Last time on “City Full of History”, we paid a visit to Frederick Catherwood’s Panorama! Come along now as we climb George Youle’s Shot Tower and dive into the unique process for manufacturing lead shot in Old New York!
If you head to the block between 53rd and 54th Streets overlooking the East River, you’ll find a charming little sliver of a park. Behind it stands two high-rise apartment complexes, but if you were here in 1823 you would be looking at one of the most interesting manufacturing centers in New York City: the shot tower belonging to George Youle.
Manufacturing lead shot, primarily used in ammunition, was even then a fairly simple process, but it did require the construction of a tower built especially for that purpose. In 1821 metal merchant and inventor George Youle decided to get into the manufacturing side of things and began construction of such a tower on his farm, about 4 miles north of New York City.
Youle’s tower was notable for several reasons. Designed by renowned New York architect John McComb, Jr, it was both the first and last shot tower standing on Manhattan. A prominent landmark to those travelling on the Eastern Post Road, it even found its way into the paintings of Jasper Cropsey and Frederic Church.