Woolworth Building in New York City
The Woolworth Building is one of the oldest skyscrapers in New York City. More than a century after the start of its construction, it remains, at 57 stories, one of the fifty tallest buildings in the United States as well as one of the twenty tallest buildings in New York City. Since 1966 it has been a National Historic Landmark, and a New York City landmark since 1983.
The Woolworth Building was constructed in neo-Gothic style by architect Cass Gilbert, who was commissioned by Frank Woolworth in 1910 to design the tallest building in the world in which much of the terra-cotta was replaced with cast stone.<ref name=nycland />
At the completion of the building, the Woolworth Company occupied only one and a half floors of the building,<ref name=nycland /> but, as the owner, profited from renting space out to others, including the Irving Trust bank and Columbia Records. Columbia Records had moved into the building in 1913 and housed a recording studio in it. In 1917, Columbia made a recording of a dixieland band, the Original Dixieland Jass Band in this studio.
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. Until recently, that company kept a presence in the building through a Foot Locker store (Foot Locker is the successor to the Woolworth Company).
Prior to its 2001 destruction, the World Trade Center was often photographed in such a way that the Woolworth Building could be seen between 1 and 2 World Trade Center. After the September 11, 2001 attacks a few blocks away, the building was without electricity, water and telephone service for a few weeks and had broken windows and the top turret was damaged by falling rubble. 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, TTA Inc., Control Group Inc. and the New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies' Center for Global Affairs.
In popular culture
- The Woolworth Building has made some notable appearances in film. In the Disney film Enchanted, Narissa the dragon carries Robert up to the top of it. After killing the dragon, Robert and Giselle slide down. It is also featured in the 1979 film Kramer vs. Kramer, in which Billy asks his father (played by Dustin Hoffman) its name. In the film Cloverfield, it collapses after the monster critically damages it. The building is also mentioned near the beginning of 12 Angry Men, and appears as the headquarters of Mode magazine in Ugly Betty.
- In the novel Peak, the protagonist is arrested for climbing the Woolworth Building.
- The Lincoln American Tower in Memphis, Tennessee, built in 1924, is a small replica of the Woolworth Building, standing at one-third its height.
- Classic Woolworth's Store in Wilmington, Delaware
- "Big Town Big Picture: The Woolworth Building". New York Daily News (March 11, 2009), p.23
- "Designation List 164: The Woolworth Building", New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, April 12, 1983
- "Pride and Humility in the Woolworth Building and in Ourselves" by John Stern, from beautyofnyc.org
- The Woolworth Building from GreatBuildings.com
- Medieval New York website from Fordham University, with construction details and photo images of the Woolworth Building
- The Woolworth Building from NYC-Architecture.com