Woolworth Building

Woolworth Building (HM8OX)

Location: New York, NY 10007 New York County
Buy New York State flags at Flagstore.com!
Country: United States of America
Buy United States of America flags at Flagstore.com!

N 40° 42.743', W 74° 0.475'

  • 0 check ins
  • 0 favorites

233 Broadway, Cass Gilbert, Architect, 1910-1913

— Exploring Downtown —

One of America's earliest and greatest romantic skyscrapers, rising 60 stories above City Hall Park, the Woolworth Building held the coveted title of world's tallest building until losing it to the Chrysler Building in 1929. The Gothic inspired, terra-cotta clad skyscraper was built—and paid for in cash—by the inventor of that great American institution, the five-and-ten-cent store. When asked why he did it, Frank Woolworth said he wanted the building to advertise his stores—though there's also a story about competition with the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, which refused Woolworth a mortgage and then watched its own famous tower become the world's second tallest building.

Wander in to what was once called the "Cathedral of Commerce" and you will find yourself in a vaulted arcade resplendent in marble walls, bronze Gothic filigree, and golden mosaics. Mimicking the nave and transept plan of church architecture, Woolworth's lobby rises to a gleaming mosaic ceiling. Voluptuous Gothic detail ranges from elaborately finished mailboxes to austere altar pieces of Labor and Commerce on the mezzanines. Sculpted caricatures by Tom Johnson show architect Cass Gilbert holding a model of the building, Woolworth paying for the building with his nickels and dimes, the builder, the steam engineer, and even Edward J. Hogan, the rental agent—but only because he protested in a letter to Gilbert that he was being left out.

[Photo captions:]"What shall I say of a city that builds the most beautiful cathedral in the world and calls it an office building?" - British Prime Minister Arthur Balfour.

Gargoyles of F. W. Woolworth (top) and Cass Gilbert (bottom).

(Above) Set further back in the lobby is the Marble Hall, whose grand staircase rises to the former entrance of the Irving Trust Company. Secular rather than ecclesiastical in flavor, reminiscent of a flat-roofed medieval guild hall, it rises to a sumptuous glass ceiling inscribed with the names of history's great commercial cities.

[1] Broadway-Chambers Building. A few blocks north at 277 Broadway. Cass Gilbert's first New York skyscraper—completed in 1900—sports terra-cotta ornament inspired by ancient Roman designs.
[2] Wall Street Building. A dockside Gothic skyscraper for the shipping trade—at 90 West Street, opposite Downtown's former shoreline—Cass Gilbert's second tower (1905-1907) offered its original tenants grand views of their own fleets sailing up the Hudson.
[3] United States Courthouse. In his last work (1934-34), at 40 Centre Street in the Court District, Gilbert wrapped the classical colonnade of a typical federal courthouse around a 38-story, 590-foot-tall New York skyscraper.
HM NumberHM8OX
Series This marker is part of the National Historic Landmarks series
Placed ByAlliance for Downtown New York, Inc
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, September 7th, 2014 at 6:50pm PDT -07:00
Sorry, but we don't have a picture of this historical marker yet. If you have a picture, please share it with us. It's simple to do. 1) Become a member. 2) Adopt this historical marker listing. 3) Upload the picture.
Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18T E 583797 N 4507302
Decimal Degrees40.71238333, -74.00791667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 42.743', W 74° 0.475'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 42' 44.58" N, 74° 0' 28.50" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)212, 917, 646, 718, 347
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 4680-4962 Lower Apalachee Rd, New York NY 10007, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

Is this marker missing? Are the coordinates wrong? Do you have additional information that you would like to share with us? If so, check in.

Nearby Markersshow on map
Check Ins  check in   |    all

Have you seen this marker? If so, check in and tell us about it.

Comments 0 comments

Maintenance Issues
  1. What historical period does the marker represent?
  2. What historical place does the marker represent?
  3. What type of marker is it?
  4. What class is the marker?
  5. What style is the marker?
  6. Does the marker have a number?
  7. What year was the marker erected?
  8. This marker needs at least one picture.
  9. Can this marker be seen from the road?
  10. Is the marker in the median?