34-38 Water Street Saved from destruction by the landmark conservancy (1970s) this block contains examples of counting houses, the commercial buildings of early 19th cent. New York. Precursors of the New York office building, counting houses were an adaptation of residential row houses. Built along the water's edge, these buildings served New York's active port. The simple four story structures functioned as stores, storerooms and accounting offices for early 19th century merchants.