Tiffany in Queens
By 1893, Tiffany was focusing his full attention on the creative possibilities in glass. For a time, he collaborated with commercial glasshouses, but the availability of sheet glass was limited in quantity, and the range of color and texture did not fully satisfy his needs. He opened a glasshouse, the Stourbridge Glass Company (later Tiffany Furnaces), in Corona, Queens, where he employed skilled chemists to experiment with new glass recipes and decorative effects for sheet and blown glass. The result was astonishing: the furnaces yielded a vast array of colors in every imaginable shade, tone and hue, and glass blowers conjured new forms adorned with intriguing patterns and unusual surface textures.
Experimentation was the cornerstone of the Tiffany furnaces, and Tiffany’s new glass formulas were fiercely guarded secrets. Tiffany sought privacy and Corona, a rural area safely away from the prying eyes of his competitors, was a perfect location. In fact, the glasshouse burned down in late 1893, and Tiffany immediately rebuilt on the same site (the corner of Main Street and Irving Place, now 43rd Avenue and 97th Place). A small pottery studio was added around 1900.
As Tiffany’s businesses grew, he significantly expanded his operations in Corona. Across the street from the furnaces, between Main Street and the railroad, he established the Allied Arts Company (later Tiffany Studios), a large brick building that eventually housed woodworking shops, lamp and chandelier departments, a foundry, and metal shops for brass, bronze and iron. This allowed him to produce everything from furniture and lighting fixtures to desk sets, elevator doors, and monumental sculpture. For a time, Tiffany’s bronze foundry was the largest in the United States. At its height, Tiffany’s enterprise reportedly employed several hundred workers, many from Corona.