View Full Version : Bankers Trust Building

August 5th, 2003, 03:56 PM
Does anyone know where I can find sketches of this building as well as its surrounding buildings? *I would appreciate all of the help I can get. *My email address is NHLNied27@aol.com * *Thank you all!

TLOZ Link5
August 5th, 2003, 06:07 PM
Not necessary to post it twice, man.

January 19th, 2007, 06:10 PM
This one is for JB ...

Bankers Trust: The Building Known for Its Ziggurat Top

Photographs from MetroHistory.com
WORTHY OF A PHARAOH The Bankers Trust Building at Wall and Nassau Streets
through the years: near its completion in 1912, far left; in 1944, middle; and in 1912, right.

nytimes.com (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/21/realestate/21scap.html?ref=realestate)

January 21, 2007

Streetscapes | Wall and Nassau

The ziggurat-topped Bankers Trust Building of 1912, at the northwest corner of Wall and Nassau Streets, is one of New York’s most picturesque skyscrapers, in part because of its contrast to the short J. P. Morgan & Company headquarters of 1914 diagonally across the intersection.

Setting aside appearances, the two buildings have a good bit in common. Both were designed by Trowbridge & Livingston, both are connected to J. Pierpont Morgan, and both are now in the hands of a development group headed by Shaya Boymelgreen.

Three years ago, he used the Morgan headquarters as a marketing office for his apartment conversion of 15 Broad Street just behind it, but Mr. Boymelgreen’s group is keeping the 39-story Bankers Trust Building for commercial use, even converting the lower floors to office condominiums.

A group of commercial bankers, Morgan among them, founded Bankers Trust in 1903 to take over certain functions like trust and estate work that were barred to commercial banks at the time. The business grew rapidly, and in 1910 the consortium filed plans for a 540-foot-tall headquarters at Wall and Nassau, with the three lower stories for the trust company and rental offices above.

Trowbridge & Livingston designed a chubby granite tower in the neo-Classical style topped not by a tempietto, a cupola or a spire — all used in previous high buildings — but a steep, massive pyramid of 24 steps. In 1912 Architecture magazine praised the unusual top, predicting that “it will be used a great many times more.”


Ruby Washington/The New York Times
At 39 stories, the building towers over the old Sub-Treasury
across Nassau Street, right. The Bankers Trust Building and
the J. P. Morgan & Company headquarters of 1914, diagonally
across the Wall and Nassau intersection, were both designed
by the firm of Trowbridge & Livingston.

Although long gone, the double-height banking level on the second floor had a particularly unusual feature: while the elevator shaft, set forward into the room, had the usual marble walls surrounding its lower half, the upper portion was covered only in plate glass. The article in Architecture called the enclosure “somewhat startling, and at the same time fascinating.”

Its elevators were originally enclosed in marble and,
unusual for the day, panels of plate glass.

In late 1911, The New York Times reported that J. Pierpont Morgan had an option on the 31st floor of the tower, the one with the surrounding balcony, at the base of the pyramid. Morgan let the option lapse, and Gale Harris, in her 1997 designation report for the Landmarks Preservation Commission, speculated on the reason: Morgan may have chosen not to take the space when he learned that antitrust investigations might occur.

The Bankers Trust Building opened in May 1912, but a month beforehand, according to accounts in The Times, a daredevil parachutist named Frederick R. Law jumped from the top, landing unhurt 40 seconds later on the roof of the old Sub-Treasury, at the northeast corner of Wall and Nassau Streets.

Although Morgan did not move to the Bankers Trust Building, he did hire Trowbridge & Livingston to build a new, ultrareserved headquarters for the Morgan bank at the southeast corner of the intersection, completed in 1914.
The firm later acquired the building at its rear, now known as 15 Broad.

In 1933, Bankers Trust built a tepid Art Deco wraparound addition designed by Shreve, Lamb & Harmon, giving the lower three-quarters of the tower an awkward hug. This appears to be the point at which the original 1912 lobby, with its glass elevator box, was demolished.

The legend that the 31st floor of the Bankers Trust Building, in recent years used as a restaurant, was Morgan’s private getaway is without foundation, but it’s as sticky as bubble gum on hot pavement. The paneling, fireplaces and decorative details of the rooms are regarded as evidence, but a 1912 article in The Times noted only a single black marble fireplace on the floor. The character of the finishes is perfectly consistent with the 1933 renovation by Shreve, Lamb & Harmon.

Edan Shiboleth, speaking for the Boymelgreen group, said that in addition to selling the lower floors, it was close to signing a lease with a restaurant to take over the 31st floor, which will again open up its views of the city to the public.

But things have changed. From the broad balcony, where in 1912 only clouds could interfere with the view, tall buildings now ring what has become a relatively puny perch. The 66-story Cities Service Building, a few blocks away, makes you feel as if you’re on the sidewalk.

What restaurant patrons will probably not get to see is the fascinating warren of storage spaces directly under the building’s ziggurat. Although the plaster there is falling, exposing the underlying brick construction, everything else appears to be just as it must have been in 1912, when small cubicles were rented out to tenants in the building. Each still has its original paneled door, plus a tiny wire-glass porthole to let in light.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

January 19th, 2007, 06:30 PM
The Bankers Trust Building opened in May 1912, but a month beforehand, according to accounts in The Times, a daredevil parachutist named Frederick R. Law jumped from the top, landing unhurt 40 seconds later on the roof of the old Sub-Treasury, at the northeast corner of Wall and Nassau Streets.
1912: Stuntman Parachutes Off the Statue of Liberty


Photo: Corbis
Law in an undated photograph

newsday.com (http://www.newsday.com/about/custom/nie/ny-ihny0121story,0,940681.htmlstory)
Cynthia Blair

On February 2, 1912, stuntman Frederick Rodman Law jumped off the torch of the Statue of Liberty, using a manually operated parachute called the Stevens Life-Pack. A movie company, Pathe, shot the stunt for a film and paid him $1,500.

By trade, Law was a steeplejack who built and repaired steeples and towers, but he became the first “Hollywood” stuntman. His daring cinematic feats included jumping into the Hudson River from a burning balloon that had been dynamited, jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge and leaping off the Bankers Trust Building at the corner of Broad and Wall Streets in Manhattan. In April 1912, he became the first person to jump from a hydroplane.

January 19th, 2007, 07:04 PM
The daring Mr. Law had a busy year in 1912 ...

February 2, 1912: The Statue of Liberty

April 14, 1912: The Brooklyn Bridge ...

... the FIRST film stuntman of importance, Frederick Rodman Law, jumped from Brooklyn Bridge. He was doubling for Pearl White’s co-stars in her famous action series made by Pathe.April 1912: The Bankers Trust Tower

April 1912: Hydroplane

July 25, 1912: The Queensboro Bridge (http://www.astorialic.org/starjournal/1910s/1912july_p.php) ...

On July 25, Rodman Law, the inventor of a new style of parachute, jumped from the Queensboro Bridge into the East River, as the stunt was recorded by a moving picture camera. Law had entertained New Yorkers with his leaps from the top of the Statue of Liberty and high buildings in Manhattan. There was a problem with this leap though: his parachute didn’t open. People on board the tugboat that was to pick him up were decidedly anxious about his fate. But Law jettisoned his unopened chute and held his arms close to his sides. He entered the water with scarcely a splash, and a few moments later his head bobbed above the surface. The tugboat picked him up, and he drove away. The jump was made during evening rush hour when riders on a Third Avenue trolley car witnessed Law’s jump from the bridge and gasped in horror.

January 19th, 2007, 07:14 PM
Seemingly Law's hard work paid off --

Daredevil Rodman Law

nytimes.com (http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/movie.html?v_id=236519)



It was not for nothing that pioneering parachutist F. Rodman Law was known to one and all as "Daredevil" Law. Even by modern standards, Law's aerial feats of bravery were quite impressive. Evidently, the motion picture industry thought so, too, inasmuch as Law was starred in several multi-reel actioners, including Fighting Death. Unlike his other films, Daredevil Rodman Law was unencumbered by such "necessary evils" as plot and romantic interest. Instead, the film concentrated on his many death-defying leaps from such heights as the Williamsburg Bridge and the 14th story of the Ansonia Hotel. Aiding and abetting "Daredevil" Law was his equally courageous female partner Constance Bennett -- no relation to the film star of the same name.
~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

January 19th, 2007, 07:41 PM
But apparently things didn't always turn out so well for the daredevil ...
Then there was the strange, but fully documented, case of Frederick Rodman Law, or just Rodman Law, alias the "Human Fly" and the "Human Bullet." Law was the brother of Ruth Law, a famous pilot, and was a movie stuntman who specialized in parachuting out of airplanes and burning balloons and off bridges, skyscrapers, and other edifices, including the Statue of Liberty.
On March 13, 1913, Law climbed into the top of a forty-four-foot-long skyrocket that was pointed straight up at the end of Williams Avenue in Jersey City, New Jersey. The thing had been packed with nine hundred pounds of gunpowder by its manufacturer, the International Fireworks Company (later the Unexcelled Fireworks Company of New York). Law, who sat in the nose of the rocket wearing goggles and what appeared to be a leather football helmet, announced that he intended to fly to 3,500 feet and then bail out. With a crowd of 150 people, including a movie cameraman and reporters from the Herald Tribune and The New York Times looking on, the "Human Bullet" told Samuel L. Serpico, the manager of International Fireworks, to "light the fuse when ready." Serpico did as he was told.
"After a few seconds" according to one witness, "there was a terrific explosion with a shock that threw most of the crowd to the ground [as] the big projectile burst into a thousand pieces."
Law was thrown thirty feet and landed unconscious, his hands and face scorched and his clothes torn, muddied, and charred. But he soon recovered from his injuries and continued to perform stunts, though never again in a rocket. http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/b/burrows-ocean.html


Rodman Law actually tries to fly with this home-made sky rocket of huge proportions.


As this photo indicates, Rodman's attempt to go skyward was a succesful failure.

He did not go very far, but he lived to tell about it.

You can see him lying in the middle of the wreckage.



January 19th, 2007, 08:12 PM
Frederick Rodman Law's sister, Ruth Law, was a pioneering aviatrix:

Ruth Bancroft Law (Oliver) 1887-1970


Ruth Law's Headless Curtiss


Women in Aviation (http://www.sil.si.edu/smithsoniancontributions/AirSpace/text/SSAS-0002.txt)

Ruth Law

Ruth Law, who enjoyed one of the longest and
most colorful flying careers of her day, probably
became interested in flying because of her brother,
Rodman Law, the "Human Fly." He once climbed
a tall building in New York and then was shot out
of a cannon wearing a parachute.

Ms. Law enrolled in the Burgess Flying School
in Boston in late June 1912. On her first plane ride,
on 1 July, she saw Harriet Quimby fall to her death.
Undaunted, however, she made her first solo flight
on 1 August. She also received hydroaeroplane
instruction and flew in her first exhibition in

After she received her license on 12 November,
she contracted to fly for the Clarendon Hotel at
Sea Breeze, Florida, for the winter. There she made
daily exhibition flights and carried passengers.
During the summer of 1913 she did the same at a
Newport, Rhode Island, resort. By this time she
had bought her own Wright airplane.
On 6 November 1913, on Staten Island, Ms. Law
made a twenty-minute moonlit flight, becoming
the first woman to fly at night.

Throughout 1914 and 1915 Ms. Law made exhibition
flights at resorts and meets throughout the East.

She sold her Wright aircraft in 1915 and bought a
"loop model" Curtiss pusher, which had the Curtiss wheel
controls. She had it fitted with Wright lever controls
because she was more familiar with them. On
17 January 1915, she gave her first public exhibition
of looping and aerobatic flying at Daytona Beach.

FIGURE 43. - Ruth Law with her brother, Rodman,
a trick parachutist and daredevil performer.
(SI photo A5251)

On 19-20 November 1916 Ms. Law made the
greatest flight of her career, setting three new
records: the American nonstop cross-country rec-
ord, the world nonstop cross-country record for
women, and the second best world nonstop cross-
country record. She left Chicago at 8:25 A.M. and
flew nonstop to Hornell, New York, where she
landed at 2:10 P.M. This distance of 590 miles
broke the American nonstop cross-country record
of 452 miles set by Victor Carlstromon 2 November.

Ms. Law left Hornell an hour later, after the
spark plugs in her plane had been changed by a
young Army lieutenant, "Hap" Arnold, and flew
on to Binghamton, where she spent the night. The
next morning she flew on to New York City, where
she landed at Governor's Island and was greeted by
officials of the U.S. Army and the Aero Club of
America. The end of the flight was perhaps the
most eventful part. Ms. Law had not refueled at
Binghamton, and by the time she was over Man-
hattan, her engine began to cut out. To reach
Governor's Island, she had to bank the airplane
several times to get the fuel from the tank to the

Ms. Law used her open Curtiss pusher for the
flight with a small crude shield around her feet to
protect them from the cold. She had designed a
supplementary fuel system for the flight, increasing
her aircraft's capacity from eight to fifty-three
gallons by use of auxiliary tanks. She also had
improvised a device that enabled her to read maps
without relinquishing the controls. She designed a
special map case in which she inserted a scroll of
appropriate strips from Geodetic Survey maps; she
could keep her left hand on the vertical control
while holding the right control with her knee long
enough to turn the map case knobs with her right

Ms. Law was the guest of honor at two large
dinners in New York several weeks after her
historic cross-country flight. On 2 December,
President and Mrs. Wilson, several cabinet members,
and many aviation dignitaries attended a
dinner for her at the Hotel Waldorf.

FIGURE 44. - Airplanes owned by Ruth Law:
top, the Wright plane in which she performed at resorts
and air meets throughout the country;
bottom, the Curtiss pusher modified with Wright-type
controls that she used for her exhibition flights.
(SI photo A44433; courtesy of Rare Birds, Inc.)

During that same week the Statute of Liberty was
spotlighted at night for the first time, and Ms. Law
gave a spectacular performance around it with the
illuminated word "Liberty" on the bottom of her
aircraft. She also gave an aerial salute to the
president in his yacht, spinning down toward it and
then pulling up about two hundred feet above it.

On 18 December the Aero Club of America and
the New York Civic Forum feted her at the Hotel
Astor. The toastmaster was Adm. Robert E. Peary.
Also attending was the famous explorer Roald
Amundsen. Ms. Law was presented with a $2500
check, and Miss Eleanor Gates, one of the speakers,
summed up the evening: "It is easy to get a dinner
if you are a man. You get one if you are a such-and-
such degree Mason, or a naughty Elk, or just
because it's time to have another dinner. But for a
woman to sit in glory at the Hotel Astor she must
do something superhuman".

FIGURE 45. - One of Ruth Law's spectacular night-time performances
when she looped with flares attached to her aircraft;
inset, the aviatrix, Ruth Law.
(SI photo 77-706)

In January 1917 Ms. Law sailed for Europe to
observe aviation advances there. Since her Chicago
to New York flight, she had been able to earn as
much as $9,000 a week for her exhibition flights.

Although she, like the other U.S. female pilots,
was refused permission to fly in combat in World
War I, she was, however, the first woman allowed
to wear a noncommissioned Army officer's uniform,
and she participated in recruiting tours for the
Army and Navy. She also gave exhibition flights
to help raise money for the Red Cross and Liberty
Loan drives. During one of these flights, on 28
September 1917, she set a new women's altitude
record of 14,700 feet.

After the war she made a tour of Japan, China,
and the Philippines, and in April 1919 carried the
first airmail to Manila.

FIGURE 46. - A pose of Ruth Law, the first woman in the
United States authorized to wear a noncommissioned officer's
uniform, photographed at the Hotel McAlpin in New York,
30 June 1917, during a recruiting drive for the Army and the
(SI photo 77-708)

FIGURE 47. - The uniform and Curtiss plane, trademarks of Ruth Law's
contributions to recruiting and to Red Cross and Liberty Loan drives.
(SI photo A5532)


By the time the United States entered World War I
women had firmly established themselves as permanent
participants in the field of aviation.

The 1917 Areo Club of America Bulletin listed ten women

who were holders of pilot's licenses:
Certificate Number - Pilot

37 - Harriet Quimby
44 - Matilde E. Moisant
133 - Julia Clark
148 - Katherine Stinson
173 - Bernetta A. Miller
188 - Ruth Bancroft Law
301 - Mrs. Richberg Hornsby
303 - Marjorie Stinson
561 - Dorothy Rice Peirce
633 - Helen Hodge


An Early Bird Plaque with the date of the person's flight
was awarded to each member.

This one belonged to Ruth Law,
one of the most famous Pioneer pilots.

January 19th, 2007, 08:52 PM
I know I'm way off-topic now, but at this point what the heck!

Miss Ruth Law (http://www.loc.gov/shop/index.php?action=cCatalog.showItem&cid=14&scid=162&iid=1127) ...

Probably taken after her record breaking long-distance flight from Chicago to Hornell, N.Y. in 1916 ...

Herbert Photos, New York. 1916

The Wright was Ruth Law's first airplane:


There is a well-reviewed (http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/0613036093) children's book from 1993 about Ruth and her flight from Chicago to NYC:


Ruth Law's Flying Circus, 1921 ...

Missouri State Archives

Here are a couple more pics of Ruth Law and her aircraft from http://www.airminded.net/ (http://www.airminded.net/) ...

Ruth Law's Curtiss Headless Pusher (Photo: Florida State Archives) :


Ruth Law's Curtiss Headless Pusher (Photo: Dave Cadorette) :


Ruth Law (Oliver) & Curtiss Headless (Photo: Unknown) :


January 19th, 2007, 09:15 PM
1912: Stuntman Parachutes Off the Statue of Liberty


Photo: Corbis

Law in an undated photograph

From Popular Mechanics magazine -- April, 1912 ...