After festooning the city with such beautiful things for generations, it’s no surprise to find traces of the Rambusch Lighting Company in New York’s print repositories too — albeit in today’s digitized form. Nevertheless, what a treat to come across two of the company’s old ads! Who knows the last time anybody saw one? I’d wager it’s been a while.
Anyway, the first dates back to when the company was just 33 years old. Operating out of a space at 2 West 45th Street — a 16-story structure that still stands — Rambusch placed this plug in the 1931 December issue of The Architectural Forum:
Surprisingly, the firm didn’t promote its talent to produce light fixtures here, despite having done so for clients like Thomas Lamb — the designer who called Rambusch for help with the Embassy Theater in 1925:
But no matter: Lighting would eventually become a significant portion of the company’s business. Take the “Downlite,” for example. A ceiling unit patented in 1936, this Rambusch invention began its ascent in the industry by first appearing inside places like the Daily News Building (220 East 42nd Street). As the late 1980s dawned, it was one of Rambusch’s top products, recognized as “the standard for public spaces.” Now a recessed, tungsten-halogen ceiling capsule, the Downlite was truly state-of-the-art. It could emit anywhere from 70 to 500 watts of power while being cooled by a die-cast aluminum radiator.
Of course, you had to see it to believe it, and in the late ’80s you could. When a lighting industry convention came to New York in May 1989, Rambusch placed this notice in Architectural Lighting to spark excitement:
As the image relates, Rambusch populated the entire building at 40 West 13th Street. Unfortunately, just two years after it ran this ad, the company filed for bankruptcy. A robust plan for expansion backfired and killed its ability to cover costs. However, in 1994 — after selling its building, moving staff to a small office at 28 West 25th Street, and relocating what was left of its assets to Jersey City — Rambusch beat the odds and began climbing back toward profitability. It’s old headquarters on West 13th Street is now a collection of condos.