F.W. Woolworth was the self-made king of retail’s newfangled ‘five and dime’ store and his pockets were overflowing with cash. Meanwhile, in New York, the contest to build the tallest building was well underway. The two combine to create one of Manhattan’s most handsome buildings — the Woolworth Building — cutting a Gothic profile on the skyline, designed by America’s hottest architect of the early 20th century. So what exactly does it all have to do with sneakers and gym clothes?
This was originally released on February 12, 2009.
NOW WITH BONUS CONTENT: Hear about the lavish party — “the highest dinner in history” — held on the Woolworth Building’s opening day.
A special illustrated version of the podcast on the Woolworth Building (Episode #76) is now available on our NYC History Archive feed, via iTunes or other podcast distribution services. Chapter headings with images have been embedded in this show, so if your listening device is compatible with AAC/M4A files, just hit play and a variety of pictures should pop up. The audio is superior than the original as well. (This will work as a normal audio file even if the images don’t appear.)
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The Woolworth Building …. going up! Photos of its construction in 1912-13, courtesy the Library of Congress:
The ‘windy corner’ of the Woolworth Building’s northeastern corner. In the background is the old post office.
The Woolworth Building as it looked from Brooklyn: