A construction crew working on the site of an upcoming condominium conversion at 212 Fifth Avenue unearthed swastika symbols on the mosaic tile floors, sources told The Real Deal.
The property, located at 26th Street near Madison Square Park, is being converted to high-end condominiums by a partnership between Madison Equities, Building and Land Technology and Thor Equities. A spokesperson for the project said they were not familiar with the origins of the symbols but had begun ripping out the tiles as soon as they were found.
Photos obtained by TRD show the floors lined with swastikas. While the genesis of the symbols remains unclear, it’s likely that the tiles dates back to the early 1900s, well before the Nazi party adopted the swastika as its symbol.
The property was built between 1912 and 1913 by the architectural firm Schwartz & Gross and was home to the Exchange Buffet Lunch, a self-service restaurant for exclusively male clientele. It was once known as the Liggett & Myers Building, after the tobacco company.
It has also been home to the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, an organization that aims to prevent discrimination against the Jewish people. In recent years, it was the crown jewel of the Ring portfolio, which Gary Barnett’s Extell Development bought from the Ring brothers.
While the swastika symbol has become synonymous in the western world with the Nazis, it has a more positive connotation in Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Swastika means “lucky or auspicious object” in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit.
Units at 212 Fifth are priced between $2,500 and $4,500 per square foot.