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Landmarks

How to climb the Woolworth Building, courtesy the Historic Districts Council

Ever been to the top of the Woolworth Building? Most people haven’t. There are some good lobby tours but rarely any that take you to the very top of the building which was once the world’s tallest when it was completed in 1913. Well thanks to the Historic Districts Council (along with Sotheby’s International Realty and […]

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Planes Trains and Automobiles

A city of bridges: One century ago, Scientific American predicted a future of elevated sidewalks

Imagine a city where the High Line isn’t just a novel park, but the primary form of urban conveyance. In 1913, with the proliferation of the automobile, it seemed humans were being crowded out at ground level.  People were beginning to think of themselves as removed from the street.  Daredevils were experimenting with flight, and […]

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Landmarks

Battle for the New York City Skyline: How Tall Can It Go?

PODCAST  The story of growing tall in New York City and the two pivotal laws that allowed for the city’s dynamic, constantly evolving skyline. This year is the 100th anniversary of one of the most important laws ever passed in New York City — the 1916 Zoning Law which dictated the rules for building big and […]

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Podcasts Skyscrapers

The Tallest Building In New York: A Short History

Postcard from the past: When the Singer Building was the world’s tallest (NYPL)PODCAST One World Trade Center was declared last year the tallest building in America, but it’s a very different structure from the other skyscrapers who have once held that title. In New York, owning the tallest building has often been like possessing a […]

Categories
Neighborhoods

History in the Making 4/25: In Memory of a Horrible Fire

Above: A dramatic depiction of a fire which took place 160 years ago today. W. T. Jennings was a fine gentleman’s clothing store located at 231 Broadway, on the site of today’s Woolworth Building.  A tremendous fire took the building on the evening of April 25, 1854, causing thousands of dollars in damage and destroying the […]

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Landmarks

The Astor House came tumbling down one century ago

The Astor House was New York City’s first great hotel, opened in 1836 by John Jacob Astor himself, a premier accommodation for the city throughout the 19th century.  But by 1913, it was time to tear it down. It was a symbolic moment for many older New Yorkers.  As you can tell from the image […]

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Landmarks

The many mysterious and tragic events that befell the Woolworths after constructing the Woolworth Building

The dramatic Woolworth mausoleum in Woodlawn Cemetery  With completion of the Woolworth Building in 1913, the leader of the five-and-dime retail craze Frank W. Woolworth had his grand declaration of success in New York, widely feted and proclaimed.  His hundreds of stores would go on to define the shopping experience around the world over the […]

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Landmarks

The Woolworth Building at 100: How they partied in 1913, with the “highest dinner ever held in New York”

This is how they turn on the lights at the tallest building in the world in 1913: At some time after 7 pm,  according the New York Sun the following day, “President [Woodrow] Wilson pushed a button in Washington last night, a bell tinkled in the engineer’s quarters far below the street level in the Woolworth Building and […]

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Landmarks

What a resume! Cass Gilbert’s three stunning prequels to the Woolworth Building

From this angle, you can see two of Cass Gilbert’s creation, the West Street Building and the Woolworth under construction.  View of his Broadway-Chambers Building is obscured by the building to the left. (LOC)It’s Woolworth Building week here in New York City!  The lights of Frank Woolworth‘s treasured office tower were turned on in an […]

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Skyscrapers

Before Woolworth: The early towers of lower Broadway at the birth of the skyscraper boom

Next week is the 100th birthday of the opening of the Woolworth Building.  The classic skyscraper designed by Cass Gilbert changed everything about perceptions of tall buildings in Manhattan — for good and ill.  Suddenly, towers could be as graceful and important as monuments, and as playful and enigmatic as castles. New Yorkers were anxious […]

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Newspapers and Newsies

What if? Meteors over Manhattan, 1922

In 1922, the New York Tribune envisioned what it would be like if a meteor hit downtown Manhattan.  The article is a real scare piece on the potential of meteors destroying life on Earth.  It references the American Museum of Natural History‘s own meteor, Ahnighito, brought to the institution by Robert Peary in 1904.  As […]

Four New York City landmarks turn 100 years old this year

1) Grand Central TerminalThe Grand Central Depot was first built at 42nd Street in 1871 as a hub for Cornelius Vanderbilt’s railroad operations. It was greatly expanded at the turn of the century. and by this time, the tracks headed north were electrified and buried, creating Park Avenue. The present terminal was conceived in 1903 […]

Four New York City landmarks turn 100 years old this year

1) Grand Central TerminalThe Grand Central Depot was first built at 42nd Street in 1871 as a hub for Cornelius Vanderbilt’s railroad operations. It was greatly expanded at the turn of the century. and by this time, the tracks headed north were electrified and buried, creating Park Avenue. The present terminal was conceived in 1903 […]

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Skyscrapers

The Big Wind of 1912: New York skyscrapers in peril, as monster gales hurl “men and women down city streets”

Trauma in Times Square: An electrical sign destroyed by the massive windstorm of February 22, 1912. One Times Square sits to the left, and the Hotel Astor is in the distance. [LOC] Shorpy has an another angle of this damaged storefront. “The great gale that blew in with Washington’s birthday will not soon be forgotten. It […]

Categories
Skyscrapers

A century ago, excitement builds as the Woolworth ascends

The Woolworth Building, as it appeared on January 20, 1912 (Courtesy LOC) The Woolworth Building was the biggest story in real estate one hundred years ago, long before it was even completed. By the waning moments of 1911, something finally began to rise out of the belching smoke and clutter collecting at the northwest corner […]