a appreciation of the enterprise that gave them sustenance for so long. Additionally, she is also a good businesswoman, as the property’s value will only increase over time... there’s only a bit of undeveloped Manhattan remaining. We would be better off with more like her, and fewer of the transactional fast-buck types. Thanks NYT for an uplifting story.

  15. This place should be preserved as a National Monument to the Industrial Revolution and the Machine Age. Each tool in it attests to the vast, and often tacit, knowledge and immense skill of the machinists who worked there and throughout our nation; many of them immigrants bringing their knowhow and skills with them. Ideas of mastery, apprenticeship, working with material and thinking with your hands are fast disappearing. Imagine generations of young people coming here to learn life long lessons about the physics of everyday life.

  16. To me, this represents the "good old days", before the internet, cell phones and social media. Thanks Alex

  17. I would assume the carved plaster molds for the making of fake flowers might be wonderful decorative objects. Expect them to be featured in Martha Stewart's magazine sometime soon!

  18. Please, we need a second article! Talk to some of the retired tool and die makers. Take us through the process from design to production. Make a video tour. Bring a bunch of the workers together for a conversation. Make one of those special little sections for the Sunday paper. It would be a real gift to history.

  19. I couldn’t agree more, we have a ton of knowledge to give to a future generation.

  20. Glad this story was reported, but it's very sad for me to read. So much character and meaning in places like this as opposed to what's become of them all---condos for the rich. As always, some great reader comments, far better than I could ever express.

  21. NYC started to become "Disneyland on the Hudson" under Rudy Giuliani and that theme accelerated under Michael Bloomberg, who encouraged his rich friends to change Manhattan in particular from a borough of small real businesses to merely a high-rent residential island of chain stores, entertainment and restaurants. The charm of unique neighborhood businesses has been pillaged nearly completely by a union of the real estate robber barons and acquiescing City politicians. New York needs a new Jane Jacobs.

  22. @CM Businesses began to leave New York City in the 1960s and 1970s not just because they were finding tax havens in other states but also because they were finding it hard to get people to work for them and to do so responsibly. Some firms were hiring secretaries who, it turned out, couldn't spell. The young mechanical engineers in the airplane plant where my father was supervisor weren't doing their math correctly. Just the other day, I found an op-ed (was it Gail Collins who did such a thing?) in which "lie" and "lay" were all wrong. I was astonished. And she's a good writer. Not that I'm fond of the real estate developers whom you cite.

  23. I appreciate the devotion to the space. Even so, her father did her a grave disservice. This was his dream. He should have let her decide if it was also hers without burdening her with guilt. This happens all the time. My experience on this is seeing a family member guilt his wife into keeping the house he built after he died. She feels isolated there, growing old in a very rural place far from family. Another instance is a mother who guilts her adopted child into not researching her biological background. This should be the child’s decision. I respect the passion here. This passion makes our world better but we have to be generous with our children and remember our dreams need not be theirs.

  24. @Scribbles, maybe she'd see selling as a betrayal of those who devoted so much of their lives to the place.

  25. My dad worked in NYC factories and I've been in several, some while they were working factories and others after being converted to residential or other uses. It's a disappearing part of New York's history. There were and still are many great craftsmen in New York. I would love to explore this one. As for the lead shoes, I wonder who the 'clients' were. Cement takes a long time to set.

  26. @Marc: The right cement can harden sufficiently in the few minutes it takes for a short boat ride.

  27. This is Nina Castro: I'm given, much too much these days to a grim satisfaction about the bottoming out of our collective inability to make anything (not counting "art clothes", and such frippery). Maybe when the availability of indoor plumbing, by which we define ourselves as first world people, begins to be spotty, we'll wake up and wonder why. Won't be for a lack of plumbers, I don't think, but parts and knowledge about them. I know it's just an NYC phenom for the most part, but I can imagine the rude awakening.

  28. Because I believe in the importance of vocational education, I chose in late middle age to get a graduate degree in what is now called Career and Technical Education or CTE. (My thesis advisor specifically prohibited my use of the term "industrial arts". Sign of the times) I feel compelled to respond to the elegiac tone of this sweet article: manufacturing in general and tool and die work in particular ARE NOT DEAD in 21st century America. Just take a look at any of the white papers which are periodically produced by The National Association of Manufacturers and Deloitte and which deal with what has come to be known as the "skills gap". 100,000's of manufacturing jobs are going unfilled and many of these jobs are seriously high tech, creative and well-compensated. Yes, the technology currently housed in this shop is prehistoric. Those who want to see what advanced manufacturing looks like and want to get their minds blown should visit the International Manufacturing Technology Show every even year in Chicago. A big part of the challenge is to get YOUNG people interested in advanced manufacturing. To do that requires starting at a very early age. So, here is my modest proposal: honor the legacy of Etna Tool and Die by turning that shop into a charter high school focused exclusively on advanced manufacturing skills e.g. machining, coding, electronics, pneumatics, hydraulics, math, robotics. Easy for me to say but if I had the money, I'd buy the building and do it myself.

  29. @Tiva Diva -- I had the same thought: What an excellent opportunity to not only preserve history but also to encourage and nurture advanced manufacturing ... and craftsmanship! And innovation! And inventiveness! Like you, if I had a gazillion dollars, I'd do what you suggest. Maybe someone in NYS or NYC government will see this (fine) piece and be inspired to DO something about this NoHo gem.

  30. @Tiva Diva Ah, you inspire me. I want to go back to school and get a degree in CTE. I believe that pursuit would bring happiness to my door.

  31. @Tiva Diva: I would also help.

  32. Great article. Would love for the Times to publish more along similar lines. Another NoHo business I've always been curious about is Alpert's Newspaper Delivery on Great Jones.

  33. “Mr. Liang simply likes to come by. “This is my second home,” he said after a cup of tea at his desk. As for what he does now at the shop, Mr. Liang explained, “I take a look at machines.”” Slowing down and appreciating the beauty of the simple things in life. I imagine Mr Liang is able to reminiscence on his entire life in those few quiet moments with the machines.

  34. @Dorian, a textbook definition of "Bittersweet"

  35. Thank you for this story. I'm sitting on the sidelines, cheering on Ms. Galuppo as she holds onto her father's legacy. Not everyone wants to satisfy the gaping maws of the rapaciously rich real estate developers of New York City. What would they do with this piece of New York history? Build another shadow-casting tower to house unidentified multinational LLC's in a neighborhood that was once populated by real New Yorkers. I wish more people had the gumption shown by Ms. Galuppo. And to the uber-rich who want to take everything and make it exclusively for them and theirs: Quit stomping on the neck of the little guy. We're not going to take it anymore!

  36. @Regina Valdez... what gumption do you speak of? Factory is closed, equip will be sold. She is just holding on to a memory. I did the same thing. ultimately property will be sold and she will live comfortably the rest of her life with the memories. and it doesn't sound like she is a tool and die maker.

  37. @Rufus just maybe she is comfortable right now,without ostentation

  38. While I admire her sentiments regarding 42-44 Bond Street, she really would be foolish not to sell the building at this point. It's worth at least $7M if not much more. The current property taxes on the building are a whopping $283,092/year.

  39. @NYC Taxpayer Yes, $283.092 dollars to pay for a half day’s worth of welfare checks.

  40. @NYC Taxpayer The article does not mention the other properties the Galuppo’s owned (still own?) in the area. If Ms. Galuppo has picked up any of her mother’s business acumen, she’ll be just fine. Mr. Galuppo was a sweetheart. His wife was a tough and exacting business person and landlord. I really admired her, even when she was driving me a little nuts. (Office manager for a business, that rented from the Galuppo’s, in the 90’s)

  41. She had the meritorious qualifying genius to pick the right father. Just like ER II and DJT I.

  42. @Blackmamba, compared to your other writings, this one's especially disappointing. "Phoning-it-in" would be a charitable assessment.

  43. @Blackmamba This comment is uncalled for. Much better if people did not bring babies into the world until education, job, and spouse could be secured -- in that order. Only then should children be conceived and only the number of children that can be reared to responsible adulthood. Then everyone could have the meritorious qualifying genius to pick the right father.

  44. You mean, her father worked really hard, married, worked still harder, and only then procreated? Easy enough for all children in that case to be born privileged.

  45. My dad, a tool and die engineer for decades, would have loved this place.

  46. @B I can smell it from the pictures: oil and old cigarette smoke.

  47. Who'd a thunk Warren Beatty would be living with Chuck Close? Not me … and I don't even know who Chuck Close is!

  48. @Thomas Murray They are not living together; they're neighbors. Look up Chuck Close and learn something; he is a well-known artist/painter/photographer and was the subject of the cover story on a Sunday NYT magazine recently.

  49. @luckygal I know that they ain't roomies -- but I thought it fun to interpret the loosely-constructed reference to their living quarters that way. And I know well of Mr. Close -- which is not to suggest that I prize his work … but I thought the reference that I didn't know him, or of him, added a fitting grace note to my TOMfoolery. In other news, I have learned this much: luckygal (in what was never more than the second city it only once was) is not so lucky as to have gained enough 'in the way' of perception and reading comprehension to recognize even a not-so-sly bit of humor.

  50. I salute James Gallupo and the clever, talented people who helped make Etna Tool and Die a success. His story is quintessentially american: Intelligent, hard working immigrant creates business producing high quality usefull items and offers good jobs to people like himself. It is beyond tragic that his business became obsolete by the relentless push for cheaper goods and services lacking soul and pride of quality. Instead of celebrating Etna thriving with a crew of fairly paid hard working immigrants and Americans, we now can by cheap trash from China in places like Costco and Best Buy. Not only have we wasted away our pride and productivity, but also the dignity of the jobs and even the buildings that housed them. My heart goes out to Ms. Gallupo for her sad task to resolve the remains of Etna. At the least, I hope the building will sport a beautiful bronze historic marker celebrating the role her father and his company played in making America great the first time.

  51. @David Lima How do you know James Galuppo was an immigrant? I didn't see any mention of that in the article.

  52. This article reminded me of my Grandfather's and Father's family "bookbinding" shop on East 23rd Street. I enjoyed traveling downtown with my Dad to the shop. Reading the story and looking at the photos, it brought back my memories of these trips. My family was manufacturing! We have given up our collective ability to do so. It is so unfortunate that many New Yorkers, and Americans too, just don't make things. Of course, it also goes without saying that the loft building was converted to a residential use.

  53. Passing on the actual making of things to ones successor is a well known milestone in the final stages of empire.

  54. Lovely story of American ingenuity and craftsmanship, but she will sell ultimately. Hopefully, some of that history will make its way into the new building.

  55. Kudos to Ma Galuppo for honoring her father’s wishes and not selling out a thing of great value. The history and humanity of that business is beyond price. I would love to visit the space if it became a museum.

  56. It is great that Ms. Galuppo can afford to take her time in disposing of the old business. But, Etna replaced some other business (or perhaps residences) when it was established and it will be replaced one day.

  57. @Old Blue How romantic.

  58. Wish I could spend my retired afternoons there. Yes, the manufacturing age, the second industrial revolution is nostalgic for many of us. We were raised on physical labor, using our hands. The newest industrial revolution is upon us full force, and it has changed society. It's been a tough transition for me, someone in love with the trades. Multi tasking is a lost skill, as is practical knowledge. I work with so many college students who not only lack practical skills, they lack the desire to attain them. What's next?

  59. Just think, Warren Beatty and Chuck Close are getting near their expiration dates. What will happen to their spaces? Oh, I think we already know.

  60. I have a hard time believing that this can't continue to run as a going concern. Businesses need things like what they produce and having it local has so many benefits. Everything is paid for, land, building and contents. So you just have things like utilities as well as the general costs of running a business. Have no idea but I'd bet that both NYC and NY impose heavy taxes on the business like this. Which makes it that much harder to be profitable.

  61. @Mark:"I have a hard time believing that this can't continue to run as a going concern. Businesses need things like what they produce and having it local has so many benefits. " These are the sort of jobs that Trump supporters in flyover country are demanding. They are also the kind of jobs that folks on the OP-ED boards say are obsolete and replaced either by automation or supplied by cheaper off-shore suppliers. Now comes the NYT that gives us a folksy "Fight the powers!" piece. Around and around it goes, the NYT's liberal perpetual motion machine.

  62. With CNC machinery today the Bridgeports pictured are destined to small one off shops or hobbyists. Just getting riggers in to move the machinery, or even one piece is an expensive task. Freight is a killer. Much of the equipment shown is three phase electric power, and Central and South America are a mishmash of voltages and frequency. Some industrial machinery broker who has cheap warehousing available will end up scooping it up.

  63. @Lawrence I’m glad it won’t be sold for scrap. Most people see something old and don’t realize it’s not obsolete.

  64. @Lawrence... you are right. the rigging and the freight are going to be a killer. unfortunately, that stuff is going to be given away for nothing. it's the skilled tradesmen that were valuable. and they are gone.

  65. Kudos to Ms Galuppo. Businesses are part of any city's culture and heritage. Just as the arts, or architecture, they are part of what define a city's character. In an era where the U.S. hardly makes anything anymore, it's good to see her preserve a business from a time when America made the best products in the world. Condos …. is there anything less interesting in a city's composite sketch?

  66. Would be great to see the city partner with Ms. Galuppo to turn the space into a training venue; that would help Ms. Galuppo honor not only her fathers wishes but also his craft.

  67. @Dash *father's wishes...

  68. This is the saddest thing I've read in a very, very long time.

  69. I admire that she wants to honor her father's life and wishes, but unless she's going to turn it into a museum or school (both of which seem massive undertakings that would require significant outside funding) she should consider selling the space and setting up a scholarship foundation for those who want to pursue a vocational career. Surely, the idea of helping hundreds or thousands of young people find a trade and support a family is a better way to honor her father than an empty, outdated building in a very trendy neighborhood.

  70. Several years ago I found Etna when the handle came off of my stainless steel stovetop Bialetti moka pot. I couldn't stand the idea of throwing away the beautiful object that had been the center of my morning ritual for years and years. I brought it to Ms. Galuppo and marveled at the machines in her shop while a man welded my handle back on stronger than ever for $20. It was such a great feeling. It sounds silly, but in a world of disposable plastic junk, it felt wholesome to get a nice appliance repaired by someone who took pride in his work. I still have the pot and don't expect to ever need to replace it. Etna is a treasure, thanks for the story.

  71. @Sean There was a good welder beneath the overpass on Coney Island Avenue that welded my metal bird bath back together. He's gone now. Also the glass guy on Coney Island Avenue, who'd do a round glass tabletop then and there and chat with you about the old boiler stand that he's helping to turn into a tea table. He's gone. On the Upper East Side, maybe on East 72nd, was an absolute artist of a smith, who fixed my mother's brass lamp when the arm for the metal shade broke and, later, my grandmother's silver coffee pot when the lid came off. He was brilliant. I guess he lost his lease; I wonder where he is now. Whom can you trust nowadays to do that sort of job?

  72. What a superbly well-written piece. What a difficult and wonderful task Ms. Galuppo has now, to honor her father's wishes and transition her building and machines into a new life. It sounds like she'll do an excellent job of it. Follow up in a year, please.

  73. I worked in the museum exhibition world. Etna Tool an Die was a CLASSIC. I also renovated lofts on that block and the building was notable. Real industrial SOHO/Downtown history. Anyone else find it ironic that the Times published an article recently about how things aren't made in the U.S. anymore because the can't find tool and die machinists and shops for demand.

  74. I might also add that Andy Warhol was a fixture in that neighborhood, owning property on the next block up on Great Jones Street. Jean Michele Basquiat died there while staying at Andy's place. I can picture them knowing Mr. Gallupo as that's the way downtown was then - artists next to factories and their worlds crossed paths a alot. Artists had/have the shops they live near fabricate things for them. Andy didn't call his studio "the Factory" for nothing. He felt he was one of them - a "Producer".

  75. @Ignatius J. Reilly From a generation of workers who were born with their sleeves rolled up.

  76. Looks and sounds like a fascinating place; I would love to walk around there. So much to see and learn. My condolences to Ms. Galuppo on the loss of her incredible father. I hope she takes all the time she needs to decide what to do next. I understand how the thought of selling for a condo conversion sounds heartbreaking given the love and history there.

  77. Back when people actually made things and didn't just stick their hand in your pocket to earn a living. I have a friend that has a similar situation, he bought the Manhattan building his business is in 25 years ago for less than one million, and now it's worth tens of millions. But this friend spent the better part of 35 years building that business, loves his work and does not want to retire, so the wolves knock at the door, and he simply says no. Some things are just more important than money.

  78. When Ms Galuppo eventually sells up, which regrettably, she will have to. I hope she realises most of that machinery is priceless. There will always be a niche manufacturer somewhere in need of a "thingamajig".

  79. @ApplecountyI have owned several shops. That machinery is junk. It's not old enough for a museum and not profitable enough to make a living with. All those products came from people...not machines. And the skilled people are gone. As an old toolmaker I still work part time just to create things but there are very few of us left.

  80. @George "As an old toolmaker I still work part time just to create things but there are very few of us left." That is part of my point.

  81. @Applecounty I'm a niche manufacturer. I design using free online software then upload my design for instant pricing from other niche manufacturers, who these days use lasers to cut metal or make parts with 3D printers or ultraviolet cured epoxies, etc. Prototyping in just about any medium is revolutionary right now. I historically worked with my hands, and I love old tools and machines, but old machining tools are outdated. I recommend "The Perfectionists" by Simon Winchester if you want a romantic tour of how we got to where we are in machining and precision. It's also a very exciting time to be a thingamajig maker because the new tools allow anyone to become one.

  82. As noble as her cause it, it's just a matter of time and money before she sells

  83. Respect and admiration to those, often humble and unsung, skilled in the timeless art of making things, which is at the very core of our human nature and is yet sadly fading, smothered in these times of empty words and empty brains.

  84. Have an auction. Sell the place and move out. Times change and all things come to an end.

  85. tell her to call Rockaway Recycling, they will place a dumpster there and she can throw all that worthless junk into it. Very few tool and die makers in the USA, those that are left ( after China wiped them all out ) won't use old equipment like she has in that old building, they all use CNC (computer controlled machine tools). In the 80's and 90's I scrapped out so many machine shops it was sad. Lot of banks too.

  86. I wonder how this would fit into the Green New Deal. Is it time for the use of steel, a heavy polluter, to go by the wayside?

  87. @George Recycled paper houses and paper cars driving over corrugated cardboard bridges. That'll be interesting.

  88. @George - only if it is replaced by something that lasts as long and pollutes less to make.

  89. I can see the condo now: having one of the dye machines in the lobby and black and white photos of the factory floor hung on the wall to give the building “charm.” There has to be some tipping point where there’s just too many million dollar condos and they all go empty and it all crashes. And then turning old factories into “charming” condos will become turning condos into new factories (run by robots).

  90. I was a young woman when my father’s factory on Lexington Avenue between 27th and 28th Street was closing on his death. It was a monogramming business named after me filled with industrial sewing machines, walks of oak drawers for tepees of threads and kindred Irish women sitting by the dusty floor to ceiling windows facing Lex doing hand embroidery. He picked up and delivered to Finchley and DePinna daily, proud of monogramming for JFK on garments from the inside-out. My brother closed it down, and it is too late for me to hold onto anything. I understand why it’s important to find a way to move on and cherish what you’re told is a dying industry that gave life to your family.

  91. Thank you to Alex Traub, and his editor for this obituary, and to Ms. Galuppo for her reverence of her father's work, and her apparent deliberance in considering the possibilities of its legacy. I grew up in a town that "made things" once, and I watched as it all went away, and then left nothing but unaffordable real estate for the one to ten percenters, and opportunities to mow their lawns, clean their homes, shuffle their paper work, and wait on them.

  92. @Class of '66 . . . and, ironically, only a very small percentage of THEM actually produce anything of value.

  93. Time to go, bulldoze and be done...it's the 21st Century, yea history's fun, but life changes... we now have the NYT's story, that's about the amount people really care to know about it.

  94. @JoeYeah, Joe, pave paradise, put up a parking lot. These amazing places are a kind of paradise. Bland glass boxes of overpriced apartments are not.

  95. @Joe Not really, she has a choice like everyone else and that must be honored and respected regardless of anyone else’s non-applicable opinions or for that matter business.

  96. Life and happiness is priceless, everything else is worthless.

  97. This is truly a tragedy, that more attention isn't focused on the loss of the unique and valuable skills required to do this work and the opportunity such places create for training workers with such valuable skills. As well, the companies that make the equipment in such places are not as easy to find as they once were because the demand has moved on. This is all a tragedy...

  98. Mmmmm. I can almost the wonderful smell the grease and oil of that space.

  99. a few of these classic machines should be housed in an american worker museum. henry mercer in doylestown,pa had the foresight to collect tools of the trade in late 19th and 20th centuries for shoemakers, candlemakers,ironworkers,. the display is fantastic... just as an assortment of these tools would be glorious to step into the past manufacturing of america!

  100. @pamela There are worker museums. There's a beauty of a machine shop at Hagley Hall in Delaware, site of the first Du Pont gunpowder mills. There is an older, smaller one in Old Sturbridge Village. To me, the shop at Hagley seems almost modern, in that both my father and father-in-law began life as machinists. Dad eventually became a mechanical engineer, and my father-in-law taught shop in Brooklyn. When they had to, they really could make things. Whenever I have to do some sort of project requiring imagination and measuring, their voices echo in my head.

  101. I never heard of Chuck Close, but Warren Beatty is a fitting metaphor about time moving on, along with all things that once had their day in the sun.

  102. Truth is sweeter than fiction. What a wonderful story, wonderful people and wonderful history. Other of your readers are right: please expand! No need to do a decades later multitude of "regret" pieces as you appear to be doing with overlooked women and minorities on your obituary pages. Do it now.

  103. Seems incredibly selfish at a time when people are in desperate need of affordable housing capacity in one of the world's largest cities with a really wide wealth gap.

  104. @Chris there is no way this would turn into affordable housing...

  105. This is sadness. I only visited that area once in my life, almost 30 years ago, when I was shopping around for an old bandsaw, I think from a place that was on Lafayette Street a block away. I remember the feeling of awe I had in seeing place in New York that actually manufactured real stuff. It was like another world. The buildings themselves looked like grand stately monuments to manufacturing. I think it was that moment that gave me an understanding of it and respect for it. I have run a very small business for thirty years, and I did my best over the years to give business (mainly for producing boxes for my products) to the oldest manufacturers I could find near me. They were always like a wonderland to me - places filled with what looked like Rube Goldberg devices all doing intricate cutting and folding and gluing (horse glue of course!) all of them run by one large motor spinning pulleys held up high throughout the factory running every single machine. And the best part was they they relished making the oddest thing for you. The challenges were what made their work interesting and satisfying. There is one little machine shop in my town run by one grizzled old man (who took it over from his more grizzled old father). He's like a lifeblood to a whole lot of people who need some odd piece made. I remember once talking to the local arts matron brush his existence off with a wave of her hand "Oh, he's not important" she declared. As if.

  106. @Jim Cricket. Amen. God help us.

  107. This story is the story of America! America made things once. Things that went around the world. Those factories were needed during World War II and they made other things that helped win the war. Now we don't make much and if we were to need to gear up again, we wouldn't be able to. We need to decide before its too late, will we be builders or buyers. Will we lead or follow. This story is important in making that choice. We need to chose well!

  108. I think many of you are lamenting your own shortcomings. If you want to make something, make it. It will be very fulfilling. In my opinion, however, lamenting the passing of a place like this is a mistake. Italy, where I am now, has retained many such places and traditions, and when they have a market of clients who appreciate their work and can pay for it, the chairs of Chiavari, for instance, it all works. But if a place or a craft has lost its relevance, it is time to move on. There is nothing more depressing to young people than a bunch of old people with lots of power and money who refuse to let go.

  109. @Thomas, they aren't making "buggy whips". Their still-critical skills are being emulated by CNC equipment . . . and when the computers fail, knowing only how to run the software that has has the "knowledge" to do the actual machining just ain't gonna cut it.

  110. As someone who isn't old, your comment makes me sad. You sound dead set on a disposable future and don't value what's around you right now. Also, you seem to assume everyone who is old has wealth and power, which is not the truth.

  111. I have been slowly making my way through “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” by Jane Jacobs over the last few months. I have several books going at a time, so each takes a while, plus it is wonderful so I am savoring it. Anyway, I think about urban planning and neighborhood diversity a lot differently now than I used to. I wonder how Jacobs would react to this. On the one hand, it’s a building that sits empty of people and use, yet on the other, I’m sure she would groan in disgust at the idea of replacing it with yet another building full of condos for rich people. A vocational school sounds like a wonderful use and a great way to get an infusion of the unique energy that a group of diverse young people would bring to the area. I hope there are some smart, contemplative urban planners who are consulted when it comes time to figure out how to best convert this space when that time comes.

  112. @BC A voc-Ed school! Brilliant!

  113. I grew up in an old mill town in New England. I actually know what tool and die makers do. I had family members, friends and neighbours who worked for decades in these highly skilled trades. Thank you for this inspiring glimpse of our vanishing past. Ironically, without Ms. Galuppo's oversight and interest in preserving her father's wishes, this property would become condos for 1% "easy money" wall street financiers replacing highly skilled workers. This story would just be another tragic reminder of America's long decline. In contrast, the tool and die industry in Germany and other leading countries are doing quite well. Of course, the industry has evolved over the decades, as it should. Most important it is an example of countries that support and value workers and their skills.

  114. We've lived around the corner from the Etna building for almost 40 years, and have watched the indigenous neighborhood residents evolve from rough and tumble CBGB punks, Bowery lost souls and, brilliant emerging artists like Basquiat, Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe morph into a new generation of monied arrivistes. Most recently we've seen the former Woman's Shelter on Bond & Lafayette turned into ultra luxury housing, and the Men's Shelter on East 3rd Street right behind the luxurious Bowery Hotel can't be far behind. The concept of repurposing an irreplaceable building like 42-44 Bond into an affordable residence for arts-related lower Manhattanites would be an inspirational revitalizing addition to the neighborhood. The story of artists (like Basquiat and Close) serving as catalysts for the regeneration (read gentrification) of this neighborhood is oft told. A reasonably priced co-op or rental option for today's generation of artists, musicians, theater professionals, writers and dancers would be a great service not only to the arts, but to the city proper. The "Artist In Residence" program should make every effort to support the goal of providing safe, affordable housing for artists now hopelessly priced out not only of Manhattan, but of Brooklyn and Long Island City as well. Some brave, concerned soul (Ms. Galuppo) might consider becoming a (housing) patron of the arts.

  115. @Howard maybe metal arts its already fitted out for such usage

  116. If Ms. Galuppo were to turn Etna Tool & Die into a museum, I would surely enjoy visiting it. What a remarkable vestige of America History!

  117. @Jennifer Yes, I would love to get inside and get an education! It would be perfect for school groups.

  118. Think of the tv film industry. This looks like a great space for location shoots. You can get lots of money for renting space for shoots.

  119. I knew a guy whose family owned a tool & die shop in Long Beach, CA area. They ultimately closed due to overseas competition. Customers were able to buy finished products from China for less than what they were paying for raw materials.

  120. Sure, Ms Galuppo is your heroine today but as soon as a NYT-endorsed wealth tax is enacted she'll be forced to fire everyone and sell out to the condo developers. I sure the editorial then will justify by saying "You didn't build that factory."

  121. @Ambrose Rivers... obviously you didn't read the article. Shop is closed. No longer operating. All equip will be sold.

  122. The Perfect use would be to reinvent as a maker's space

  123. Please do not sell the casts for the "hundreds of flowers".Go back into production of these.You could hire the 2 former machinists.There would be a huge market for these!

  124. Having grown up working in a similar place, I know that you would all spend a few minutes looking around and then leave, impressed, but not wanting to return. Why would you? It had its day. Let it go. Same with sawmills, flour mills, textile factories . . . neat stuff, but things are different now for a reason. Maybe the system we have now will break and we’ll go back to these old ways, but I doubt it. It’s time for a change. Museum? No. Trade school focusing on new technologies? Maybe. How about a nice garden?

  125. Old ways? We may use computer controlled milling machines nowadays, but basic machining skills are far from obsolete as they are vital to the production of molds for plastics, medical devices, and, yes, iphones, which have bodies made from machined aluminum. Visit any mold or machine shop today and they will tell you that there is a shortage in this country of skilled machinists, and this is a very well paid vocation. We have lost sight of some very critical skills which are vital to our economy.

  126. @Thomas I just took machining at Technical College here in Milwaukee Wisconsin. We started out on manual Bridgeport vertical mills, like the ones pictured in the article. Such Bridgeport style mills are still being made and bought. The point of starting on the manual machines is to understand the basics. Manual machines are also still used in industry for certain jobs and 1-off parts.

  127. What a melancholy story about a bygone era of hard work building and creating. Kind of reminds of the article the NYT did about a typewriter repair place somewhere in lower Manhattan.

  128. Had myself a little cry here at how beautiful it is that Ms. Galuppo is spending the time to honor the humanity and creative problem solving of her fathers workplace. Her thoughtfulness in the future placement of this equipment and the tenderness of his former employees towards Etna is touching. It is the polar opposite of what we usually read in an owner/employee relationship in these times and also what an heir might do quickly with a highly valued property. Thanks for this heartwarming story about what seems like an inventive NYC manufacturer with heart and business acumen. Viva the spirit of Etna!

  129. This now-closed company is emblematic of a long-lost New York; a city filled with small shops and factories. Many decades back, those factories were a good place for new immigrants to find their first job, right off the boat, and to work and earn money before moving west in the US. During World War II, NY and its factories were a critical element of the US as "Arsenal of Democracy." Indeed, many components of the ships built at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, New York Shipbuilding and more came from these machine shops. Or just consider the architectural decoration that abounds in NY buildings... Those curved handrails and eye-catching door-hinges. There was a time when such things didn't all come out of a 40-foot container packed in China.

  130. @Arctic Fox So agree. A drive through SoHo finds empty store fronts, testament to landlords seeking higher and higher rents. Many of the stores are national chains, not the unique owner-occupied businesses that made NYC so great. And the buildings being sacrificed for soulless steel monuments to wealth could be found anywhere. Having just visited a small village in Italy full of original architecture that has been repurposed or merely continues to function as originally created, I was reminded by how much we lose every time something is torn down. So this is progress???

  131. @Arctic Fox Years ago when I was running a horse boarding and training facility and regularly riding two or three horses a day I went to a small shop in New York City to get measured for my first pair of custom made riding boots. They cost about $200 which was a lot of money in those days. Years later when life changes and a car accident ended my riding days I sold those boots for almost as much as they had cost me!

  132. @Arctic Fox indeed. my father was one of those immigrants finding work in a machine shop, and was able to provide us with a solid middle-class life that my college-graduate daughter can now only dream of. it is too heartbreaking.

  133. Before you junk these beautiful machines try to sell them on Craig’s list. There are many people who are always looking for old machines. I have bought and sold them on Craig’s list . The beauty of this is that they will go to someone who will really love them and make things with them instead of ending up in a museum or melted into stainless steel. Also try Make Magazine or a local Make group. There must be many in the NY area. I also thought of that article recently about how Apple can’t even get screws made in The U.S. It is one of the biggest reason that China is successful and we are sinking fast. There resources are phenomenal. That and the type of people who made such rude remarks about this remarkable woman who lives to a higher value system.

  134. Over development is over rated. It's doing its best to ruin the character of NYC.

  135. Before I read the story of Ms.Galuppo, I read the Sunday routine of Arielle Charas (social media influencer) and her husband (real estate) - it couldn’t have been more antagonistic. There the probably most boring, predictable sunday routine ever doing nothing else than showing off her seemingly perfect life - here a woman full of idealism who just does the opposite: keeping originality and substance alive, not going for the low hanging fruit of fast money.

  136. Those machines hold not only history but VALUE to others in the business, and yes, there are many of us still out there. They look lovingly cared for. Just the accessories and tools could give a small business new hope and a bright future. Many small, start up machine shops would LOVE to get their hands on those Bridgeport mills and shapers and other jewels in there. I know, I would.

  137. @Douglas J Rizzo: Good to read here that someone can spot a Bridgeport. The best comments here are about getting the machines to a teaching place. Ms. Galuppo if you are reading these comments, I hope you are persevering while you work the phones through your brief five minutes of fame. I hope Mayor Blasio's and Governor Cuomo's people are listening, to try to build on this moment. Bring the students to the machines, or the machines to the students. Mr. Mayor, Mr. Governor are you there ?

  138. Or he may have said "Why not?"

  139. I read an article recently about why Apple has had to go to China to assemble one of their products, because they were unable to find a domestic manufacturer that could produce a particular screw in sufficient quantities. I believe had Mr. Galuppo still been alive, he would look at his swiss screw machines, smile and say "piece of cake".

  140. Can this shop be saved?

  141. So what is the plan ? I mean seriously, what is the plan ? Just going to try to preserve an empty space, where nothing is no longer being done, in a affluent area ? What is the plan ?

  142. More than three times in the last few months has the subject of the need for what might be now known as alternative education come up at dinner.very few places now can teach welding, milling, plumbing, machine shop subjects. I would love to set up a school that does if I could find folks that could teach and let students practice making things and parts that are useful in making other things. I still have a metal wedge that I made in shop class at, yes, Stuyvesant HS. Whenever I see or use it, I thank the powers that even there, we were taught "Shop." What a great idea! Let's bring it back. We do not all need to go to college. Ideas, Thought process and Intelligence are not just learned at school.

  143. @Wilder I am a daughter of a shop teacher. I was dismayed and shocked when recently I took a part time job at a local high school and was told shop was replaced by tech. However, the smell of the shop class took me back to my childhood. That smell was the smell of my father's shop class and our garage where he built much of our home's furniture.

  144. @Wilder i believe great american thinker eric hoffer covered that in his books,not sure think it was ''in our time'' ..much of our knowledge base is stored away in people over 65 many of whom would welcome a chance to work a bit by passing on their skills to a younger generation ..not just here but in construction trades he thought it would be an economical way to build low income housing harvesting the knowledge of seniors and the energy of youth

  145. There are others like her but few and far between. In the end money talks and blank blank walks. We have at least one hold out in Greenpoint. He owns an army and navy type store and can get 25-35 million for the land but loves retail and will probably die there.

  146. Thank you for this wonderful article! My father was a partner in a die cutting (not tool and die but they cut paper products like those 1960s flowers that everyone stuck on cars and windows, vinyl album covers, folding and embossing boxes etc) company on Hudson Street that was the family business of his best friend. I recently walked by and saw that the building has been converted into expensive apartments/lofts with a doorman, and it just made me sad. The business offices and the rooms with the presses and skids of paper products were on several floors the building. The smell of the place--paper and plywood--is something I will never forget. I worked there in summers during high school running the old fashioned plug-line switchboard, fielding the calls from gruff guys with unapologetic noo yawk accents and expletive-laden messages. Daily expeditions to Kenny's lunch joint across the street or for the memorable minestrone at the counter at Luncheonette on the corner of 6th Ave), stopping at Vesuvio's for bread to take home. I think they're all gone now and so my is father. But at least I can remember it all.

  147. @Not Sure: Thanks for those cinematic vignettes -- evocative of places I've worked.

  148. I could spend days just wandering through the shop and taking in the smell and the look and the touch of things. Machines are fascinating but I never want to know how they work; I prefer to think of the machines as magic and the workers as magicians. If I lived in NYC I would be asking for a tour.

  149. Where I live there are many small tool and die shops that do a brisk and profitable business making small parts used in airplane manufacture, you name it. They are the top of the local food chain in terms of income, and invest in their communities accordingly. I imagine that would be possible in NYC as well, given a decent business plan and some ambition. The return might not be top shelf immediately, but over time, who knows?

  150. I had the very same thought!

  151. Etna should consider donating its machines to Brooklyn Technical High School.

  152. @BTHS Alum How long ago did you graduate Brooklyn Tech? My dad went there in the years before Pearl Harbor but left as soon as he could in order to enlist. What makes me think the Brooklyn Tech kids today don't work on giant metal lathes anymore?

  153. My husband is a fourth generation pressman. His heart broke as he watched all of the print shops on Varick and Hudson shutter when he was in his 20s. He's 40 years old now and he has been talking lately about opening a tool & die shop so that he can make parts not only for old presses, but other vintage machines and automobiles. He refuses to watch his trade and others die. He is a maker of things and he is hell-bound to ensure this craft lives on. I'm pretty sure he'd take a bullet for Flavia Galuppo after reading this. Long live trade.

  154. @Good I remember all those printers on Varick Street. They're not there anymore. Just this past autumn, I went to the building to visit the outfit where I used to get my kids' little literary magazine published every year, in order to get a job done, and not only was it not there, but there wasn't a printer left. The website was still online, but it was just a ghost.

  155. Ms. Galuppo if you are reading these comments, I hope you are persevering while you work the phones through your brief five minutes of fame. I hope Mayor Blasio's and Governor Cuomo's people are listening, so to try and build on this moment. Bring the students to the machines, or the machines to the students. Mr. Mayor, Mr. Governor are you there ?

  156. I am pretty sure DeBlasio and Cuomo are not listening!!

  157. Wow! I'd sure like to get my hands on some of those machine tools - a Bridgeport horizontal or knee mill would be great! I hope those tools find someone who can put them to use.

  158. A sweet story about the mostly unsung people who actually make things that have utility in the real, physical world. The polar opposite of these folks are the pols in DC who produce noise, hot air and worst of all: discord. For thirty years I was in industrial sales and was almost daily on the shop floor of places like this where something really special was happening. I felt lucky to get a close look at operations such as this. Places where a couple thousands of an inch in tolerances meant the difference between a viable product and a reject headed for the recycling bin.

  159. I'm grateful for this article and the beautiful photographs on the space and machinery. It would have been interesting to learn more about the background of the owners and the industry; how they got into the business, how many other such companies were there in the 'hey-day' of the tool in die industry in NYC (or were they alone?), what generation of immigrants were they and from where? Presumably, the name, Etna , does give a clue.

  160. That is how Trump became a billionaire....stubborn persistence. KUDOS to her. In the new era of Trump, the economy is booing. Why should she sell?

  161. But the Donald's persistence lies almost exclusively both in countersuing contractors to whom he owes money and in borrowing money from foreign banks. And from foreign countries who need to launder money. Some persistence.

  162. @Steve Look closely here dear Steve. She’s trying to make a decision based on ETHICS. Nothing to do with the likes of Trumpocrats.

  163. This would make a very unique museum for NYC!!

  164. Great article. Ms. Galuppo should take her time and gently find a way to preserve the heritage while divesting herself of the machines. As a percussionist I would be very interested in a tour! See are always looking for "found objects" that make great sound. In the 80s, I was in a Toronto rock band that rehearsed after hours in a small tool and dye factory called Brown's Pattern Works. It was fascinating.

  165. This story brought tears to my eyes and yes, times change, innovation finds new ways to make things and serve the needs of the population. What is touching and missing in a few of the comments is what is at the heart of this story and being lost in society...the respect for the "old". Whether it is a business, a tool & die, a printing business or all the hundreds of elderly people in our society...somehow we have lost the respect for what the "aged out" industries & people have brought to our society, our lives and our innovations. I think it is a lovely tribute to her father to at least "try" to treat something so valuable to him, in place, if only for a mourning period. Maybe I'm sentimental and just feel that these elderly industries & old folks deserve the recognition they have earned. Many made mistakes, many grew & learned but they are all part of creating the foundation for how we got to today.

  166. The building lies within the NoHo Historic District Extension, which changes the conversation about its future. It is not a development site - unlike its neighbors which were demolished/redeveloped before being designated. I admire the owner and her connection to her company, but this basic fact should have been reported.

  167. I understand the pain disposing of the machines and tools brings. I am 76. The tools I have accumulated in my life have done more for my well-being than all but two or three of the people I have known.

  168. I sure hope a home is found for this equipment. Even if some it is transformed to art, We will all be gone and these items should still be here they were made to Last. Wonderful article.

  169. It was refreshing to read about Flavia Galuppo. I respect her decision and I admire her. I wish I could have the opportunity to visit, go inside her factory, and purchase something, not too expensive, just a "treasure". What a wonderful story about how "things in New York"n once was in that area before it became SoHo and pushed the "little people" out and away.

  170. Lots of good stuff in this story, including Ms. Galuppo who is not being driven by more money and gentrification.

  171. It was nice to read a story about the type of Italian-American experience I observed while growing up—intelligent, creative, inventive and socially conscious people who were neither involved in organized crime nor goombah-ish bigots. Although Mr. Galuppo’s origin story wasn’t told, it was implied—implied also was the hard work and determination it took to survive and thrive in this country if you weren’t “born into money.” So...perhaps this building could become an Italian-American museum and cultural center?

  172. The slow death of the Tool and Die industry in America is one of the most significant victims of our new global corporate based economy where stock market value is the only defining measure of success. I’ve been a Toolmaker for 40yrs who served a 4 yr apprenticeship and worked my way through the trade until I became a Master Diemaker. A really good diemaker is an artist and the medium is a thousand pounds of steel shaped and formed to the .0001 of an inch When I started the Toolroom was involved in the design process, we had autonomy to be as creative as possible to do the job, we had a robust training program for young workers, we were respected and considered professionals and we thrived while we developed all the minimally invasive surgical devices that changed medical procedures like gall bladder surgery. The reality now is constant unrelenting stress from self imposed deadlines to make things cheaper and faster without any support or capital investments. Where I work we’ve no apprentice finish the program in years because of these working conditions. I feel like a dinosaur with 4 decades of experience who’s going to take this vast knowledge of this beautiful trade to the grave.

  173. I own a 4 mil brownstone in Carroll gardens that many have offered cash for, I won’t sell, I won’t give my bricks and soil that my immigrant parents suffered for to some yuppies to make another overpriced faux building. My building is the real Brooklyn. My mom bought it for 35 grand and I won’t sell it for under 15 million , your greed doesn’t affect me. I won’t sell what I believe or what I grew up under cheap. Go somewhere else

  174. Instead of resentment at being offered less than 15 mil for your inherited 4 mil building you should be grateful that the market created by those greedy developers and unappreciative yuppies has now enabled you another avenue of substantial financial security. Most would love to have your problem. You need to take a step back and count your blessings.

  175. What a great story, a triumph to the family and the industry if this nation. Truly remarkable that this factory stilled existed in Manhattan, operating for many decades after World War II. There are many young men and women out there who would love to learn a trade such as this, not only staring into computer screens, hoping that something magic will happen. Sadly, we have a president who seems only to reward corruption and money grabbing. It’s time for new leadership, of a generation that again values the lessons and fruits of old fashioned hard work and the joy of industry.

  176. i wonder if a people that doesnt make things as essential as tools and dies can survive. these shops and those before them, like family farms, kept more than just machinery running and tools and parts coming- they kept the men that worked them proud, independent and creative. where can people work today with the same priceless dirt and grime and sweaty pride?

  177. Thank you Alex for bringing us the story so many of us can identify with and a big thank you to Flavia for sharing your story. My memories are intertwined with yours but the future is now and cannot be staved off for the nostalgia for our past, unfortunately.

  178. The school system should be using the equipment and the expertise of these older machinists to teach design and fabrication skills to high school students. Everyone bemoans manufacturing going overseas, but we aren't educating young people who may want to acquire these skills. Germany has apprenticeship programs in machining throughout their public school system. In the US, we have to outsource screws for cell phones to China.

  179. good for you, ms. galuppo.

  180. There has got to be some hipsters out there who would buy the factory and continue the legacy and promote Made in USA or Proudly Made in NYC. (Akin to Shinola from Detroit)

  181. I used to love to walk by Etna Tool and Die and admire their trash. They would throw out stacks of thin metal sheets with intricately punched out shapes and patterns. I wanted to salvage them and give them a second life as art.

  182. I am not much of an expert,but I think that the machines in the photos are antiques that shd have been replaced a long time ago these are milling machines ("Bridgeports") yes they have been retro fitted with digital controls, but, still these are really old machines

  183. Housing is such a scarcity in Manhattan. Put in housing and be smart about it. Sentimentality and being frozen in time are unproductive.

  184. This is a syndicalism and sad comment, and has what led to my beautiful city to be only for the very very rich. I’m sorry you missed the point of the article.

  185. Reading the article brings a certain gasp of nostalgia for all things past. However reading the comments annoys me in that history is just that history: it was and it is now gone, we cannot bring it back.time to move on folks, we have today and hopefully a future, but the past is gone, gone, gone.

  186. Artist's studios would be a lovely transformation.