Monday, August 19, 2013

Famous Buildings in New York City: The Woolworth Building

By Jeff Myers

The Woolworth Building, is a beautiful Neo-Gothic skyscraper located at 233 Broadway in lower Manhattan. It is amongst the 50 tallest buildings in the United States. It was built in 1913 and until the completion of 40 Wall St. and the Chrysler Building in 1930, the Woolworth Building was the tallest in the nation. The Woolworth still among the top 25 tallest buildings in NYC.

Designed by Cass Gilbert

One of the fun facts about the Woolworth Building is that its designer was Cass Gilbert, an Ohioan who was also the designer for the U.S. Supreme Court building. Gilbert considered a pioneer in the architecture of skyscrapers. Gilbert created about thrity plans for the building over a two year span before he decided on the one that we see today.

Commissioned by Frank W. Woolworth

Frank Woolworth founded the Woolworth Company, a chain of "5 and 10" stores. Upon commissioning the building, he paid for the $13,500,000 skyscraper in cash.

Struggles with Lewis Pierson

The Woolworth building also housed the Irving Bank, whose president was Lewis Pierson. The Irving Bank was a major building tenant and Pierson's desires were important ones to consider. Woolworth and Pierson regularly had animated discussions over their conflicting visions of what the building should look like.

Old Observation Deck

The observation deck was on the 57th floor, but was closed in 1945.

National Historic Landmark

The Woolwprth Building has been a National Historic Landmark since 1966.

Columbia Records

In 1913, Columbia Records was one of the first tenants and had a well-known studio on the premises. The studio was in use as early as 1917.

Frank Woolworth's Private Office

The office is designed in the baroque French Empire style and is decorated in marble.

Unplanned Heights

The initial plan was it was only supposed to be a 12 to 16 story office building at the corner of Broadway and Park Place, but Woolworth kept procuring more land. The height of the building grew accordingly.


The Woolworth building's colonnade galleries are decorated with caricatures of the skyscraper's champions. When the rental agent Edward Hogan found out that he wasn't among the caricatures produced by Paul Jenewein, he was upset and insisted that his caricature be put in as well.

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