A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from September 21, 2006
White Glove Building

A “white glove building” is a building with a doorman or concierge who wears white gloves. Some people think the term is for an ultraclean building that passes the “white glove treatment” where dirt won’t show on a white glove.

A “white glove building” is an expensive one. The term first appeared in a classified as in 1983.

Word Reference forum
Re: white-glove building
There are two possible interpretations.

First, white gloves have historically been considered “proper” attire for ladies. (And for U.S. Marines. But I don’t want to go there.

So using white-glove may mean “formal” or “proper.”

Second, somewhat related to the first, there is the story of the inspector: commanding officer, mother-in-law, whatever. In this apocryphal tale, the inspector would wear white gloves when checking the cleanliness of a room. Any dirt or dust that was missed would show up on the gloves, making the inspection a nightmare for whoever was responsible for cleaning.

So your building could be formal, rigid, ruled by etiquette, or it could be very, very clean.

Re: white-glove building
A boring bit of Googling turned up many, many ads for apartments, including this little gem:

This great 2bed 1bath is in a white glove building that has a real nice tenant lunge,

but more important to this thread, this definition:

White Glove Building - A luxury doorman building usually with concierge. Often offers more services and elegance than a typical luxury building. The doorman’s uniforms would include white gloves, hence the term “White Glove”. 

19 October 1983, New York Times, pg. B20 classifieds:
BIG 1 BED $1258

2 May 1997, New York Times, pg. A1:
In a white-glove building on Fifth Avenue, it was his three-bedroom home of 18 years.

14 September 1997, New York Times, pg. CY8:
To many residents of Central Park West’s white-glove buildings, local historic preservationists and ordinary park enthusiasts, the electrical transformer that was installed at the 86th Street entrance to the park 18 months ago is a visual affront.

11 December 1997, New York Times, Residential Resales, pg. F11:
Two miles north and three blocks west, Leslie Wexner, the chairman of Limited clothing company, has signed a contract to buy a 16-room co-op duplex at 834 Fifth Avenue, the super-white-glove building on 64th Street, for $9 million, brokers familiar with the deal say.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBuildings/Housing/Parks • (0) Comments • Thursday, September 21, 2006 • Permalink