Only in New York! Petco Moves to Tammany Hall

By Arthur Schwartz

PETCO RENTED 30,000 SQUARE FEET on three floors at 44 Union Square. The store will be significantly larger than the 860 Broadway site. Photo by Arthur Schwartz.

On May 31st, Petco, the City’s largest chain of pet stores, moved from the corner of 17th Street and Broadway (860 Broadway), to Tammany Hall, an august building at the corner of 17th Street and Park Avenue South (44 Union Square East).

The neo-Georgian structure was erected in 1928–1929 and designed by architects Thompson, Holmes & Converse and Charles B. Meyers for the Tammany Society political organization, also known as Tammany Hall. It is the organization’s oldest surviving headquarters building.

The Tammany Society had relocated to 44 Union Square from a previous headquarters on nearby 14th Street. At the time of the building’s commission, the society was at its maximum political popularity with members such as U.S. Senator Robert F. Wagner, Governor Al Smith, and Mayor Jimmy Walker. However, after Tammany Hall lost its influence in the 1930s, the building was sold to an affiliate of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union in 1943. By the 1980s, it was used by the Union Square Theatre, while the New York Film Academy took space in 1994.

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the building as a city landmark in 2013, and it was converted into an office and retail structure during a renovation that took place between 2016 and 2020. The renovation preserved the facade while totally gutting the interior. A glass domed roof was added to honor Chief Tamanend, namesake of the Tammany Society. (Chief Tamanend was the Chief of Chiefs of the Lenni-Lenape nation which stretched across the  Delaware Valley. In 1683 Tammeny signed a peace treaty with William Penn and became known as the “Patron Saint of America.”

Tammany’s popular status was partly due to the desire by colonists to express a distinct “American” identity in place of their former European nationalities.
History aside, Tammany Hall is now the new home of Petco which rented 30,000 square feet on three floors at 44 Union Square. The store will be significantly larger than the 860 Broadway site. There will be full service grooming and a vet on site. Cat adoption services will be expanded, and far more humane. Shopping will be far more consumer friendly, with wider aisles and services will be more accessible to those with disabilities.