Woolworth Building in New York City

by Denise Marie

One of the oldest skyscraper buildings and one of the tallest in the world is located at 233 Broadway New York, New York. Ranging in on the fiftieth tallest building lists in the USA is the Woolworth Building, otherwise known as the “Cathedral of Commerce”. The Woolworth Building has been a New York City landmark since the early 1980s and a national landmark since 1966. It houses the New York University of Continuing and Professional Studies’ and many other tenants. Unfortunately, due to the attack on the World Trade Center, some businesses have been displaced and have either dissolved or relocated somewhere else throughout New York City.

In the past the Woolworth Building has been shown in many television series, novels and video games such as Grand Theft Auto 4. Today’s pop culture utilizes the iconic landmark for its name and architectural style and design.

History and Architecture
The conception of the Woolworth Building was intended to be the headquarters for Woolworth “Five and Dime” department store chains. This was considered symbolic of American capitalism in the early part of the century.

Construction started in 1910 and was completed in the early part of 1913. Architect Cass Gilbert designed the building with visions of creating features that were similar to the Chartres Cathedral located in France with a Gothic peripheral. The Woolworth Building only took three years for completion opening its doors in April 1913. Ownership was originated by the Woolworth Company from day one and lasted for more than 80 years until it was purchased by F.W. Woolworth and then Witkoff Group for more than $150 million dollars. The echoed skyline sits more than 792ft in height. This height is a couple more hundred feet than what was planned with the original parliament design.

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Opening ceremonies began on April 24, 1913. President Woodrow Wilson was the first to light up the place with 80,000 lights illuminating the whole interior and exterior with the push of a button. The city of New York celebrated as the opening of such a structure was taking place. The festive event was proudly accepted by residents and officials.

This 60 story construction was originally designed to be only 16 stories. With the Singer Building and Pulitzer Building soaring up into the deep blue skies, Frank Woolworth decided to enhance the building to oppose changes that would enhance the opposition of the towering skylines.

In total there are close to 60 floors, more than 980,000 square feet of carved markings displaying Frank Woolworth counting his coins. Other breathtaking details of the structure include an enormous mural on the ceiling of Woolworth stores with the year of commencement displayed in early Christian mosaic style glass. The lobby is made up of gargoyle sculptures symbolizing everyone’s involvement with the design and creation of the building. Other personalized details include Cass Gilbert cradling his arms, terra cotta exterior, copper spires, swept arched entry ways and marble private offices.

Visiting the Woolworth Building
The lobby of the Woolworth Building is no longer open to the public due to security reasons. There are special events and tours that are available on occasion for the public to attend. The top 30 floors of the building were purchased by an investment group with hopes of opening luxury apartments and penthouses. The Witkoff Group still owns the lower 28 levels in which are open for lease to use as office space.

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