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Woolworth Building

The Woolworth Building is an early American skyscraper at 233 Broadway, Manhattan, New York City. Designed by architect Cass Gilbert and constructed between 1910 and 1912, it was the tallest building in the world at the time of its opening in 1913, with a height of 792 feet (241 m). More than a century after its construction, it remains one of the 100 tallest buildings in the United States as well as one of the 30 tallest buildings in New York City.

Woolworth Building
Color photo of a skyscraper with trees in the foreground and a tall but significantly shorter building to the left
Woolworth Building in November 2005
Record height
Tallest in the world from 1913 to 1930[I]
Preceded byMetropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower
Surpassed by40 Wall Street
General information
Location233 Broadway
Manhattan, New York City
Construction started1910
CompletedJuly 1, 1912[1]
OpeningApril 24, 1913
CostUS$13.5 million (equivalent to US$342,341,379 in 2018)
OwnerKC Holdings, Inc.
Roof792 feet (241 m)
Technical details
Floor count57
Design and construction
ArchitectCass Gilbert
Structural engineerGunvald Aus and Kort Berle
Renovating team
Renovating firmEhrenkrantz Group
Woolworth Building
Woolworth Building is located in New York City
Woolworth Building
Woolworth Building is located in New York
Woolworth Building
Woolworth Building is located in the US
Woolworth Building
Coordinates40°42′44″N 74°00′29″W / 40.71222°N 74.00806°W / 40.71222; -74.00806Coordinates: 40°42′44″N 74°00′29″W / 40.71222°N 74.00806°W / 40.71222; -74.00806
Area0.5 acres (0.2 ha)
NRHP reference #66000554
Significant dates
Added to NRHPNovember 13, 1966
Designated NHLNovember 13, 1966
Designated NYCLApril 12, 1983

The Woolworth Building has been a National Historic Landmark since 1966,[6][7][8] and a New York City landmark since 1983.[9]



The Woolworth Building was designed in the neo-Gothic style by the architect Cass Gilbert. Originally designed to be 420 feet (130 m) high, the building was eventually elevated to 792 feet (241 m).[10] When completed in 1913, the Woolworth Building was 60 stories tall.[11]

Given its resemblance to European Gothic cathedrals, the structure was called "The Cathedral of Commerce" by the Reverend S. Parkes Cadman in a booklet of the same title published in 1916.[11][12][1] It remained the tallest building in the world until the construction of 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler Building, also in New York City, in 1930.[13] An observation deck was located on the 57th floor. It was patronized by an estimated 300,000 visitors per year, but was closed as a security measure in 1941, after the Pearl Harbor attack.[14][15]


The building's crown

The building's tower, flush with the main frontage on Broadway, joins an office block base with a narrow interior court for light.[11][16]:12

The base's eastern boundary is on Broadway, and the building occupies the entire block between Park Place to the north and Barclay Street to the south.[17] The base contains two "wings" extending westward, one each on the Park Place and Barclay Street frontages, which form a rough U-shape when combined with the Broadway frontage. The U-shaped base is approximately 30 stories tall. On the part of the base facing Broadway, as well as the tower above it, there are three bays; the left and right bays have two windows per floor, while the center bay has three windows.[16]:13

The tower rises an additional 30 stories above the eastern side of the base, abutting Broadway. It contains setbacks on the Park Place and Barclay Street sides, though not on the Broadway side. There is another setback near the top of the tower. Above the sixtieth story, the tower tapers into a pyramidal roof.[16]:13


Except for the lowest four floors, the exterior of the Woolworth Building was cast in limestone-colored, glazed architectural terracotta panels.[11][16]:12 The lowest floors are clad in limestone. F. W. Woolworth initially wanted to clad the skyscraper in granite, while Gilbert wanted to use limestone. The decision to use terracotta for the facade was based on both aesthetic and functional concerns. Not only was terracotta fireproof, Gilbert believed that terracotta would be a purely ornamental addition, clarifying the Woolworth Building's steel construction.[16]:12[18]

The Atlantic Terra Cotta Company provided the original terracotta cladding.[19][20]:205 During construction, Gilbert requested that Atlantic Terra Cotta use an office adjacent to his own while it was drawing several hundred designs. He also asked that an outside firm, Donnelly and Ricci, create full-size designs based on Atlantic Terra Cotta's models.[20]:205 In 1932, Atlantic Terra Cotta carried out a comprehensive cleaning campaign of the Woolworth's facade to remove blackening caused by the soot and pollution of the city.[21] The building's facade was again restored between 1977 and 1981 by the Ehrenkrantz Group.[12] During the 1977–1981 renovation, much of the terracotta was replaced with concrete and Gothic ornament was removed.[9]


Engineers Gunvald Aus and Kort Berle designed the steel frame, supported on massive caissons that penetrate to the bedrock. In order to give the structure a sturdy foundation, the builders used metal tubes 19 feet (5.8 m) in diameter filled with concrete. These tubes were driven into the ground with a pneumatic caisson process to anchor the foundations to the bedrock.[22]:PDF p. 5[23] The 69 caissons range in depth from 100 to 120 feet (30 to 37 m). Because the slope of the bedrock was so sharp, steps had to be carved into the rock before the caissons could be sunk into the ground.[24] Each column carries a load of 24 short tons per square foot (234 t/m2), supporting the building's overall weight of 233,000 short tons (208,000 long tons).[22]:PDF p. 5[23]

Strongly articulated piers, which carry right to the pyramidal cap without intermediate cornices, give the building its upward thrust. Portal braces on the building's exterior direct crosswinds downward toward the ground, rather than into the building. The copper roof is connected to the Woolworth Building's steel superstructure, which serves to electrically ground the roof.[22]:PDF p. 6 The Gothic detailing concentrated at the highly visible crown is over-scaled, and the building's silhouette could be made out from several miles away. Gilbert's choice of the Gothic style was described as "an expression of the verticality of the tower form", and as Gilbert himself later wrote, the style was "light, graceful, delicate and flame-like".[16]:10–11

When the Woolworth Building was being erected, Gilbert considered several proposals for exterior lighting to emphasize the structure's form and size. These included placing four powerful searchlights atop nearby buildings and a constantly rotating lamp at the apex of the Woolworth Building's roof. Ultimately, the builders decided to erect nitrogen lamps and reflectors from the 31st to 60th floors, and having the intensity of the lighting increase with height.[16]:13


Part of the lobby

At the time of construction, the Woolworth Building had over 2,000 offices.[23] The exterior contained more than 5,000 windows.[11][25] Because the structure was built before air conditioning became common, every office is located within 10 feet of a window.[26] Woolworth's private office on the 24th floor, revetted in marble in the French Empire style, has been preserved.[1]

The Woolworth Building contains a system of high speed elevators, which were innovative in that there were "express" elevators, stopping only at certain floors, and "local" elevators, stopping at every floor between a certain range.[17] The Woolworth Building was the first structure to have its own power plant; the plant could support 50,000 people.[17][22]:PDF p. 6 The building also had a dedicated heating plant with six boilers.[23][26] A dedicated water system was proposed during construction, but workers abandoned construction after unsuccessfully digging 1,500 feet (460 m) into Manhattan's bedrock.[26]


The ornate, cruciform lobby, known as the "arcade", has been described as being "cathedral-like"[17] and lauded as "one of the most spectacular of the early 20th century in New York City".[9] It consists of two 2-story-high passageways with barrel-vaulted ceilings. One passageway runs between the arcade's west wing at Woolworth Building's "staircase hall" and the east wing at Broadway. The other runs between the north wing at Park Place and the south wing at Barclay Street. A mezzanine crosses the arcade's north and south wings.[27]:11 Where the passageways intersect perpendicularly, there is a vaulted ceiling.[27]:11[12] The walls of this intersection vault are laid out in an octagonal shape, with mailboxes at the four "corners". There are decorated revolving doors at the ends of the arcade's north and south wings. The eastern and western walls of the arcade are both divided by two bays with round arches, and there are four elevators on each wall.[27]:11

Detail of grotesque

The lobby is covered in veined marble from the island of Skyros in Greece.[9][12] The ceilings are decorated with glass mosaics that contain blue, green, gold, and red hues. There are other Gothic-style decorations in the lobby, including on the cornice and the bronze fittings.[27]:11 There are several grotesques located at points where the arcade's north and south wings intersect the mezzanine; they depict major figures involved in the Woolworth Building's construction. These ornaments include Gilbert with a model of the building, Aus taking a girder's measurements, and Woolworth holding nickels and dimes.[9][12][27]:11 Two ceiling murals, titled Labor and Commerce, are located above the mezzanine where it crosses the south and north wings, respectively.[9][12][27]:12

The staircase hall is a two-story room located to the west of the arcade. It consists of the ground level, which contains storefronts, as well as a mezzanine level above it. A staircase leads westward from the arcade to a mezzanine, where the entrance to the Irving National Exchange Bank office was formerly located. It contains a stained-glass skylight surrounded by the names of several nations.[27]:12 There is a smaller space west of the staircase hall with a one-story-high ceiling. This room contains a coffered ceiling with a blue-green background. The crossbeams contain Roman portrait heads, while the cornice contains generic sculpted grotesques.[27]:12


The basement of the Woolworth Building contains an unused bank vault, restaurant, and barbershop, as well as a closed entrance to the New York City Subway's Park Place station, served by the 2 and ​3 trains.[26]

A private pool for F. W. Woolworth used to exist in the basement.[28] The pool was proposed as early as 1910.[29] The pool, measuring 15 by 55 feet (4.6 by 16.8 m), was later drained.[28][30]


The Lincoln American Tower in Memphis, Tennessee, built in 1924, is a small replica of the building, standing at one-third its height.[31]



Frank Woolworth, an entrepreneur who had become successful because of his "Five-and-Dimes" (5- and 10-cent stores), began planning a new headquarters for the F. W. Woolworth Company in 1910. Around the same time, Woolworth's friend Lewis Pierson was having difficulty getting shareholder approval for the merger of his Irving National Bank and the rival New York Exchange Bank. Woolworth offered to acquire shares in New York Exchange Bank and vote in favor of the merger if Pierson agreed to move the combined banks' headquarters to a new building he was planning as F. W. Woolworth Company's headquarters.[16]:3 Having received commitment from the banks, Woolworth acquired a corner site on Broadway and Park Place in Lower Manhattan, opposite City Hall.[9] The entrepreneur briefly considered purchasing a plot at West Broadway and Reade Street, a few blocks north of the Woolworth Building's current site, but decided against it due to the prestige that a Broadway address provided.[20]:64–65

Woolworth and Irving National Exchange Bank then set up the Broadway-Park Place Company to construct and finance the proposed structure. Initially, the bank was supposed to gradually purchase the company's stock until it owned the entire company, and thus, the Woolworth Building. Irving would be able to manage the 18 floors of rentable space on a 25-year lease.[20]:65 While negotiations to create the Broadway-Park Place Company were ongoing, Woolworth and his real estate agent Edward J. Hogan purchased several parcels from the Trenor Luther Park Estate and other owners.[20]:65[32] The entirety of the current building's footprint, a rectangular lot, had been acquired by April 15, 1910, at a total cost of $1.65 million.[20]:65[9][33]

The Woolworth Building under construction in February 1912

Woolworth commissioned Cass Gilbert to design the new building.[9] There are few print documents that indicate early correspondence between Woolworth and Gilbert, and news articles as late as March 1910 mentioned that no architect had been chosen.[20]:68 Gilbert later mentioned that he had received the commission for the Woolworth Building after getting a phone call from Woolworth one day.[20]:68 The architect had recently finished designing the nearby Broadway–Chambers Building and 90 West Street,[34] and Woolworth admired the architecture of the latter.[20]:66 Gilbert was originally retained to design a standard 12- to 16-story commercial building for Woolworth. However, Woolworth quickly desired to surpass the nearby New York World Building, which sat on the other side of City Hall Park and stood 20 stories and 350 feet (110 m). A drawing by Thomas R. Johnson, dated April 22, 1910, shows a 30-story building rising from the site.[34] Due to the change in plans, the organization of the Broadway-Park Place Company was rearranged. Woolworth would now be the major partner, contributing $1 million of the planned $1.5 million cost. The Irving Bank would pay the remainder, and it would take up a 25-year lease for the ground floor, fourth floor, and basement.[20]:66

By September 1910, Gilbert had designed an even taller structure, with a 40-story tower on Park Place adjacent to a shorter 25-story annex, yielding a 550-foot (170 m)-tall building.[16]:3 The next month, Gilbert's latest design had evolved into a 45-story tower roughly the height of the nearby Singer Building.[34] After the latest design, Woolworth wrote to Gilbert in November 1910 and asked for the building's height to be increased to 620 feet (190 m), which was 8 feet (2.4 m) taller than Singer Building, Lower Manhattan's tallest building at the time. Woolworth was inspired by his travels in Europe, where he would constantly be asked about the Singer Building. He decided that housing his company in an even taller building would provide invaluable advertising for the F. W. Woolworth Company and make it renowned worldwide. This design, unveiled to the public the same month, was a 45-story tower rising 625 feet (191 m).[16]:3[35] Referring to the revised plans, Woolworth said, "I do not want a mere building. I want something that will be an ornament to the city."[35]

Even after the height was unveiled, Woolworth still yearned to make the building even taller as it was now close to the 700-foot (210 m) height of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower, the tallest building in New York City and the world at the time. On December 20, 1910, Woolworth sent a team of surveyors to measure the building's height and come up with a precise measurement so he could make his skyscraper taller.[34] He then ordered Gilbert to revise the building's design so as to reach 710 feet (220 m) or 712 feet (217 m), despite ongoing worries over whether the additional height would be worth the increased financial cost. In order to fit the larger base that a taller tower necessitated, Woolworth bought the remainder of the frontage on Broadway between Park Place and Barclay Street.[16]:4

By January 18, 1911, Woolworth and Hogan had acquired the final site for the project, totaling $4.5 million. In a New York Times article two days later, Woolworth said that his building would rise 750 feet (230 m) to its tip.[34] In order to fit the correct architectural proportions, Gilbert redesigned the building to its current 792-foot (241 m) height.[10] Renderings by illustrator Hughson Hawley completed in April 1911 are the first official materials that reflect this final height.[34] Both Woolworth and Pierson had strict requirements for the design of the structure, and Gilbert's notes describe late-night conversations that he had with both men. The current design of the lobby, with its arcade, reflected these conflicting pressures.[27]:8


Before beginning construction, Woolworth hired New York photographer Irving Underhill to document the construction of the building. These photographs were distributed to Woolworth's stores nationwide to generate enthusiasm for the project.[1]

The Woolworth Building under construction in April 1912

In September 1910, wrecking crews demolished the five and six-story structures which previously occupied the site.[36] Construction officially began on November 4, 1910 with excavation by The Foundation Company, using a contract negotiated personally by Frank Woolworth.[37] The start of construction instantly raised the site's value from $2.25 million to $3.2 million.[23] The contract of over $1,000,000 was believed at the time to be the largest contract for foundation construction ever awarded in the world.[38]

It took months for Woolworth to decide upon the general construction company. George A. Fuller's Fuller Company was well experienced and had practically invented skyscraper construction, but Louis J. Horowitz's Thompson-Starrett Company was local to New York and despite being newer, Horowitz had worked for Fuller before so had a similar knowledge base.[39] On April 20, 1911, Thompson-Starrett won the contract with a guaranteed construction price of $4,308,500 for the building's frame and structural elements. The company was also paid $300,000 for their oversight and management work.[37]

The construction process involved hundreds of workers, and daily wages ranged from $1.50 for laborers to $4.50 for skilled workers.[23] By August 1911, the building's foundations were complete; construction of the skyscraper's steel frame began August 15. The steel beams and girders used in the framework weighed so much that, in order to prevent the streets from caving-in, a group of surveyors examined the streets on the route along which the beams would be transported.[22]:PDF p. 5 Steel for the building was provided by the American Bridge Company from their foundries in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and took over 45 weeks to manufacture.[40]

The first above-ground steel had been erected by October 1911,[24] and installation of the building's terracotta began on February 1, 1912.[41][20]:202 The building rose at the rate of 1½ stories a week and the steelworkers set a speed record for assembling 1,153 tons of steel in six consecutive eight-hour days.[42] By April 6, 1912, the steel frame had reached the top of the base at the 30th floor and work then commenced on constructing the tower of the Woolworth Building. Steel reached the 47th floor by May 30 and the official topping out ceremony took place two weeks ahead of schedule on July 1, 1912, as the last rivet was driven into the summit of the tower.[1][23][42]

Construction was completed in 1912 and the building opened on April 24, 1913. Woolworth held a grand dinner for over 900 guests and President Woodrow Wilson turned the lights on by way of a button in Washington, D.C. at exactly 7:30 p.m. EST.[11][15] On completion, the Woolworth Building topped the record set by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower as the world's tallest building, a distinction it held until 1930.[15]

The final estimated construction cost was US$13.5 million, up from initial estimates of US$5 million for the shorter versions of the skyscraper.[1] This was divided into $5 million for the land, $1 million for the foundation, and $7 million for the structure. Woolworth provided $5 million, while investors provided the remainder, and financing was completed by August 1911.[43] By May 1914, Woolworth had purchased all of the Broadway-Park Place Company's shares from the Irving National Exchange Bank, thus owning the building outright.[1]

Woolworth ownershipEdit

Woolworth Building c.1913

The building was declared ready for occupancy on May 1, 1913 and Woolworth began advertising the offices for rent beginning at $4.00 per square foot.[44] By 1914, the building was generating over $1.3 million a year in rents for the F. W. Woolworth Company. By the 1920s, the building had more than a thousand different tenants, who generally occupied suites of one or two rooms.[44]

During World War I, only one of the Woolworth Building's then-14 elevators was turned on, and many lighting fixtures in hallways and offices were turned off. This resulted in about a 70% energy reduction compared to peacetime requirements.[45] This policy was reinstated during World War II, ten of the building's 24 elevators were temporarily disabled in 1944 due to a shortage in coal.[46]

The Atlantic Terra Cotta Company cleaned the Woolworth Building's facade extensively in 1932.[21] The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission considered giving the Woolworth Building official city-landmark status in 1970. It ultimately declined to do so because of the F. W. Woolworth Company's opposition to such a measure, as well as the increased costs and scrutiny.[47] The F. W. Woolworth Company commissioned an appraisal of the building's facade in 1975 and found serious deterioration in the building's terracotta. Many of the blocks of terracotta had loosened or cracked from the constant expansion and contraction caused by New York's climate.[48]

In 1977, the F. W. Woolworth Company began a 5-year restoration of the building's terracotta and limestone facade that was completed in 1982. When the work began it was expected to cost just $8 million, but eventually amounted to over $22 million. Much of the renovation was financed through an $11.4 million tax break from the New York City government.[49] Initially, the company had considered replacing the entire terracotta facade with concrete to prevent further deterioration, but backed away from the plan due to cost and potential backlash from preservationists. The renovation involved the replacement of roughly one-fifth of the building's terracotta surface and all of its 2,843 windows by Turner Construction under a plan by the New York architectural firm Ehrenkrantz Group. Since terracotta had become rare in the 1970s, few manufacturers remained to supply replacement tiles so the company was forced to replace 26,000 of the tiles with concrete lookalikes. Similarly, the original copper windows were replaced with aluminum frames which allowed them to be opened, whereas the originals were sealed in place. The company also removed some decorative flying buttresses near the tower's crown and refaced four tourelles in aluminum due to damage.[48] A year later, in 1983, the Landmarks Preservation Commission revisited the building and granted landmark protection to its exterior and facade.[47]

The building was owned by the F. W. Woolworth Company (later Venator Group) until 1998. After struggling financially for years and with no need for a trophy office building, Venator Group began discussing a sale of the building in 1996.[50] On April 28, 1998, the Venator Group announced plans to sell the building and in June 1998 sold it to Steve Witkoff's Witkoff Group and Lehman Brothers for $155 million.[51][52] Along with the sale, the F. W. Woolworth Company shrunk its space in the building from eight floors to four; this was a sharp contrast to the 25 floors that the company had occupied at its peak. Witkoff also agreed to license the Woolworth name and invest $30 million in renovating the exterior and interior of the building.[30]

Witkoff GroupEdit

The Woolworth Building, right, in 1985; the former World Trade Center can be seen at left

After purchasing the building, the Witkoff Group repositioned the building to attempt to attract entertainment and technology companies. In April 2000, the Venator Group officially moved their headquarters out of the building to 112 West 34th Street.[53] In October 2000, the company proposed a 2-story addition to the 29th-floor setbacks on the north and south sides of the tower, to be designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, who were also leading the renovation of the building. However, the proposal was unanimously voted down by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.[54]

The company unveiled an ambitious plan in November 2000 that would have seen the top 27 floors of the building converted into 75 condominiums, including a 5-story penthouse. The plan also would have included a new residential lobby on Park Place, a 100-space garage, a 75-seat underground screening room underground, and a spa in the basement.[53] The developers planned to spend $60 to $70 million on the conversion and planned to have occupancy ready by August 2002. However, opposition from the Landmarks Preservation Commission due to exterior changes to the roof, as well as the September 11 attacks on the nearby World Trade Center. meant the conversion plan was never executed.

Prior to the September 11 attacks, 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.[55] After the attacks occurred only 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.[56] New York Times reporter David W. Dunlap wrote in 2006 that security guard had asked him to leave within twelve seconds of entering the Woolworth Building.[57] However, there was renewed interest in restoring public access to the Woolworth Building during planning for the building's centennial celebrations. The lobby reopened to public tours in 2014, when Woolworth Tours started accommodating groups for 30- to 90-minute tours. The tours were part of a partnership between Cass Gilbert's great-granddaughter, Helen Post Curry, and Witkoff's vice president for development, Roy A. Suskin.[58]

Residential conversionEdit

On July 31, 2012, an investment group led by Alchemy Properties, a New York developer, bought the top 30 floors of the landmark skyscraper for $68 million from the Witkoff Group and Cammeby's International.[59] The firm planned to renovate the space into 33 luxury apartments and convert the penthouse into a five-level living space.[60] The lower 28 floors are still owned by the Witkoff Group and Cammeby International, who planned to maintain them as office space. The project was expected to cost approximately $150 million including the $68 million purchase price.[61]

The renovation included many restorations and changes to the building's interior. Two of the elevator shafts were terminated at the 29th floor, allowing the residences above extra floor space.[61] The building's new interiors were designed by Thierry Despont and Eve Robinson with Miele appliances and custom cabinetry. Each unit also received space in a wine cellar in the building's basement, along with access to a restoration of Woolworth’s 55-foot long private lap pool. The 29th floor was converted to an amenity floor named the "Gilbert Lounge" after architect Cass Gilbert, while the 30th floor hosts a fitness facility.[61]

In August 2014, the New York Attorney General's office approved Alchemy's offering plan for condos at the newly branded Woolworth Tower Residences.[62] The $110 million price tag for the building's penthouse unit is the highest asking price ever for an apartment in downtown Manhattan.[63] If sold, the unit would surpass the record $50.9 million penthouse at Ralph Thomas Walker's Walker Tower, and even the $100.5 million record price for a Manhattan penthouse set by Michael Dell at Extell's One57 in 2014.[64] Construction of the conversion took longer than expected since workers couldn’t attach a construction hoist to the building’s landmarked facade without damaging it and couldn't use interior elevators due to both the active office tenants on the lower floors and the regular public tours of the landmarked lobby.[65] The conversion is expected to be complete by February or March 2019, over six and a half years after Alchemy bought the property.


Seen from the east

At the building's completion, the F. W. Woolworth Company occupied only one and a half floors of the building.[9] However, as the owner, the Woolworth Company profited from renting space out to others, including the Irving National Exchange Bank and Columbia Records. Columbia Records moved into the building in 1913 and housed a recording studio in it.[66] In 1917, Columbia made what are considered the first jazz recordings, by the Original Dixieland Jass Band, in this studio.[67][68] Another early tenant was the Irving Trust Company, which occupied the first four floors. It had a large banking room on the second floor accessible directly from a grand staircase in the lobby, vaults in the basement, offices on the third-floor mezzanine, and a board room on the fourth floor.[69]

The inventor Nikola Tesla also occupied an office in the Woolworth Building for a year; he was evicted because he could not pay his rent.[26]

The structure has a long association with higher education, housing a number of Fordham University schools in the early 20th century. The New York University School of Professional Studies' Center for Global Affairs leased space on the second, third, and fourth floors. in the first decade of the 21st century[70][71] Other tenants included, among other, TTA Inc., Control Group Inc., and American Institute of Graphic Arts.

During World War II, the Kellex Corporation, part of the Manhattan Project to develop nuclear weapons, was based here.[72]

In popular cultureEdit


  • In Applause (1929), April (Joan Peers) and her sailor boyfriend Tony (Henry Wadsworth), are sightseeing atop a tall building. April: "Look, there's the Woolworth building". Tony: "That's some sight isn't it", April: "It's wonderful". Tony: "You're wonderful".
  • The film Five and Ten (1931) is loosely based on Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton and has many references to "the tower" that is being built. The main characters, played by Marion Davies and Leslie Howard, get stranded overnight atop the skyscraper.
  • In Winner Take All (1932), Jimmy (James Cagney) sends Peggy (Marian Nixon) a post card with the picture of the Woolworth Building.
  • In On the Town (1949), one of the sailors on leave in Manhattan (Frank Sinatra) uses an out-of-date guidebook which states that the Woolworth Tower's is the tallest building in the world.
  • In Singin' in the Rain (1952), set in 1927, Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) laments the colossal failure of his latest film, "The Dueling Cavalier" saying after its release, nobody would come to see him jump off the Woolworth Building into a damp rag.
  • In Spider-Man 2 (2004), Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) delivers a number of pizzas to a receptionist (Emily Deschanel) at the building.
  • In the Disney film Enchanted (2007), the building is the site of the film's grand climax.
  • In the opening scenes of Cloverfield (2008), the building is seen collapsing after Clover critically damages it, causing a dust cloud to flood through nearby streets.
  • In Baz Luhrmann's film adaptation of The Great Gatsby (2013), Nick Carraway works in the building as a stock broker for Chase. An early scene shows a spectacular tilt down from the top of the building.
  • In the movie Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them (2016), the Magical Congress of the United States of America is concealed from No-Maj view inside the building itself.[73]

Video gamesEdit


  • In the novel Peak (2007), the protagonist is arrested for climbing the building.
  • In Langston Hughes' poem "Negro" the narrator has made mortar for the building.


  • The building is shown as the headquarters of Meade Publications in the 2006 television series Ugly Betty.[74]
  • Exterior shots of the building were used to establish the headquarters of fictional cable television channel "The Explorer's Channel" which employed Paul Buchman (Paul Reiser) in season four of the 1990s sitcom Mad About You.


  • The sheet for the song Woolworth Rag by Henri Klickmann shows an artwork of the Woolworth Building in the cover.

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ a b c d e f g Sutton, Philip. "The Woolworth Building: The Cathedral of Commerce". Blogs. New York Public Library. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  2. ^ "Woolworth Building". CTBUH Skyscraper Database.
  3. ^ Woolworth Building at Emporis
  4. ^ "Woolworth Building". SkyscraperPage.
  5. ^ Woolworth Building at Structurae
  6. ^ "Woolworth Building". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. September 23, 2007. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011. Retrieved August 31, 2011.
  7. ^ Patricia Heintzelman and Cecil McKithan (January 6, 1978). "The Woolworth Building" (PDF). National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination. National Park Service.
  8. ^ "The Woolworth Building--Accompanying 3 photos, exterior, from 1975". National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination. National Park Service. January 6, 1978. Retrieved August 31, 2011.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission; Dolkart, Andrew S.; Postal, Matthew A. (2009), Postal, Matthew A., ed., Guide to New York City Landmarks (4th ed.), New York: John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 978-0-470-28963-1, p. 25.
  10. ^ a b Gilbert, C.; Heilbrun, M.; Heilbrun, P.M.; New-York Historical Society; Hardy, H.; Gotbaum, B. (2000). Inventing the Skyline: The Architecture of Cass Gilbert. Columbia University Press. p. 260. ISBN 978-0-231-11872-9. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
  11. ^ a b c d e f "Study for Woolworth Building, New York". World Digital Library. December 10, 1910. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  12. ^ a b c d e f White, Norval & Willensky, Elliot (2000), AIA Guide to New York City (4th ed.), New York: Three Rivers Press, ISBN 978-0-8129-3107-5, p. 67.
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  14. ^ Pitrone, J.M. (2003). F.W. Woolworth and the American Five and Dime: A Social History. McFarland, Incorporated. p. 120. ISBN 978-0-7864-1433-8. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
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External linksEdit

Preceded by
Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower
Tallest building in the world
Succeeded by
40 Wall Street
Tallest building in the United States