When you think of Woolworth, you probably thing of the discount Walmart type store that you shopped back in the day. It was the man that started this chain that had the world's tallest building built in 1913. Frank Woolworth was a rather eccentric man, as was the architect a man by the name of Cass Gilbert. The building is in Neo-Gothic style, and really has no rhyme nor reason to the design. It is whimsical and beautiful, almost like it was designed to be like a fantasy world, which from what I understand it sort of was. At 792 feet the Woolworth Building was the world's tallest building from its completion in 1913 until 1930 when 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler Building were completed. It is still one of the 20 tallest buildings in NYC. The building has been home to many companies over the years, including the Colombia Records Headquarters, Irving National Bank and Footlocker Headquarters. Both Tesla and Marconi were also tenants at one time. Today it is mostly just some office buildings and also holds a courthouse. The top 30 floors were purchased a few years ago and are being converted into luxury condos. The Penthouse which will be the top eight floors of the building will be listed at 110 million dollars, the highest asking price for a apartment in downtown Manhattan ever.
Since 9/11 the building has not been open to the public at all except for small tours weekly. I was lucky enough to be able to go on one of these tours a couple weeks ago with a historian that has been hired by the current owner, the Witkoff Group, to study the history of the building.
A few pictures of the gorgeous exterior:
You can really see the top eight floors that will be the 110 million dollar penthouse:
Walking into this grand lobby is quite amazing. The ceiling is made from millions of tiny tiles forming birds, and many different patterns. The walls are marble and granite from all over the world, including Vermont and Greece:
It is not known who all of the carved figures of the men are, but they are all dressed in Monks clothing, some with over exaggerated muscles and body parts. One of the heads, I believe this one, is Wilbur Pearson, an engineer:
Frank Woolworth, cradling nickels and dimes:
Cass Gilbert, holding the building:
The Mural "Labor and Commerce" on the second floor of the lobby:
Demon like Gothic sculptures:
View of the back of the lobby and staircase to the second floor.
These smaller colored sculptures are thought to be caricatures of some of the workers that helped build the lobby.
Close up of the intricate tile mosaics in the lobby:
Entrance to the subway stop that was once here and has since been closed and filled in as well as to the Turkish bath that used to be here.
Subway entrance, now filled in and the room is used for the bikes of people that work here:
The vault doors that were used by Irving National Bank:
All of the elevators in the building are made of bronze and were designed by Tiffany:
Original Brass mailboxes:
The building has been a national landmark since 1966 and a NYC landmark since 1983.
The building has a rather sordid past because of the eccentricities of Woolworth and his family. After Frank died, his niece and famous socialite drug addict Barbara Hutton inherited all billions of dollars and when she died had 3000 dollars left. Luckily the building was a landmark or it would have been given to her as well and most likely sold for no where near what it was worth.
Watch for the building in movies such as Cloverfield and Enchanted as well as Ugly Betty and even in Grand Theft Auto IV.
It is a really cool building to check out but it is not the easiest to get in to see it. I really would love to go up and see that 110 million dollar condo someday!