James Bogardus

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
James Bogardus
Newspaper photograph
Born(1800-03-14)March 14, 1800
DiedApril 13, 1874(1874-04-13) (aged 74)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Known forCast-iron
Spouse(s)Margaret MacClay

James Bogardus (March 14, 1800 – April 13, 1874) was an American inventor and architect, the pioneer of American cast-iron architecture, for which he took out a patent in 1850.[1]

Early life[edit]

Bogardus was born in the town of Catskill in New York on March 14, 1800. He was a descendant of the Rev. Everardus Bogardus (d. 1647), the second clergyman in New Netherlands.

At the age of fourteen, Bogardus quit school to start an apprenticeship at a watchmaker.[2]


In 1828, Bogardus invented a cotton-spinning machine called a ring flier.[3] In 1831, he invented a mechanized engraving machine that was employed for engraving dies for bank notes. He also invented the eccentric mill in 1832, which is still used in principle for fine finish of ball bearings, and, with variable eccentricity, for lens grinding.[4]

Bogardus attached plaques to his cast-ironwork that read: "James Bogardus Originator & Patentee of Iron Buildings Pat' May 7, 1850."[5] He demonstrated the use of cast-iron in the construction of building facades, especially in New York City for the next two decades. He was based in New York, but also worked in Washington, DC, where three cast-iron structures erected by Bogardus in 1851 were the first such constructions in the capital. The success of the cast-iron exteriors from 1850 to 1880 led to the adoption of steel-frame construction for entire buildings.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Bogardus Plaza in Tribeca in 2021.

He married Margaret MacClay (1803–1878), the daughter of Daughter of Rev. Archibald Maclay, in 1831. Margaret worked as an artist and two portrait miniatures by her are in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.[6]

Bogardus died in New York City aged 74. Bogardus is interred at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.[7]


A small park in TriBeCa, where Chambers Street, Hudson Street and West Broadway intersect, is named James Bogardus Triangle.[8]

Bogardus buildings[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Margot Gayle and Carol Gayle. Cast-Iron Architecture in America: The Significance of James Bogardus (New York: Norton) 1998.


  1. ^ a b Winters, Alfred; Winters, Eleanor (2012). Exploring New York's SoHo. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9781614237020. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  2. ^ "Men of Progress". americanhistory.si.edu. National Museum of American History. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  3. ^ Hanson, John Wesley (1900). Progress of the Nineteenth Century: A Panoramic Review of the Inventions and Discoveries of the Past Hundred Years ... J. L. Nichols. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  4. ^ "James Bogardus | Spandrel Panel from Edgar H. Laing Stores | American | The Met". metmuseum.org. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  5. ^ Streetscapes/75 Murray Street; Bought for Its Site, the Rundown Loft Is a Gem, by CHRISTOPHER GRAY, New York Times, October 30, 1994 [1]
  6. ^ Carrie Rebora Barratt and Lori Zabar, American Portrait Miniatures in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, p.162-3
  7. ^ "JAMES BOGARDUS (1800-1874) | Green-Wood". www.green-wood.com. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  8. ^ Rosenberg, Andrew; Dunford, Martin (2011). The Rough Guide to New York. Penguin. ISBN 9781848365902. Retrieved 29 August 2017.