The Woolworth Building, at 57 stories, is one of the oldest—and one of the most famous—skyscrapers in New York City. More than ninety years after its construction, it is still one of the List of fifty tallest buildings in the United States as well as one of the twenty tallest buildings in New York City. The building is a National Historic Landmark, having been listed in 1966.
The Woolworth Building was constructed in neo-Gothic style by architect Cass Gilbert, who was commissioned by Frank Woolworth in 1910 to design the new corporate headquarters on Broadway, between Park Place and Barclay Street in Lower Manhattan, opposite City Hall. Originally planned to be 625 feet (190.5 m) high, in accordance with the area's zoning laws, the building was eventually elevated to 792 feet (241 m). The construction cost was $13,500,000 and Woolworth paid in cash. On completion, the Woolworth building overtook the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower as the world's tallest building; it opened on April 24, 1913.
With splendor and a resemblance to European Gothic cathedrals, the structure was labeled the Cathedral of Commerce by the Reverend S. Parkes Cadman during the opening ceremony. It remained the tallest building in the world until the construction of 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler Building in 1930; an observation deck on the 58th floor attracted visitors until 1945.
The building's tower, flush with the main frontage on Broadway, is raised on a block base with a narrow interior court for light. The exterior decoration was cast in limestone-colored, glazed architectural terra-cotta panels. Strongly articulated piers, carried—without interrupting cornices—right to the pyramidal cap, give the building its upward thrust. The Gothic detailing concentrated at the highly visible top is massively scaled, able to be read from the street level several hundred feet below. The ornate, cruciform lobby has a vaulted ceiling, mosaics, and sculpted caricatures that include Gilbert and Woolworth. Woolworth's private office, revetted in marble in French Empire style, is preserved.
Engineers Gunvald Aus and Kort Berle designed the steel frame, supported on massive caissons that penetrate to the bedrock. The high-speed elevators were innovative, and the building's high office-to-elevator ratio made the structure profitable. Tenants included the Irving Trust bank and Columbia Records, which housed a recording studio in the building.
The building was owned by the Woolworth company for 85 years until 1998, when the Venator Group (formerly the F. W. Woolworth Company) sold it to the Witkoff Group for $155 million.
Prior to its 2001 destruction, the World Trade Center was often photographed in such a way that the Woolworth Building could be seen in the gap between the twin towers.
After the September 11, 2001 attacks a few blocks away, the building was without electricity and telephone service for a few weeks but suffered no significant damage. Increased post-attack security restricted access to most of the ornate lobby, previously a tourist attraction.
The structure has a long association with higher education, housing a number of Fordham University schools in the early 20th century. Today, the building houses, among other tenants, Control Group Inc and the New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies' Center for Global Affairs.
The monster made landfall on Manhattan island at US-249 (formerly "Battery Park"). The Woolworth Building was one of the buildings near the mysterious explosion and the first structures to be destroyed by the creature. The main characters were among the dozens of people present when it collapsed. As the dust from the building came toward them, Jason, Lily, Hud, and Rob took cover inside of a convenience store with several others, while Marlena was locked outside.
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