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Thread: Woolworth Building - 233 Broadway - by Cass Gilbert

  1. #46

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    So the orginal roof is gone?

  2. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by expose05
    So the orginal roof is gone?
    That isn't completely clear ...

    Either the copper cladding is gone or the copper that remained was covered up:

    From the article above:

    "Mr. Baird, like many New Yorkers, said he had always understood that the cladding of the Woolworth's rooftops was copper...

    "What everyone thought was copper hasn't been copper since before 1950."

    "Acid rain pretty much ate through the roof pretty quickly, and since then it's been covered in a green protective coating that matches the patina of oxidized copper."

  3. #48

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    From the Wall Street Journal (subscriber only, so no link):

    ***

    MASTERPIECE

    'The Cathedral of Commerce'

    Woolworth's 1913 skyscraper has been dwarfed in size but not in achievement
    By BRET STEPHENS

    December 10, 2005; Page P15

    'A Tower of Nickels and Dimes"; "The Cathedral of Commerce": When the Woolworth Building was completed on April 24, 1913, it was a national event. From the White House, President Woodrow Wilson pressed the button that set the building's 80,000 bulbs alight; dozens of congressmen, three senators and hundreds of financiers, tycoons and men of letters rode up to the new structure's 27th floor for a banquet that evening in honor of architect Cass Gilbert. "The Woolworth Building will be New York's true fame," said the Rev. S. Parker Cadman at the building's dedication. "It does not scrape the sky. It greets it."

    Fast-forward 92 years and ask a New Yorker where the Woolworth Building is or what it looks like: I'd wager 9 in 10 have no idea. The building became an icon mainly on account of its height -- 792 feet -- which made it, for 16 years, the tallest habitable structure in the world. Today, there are more than 100 buildings taller than it, a dozen of them in New York alone. Yet whatever the building has lost in comparative stature has done nothing to diminish the achievement it represents. The craftsmanship that went into the lobby's whimsical marble likenesses of Gilbert (clutching his building) and Frank Woolworth (counting his change) no longer exists. The skill it took to piece together the Byzantine mosaic on the lobby's ceiling is probably gone forever, too. If one measure of a masterpiece lies in the difficulty of replicating it, there is simply no skyscraper to equal it.

    Much is explained by the date, 1913, the eve of the First World War, probably the last year when the fruits of capitalist enterprise could be put so unabashedly in the service of a feudal conceit. Woolworth, the Sam Walton of his day, gave Gilbert a picture of London's Gothic-revival Victoria Tower (part of the Houses of Parliament) to serve as a model. Gilbert, according to historian Spencer Klaw, thought also of the high Gothic spire of the Brussels town hall. The effect both men desired was that the building should soar. Seen from the front, the Woolworth Building reaches nearly its full height with barely a setback. Only at the very top, as the glazed white terracotta exterior gives way to green-tinted copper, does the building recede toward its cupola, further giving the impression of being almost impossibly out of reach. Compare that with the Zoser-like step pyramids of so many Manhattan skyscrapers, which seem to go out of their way to obey the laws of gravity.

    The interior of the Woolworth Building is different. The barrel-vaulted lobby is more Romanesque than Gothic; as in an early Christian church, the tiled phoenixes in the ceiling mosaic symbolize resurrection -- in this case, Woolworth's from early business failures. As in a church, too, the side entrances to the lobby create a kind of transept, above which are two devotional-style murals to "Commerce" and "Labor." The materials are lavish: white marble from Carrara; yellow marble from Skyros; bronze for the elevator doors; Tiffany glass in the ceiling beyond the tiled vault. The overall effect -- warm, hushed and soft-hued -- perfectly offsets the monumentality of the building's exterior, just as the sculpted caricatures of Gilbert and Woolworth offset the heavy seriousness of the murals and mosaics.

    Behind the façade there is technology, the most impressive of its day. In order for its foundations to reach bedrock, Gilbert sank caissons more than 100 feet below street level. Every floor is fireproofed by layers of brick, steel and terracotta. The building is designed to withstand winds of 200 mph or more. The elevators, which still run on the original Otis machines, are a particular marvel. They can move at 900 feet per minute, about the speed of modern elevators. Among other safety features, the elevator shafts are designed to create an air cushion to prevent a falling cab from crashing to the ground. On Oct. 15, 1913, an elevator loaded with 7,500 pounds of freight was experimentally dropped down a shaft from the 45th floor. "There was no indication when examined later that any damage had been done to the car or its contents," reported a satisfied building engineer.

    And then there are the idiosyncrasies. Woolworth famously insisted that his building was 60 stories high, which in its day it was (counting the uninhabitable cupola as two floors). Today, however, there is no designated 42nd floor, and soon the 48th floor will be demolished to create a 47th floor with 19-foot ceilings, part of a plan by the building's current management to convert the upper floors into luxury residential units. At the same time, there are two 26th floors, one of them a sort of half-floor reminiscent of the 7½th floor in the film "Being John Malkovich." It's a dark place reached through a very small door.

    We live in a time in which great men no longer build great buildings. There is no "Walton Building" to rival the Woolworth; no "Gates Building" to rival the Chrysler. Instead, corporations increasingly prefer campuses to skyscrapers, while the skyscrapers that do get built are designed according to the consensus tastes of corporations and city planners. Sometimes the results are striking and felicitous, as in Manhattan's Citibank building, but usually they're not, as in the design for the new Freedom Tower.

    The Woolworth Building is something else entirely. A product of the vanity, ambition and quirks of a single man, it transcends and transforms all that with its majestic old-world grace. And at night, when its upper floors are spotlighted, it seems like an otherworldly lantern suspended from the sky. What a pity they just don't build them like they used to.

    ***

    (I know the image is small, but it is that small on the WSJ site, too. It is a larger image in the actual newspaper.)
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  4. #49
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    A GREAT building ... and so much better off now, ever since that hulk of a Post Office seen in the photo was torn down so many years ago.

  5. #50
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    A similar pic:


  6. #51

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    Downtown Express
    February 3 - 9, 2006

    Restaurant in the Woolworth Building

    As the full throttle of life picks up again around the City Hall and Financial District areas, it’s only natural that restaurants follow suit — and the newly opened Woolworth Tower Kitchen is ready to accommodate, says Sharif Adlouni, the restaurant’s co-owner.

    Adlouni, formerly of 17 Murray Restaurant, and Louis Adolfsen, of the law firm Melito & Adolfsen and who is also a co-owner, opened in December after first becoming interested in the space, which is located on the first floor of the landmark Woolworth Building, a couple of years ago.

    “It’s really important to have more businesses in this area,” Adlouni told Downtown Express on Wednesday, as he greeted the waiting patrons with a smile.

    The restaurant’s space on Broadway and Barclay had been vacant for six years, after the Coffee Cup, a diner, closed.

    The décor of the Kitchen is contemporary, though the framed portraits of the Woolworth Building that hang on the Kitchen’s walls pay homage to the restaurant’s historically rich host.

    The Kitchen’s chef is Robert Gushue, trained at the Culinary Institute of America trained chef. Dishes that range from bacon-wrapped sea scallops with pulled pork and cheddar grits to a simple hamburger or stake fries.

    “I love Downtown,” he said. “There’s no other place I’d rather be.”

    -Chad Smith

    Downtown Express is published by Community Media LLC.

  7. #52
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Viewing the Woolworth from the north at night it is apparent that the upper floors have been pretty much gutted as part of the renovation work: Temporary construction lights are visible in most of the windows in the tower.

  8. #53
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    I hope the floodlights will remain.

  9. #54
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    The Woolworth last Thursday, against a crystal blue sky took my breath away.(well, it always does that I guess)


  10. #55

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    Hasn't lost an ounce of its luster through the ages....I'll take one of these over 30 Hearst Towers any day. Thanks.

  11. #56

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    Yesterday


    Last year

  12. #57
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    The great juxtaposition shown in the first shot is about to be ruined forever by the rising hulk at 12 Barclay --

  13. #58

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    I briefly worked in the Woolworth Building this past winter break and the lobby is amazing and beautiful, I've never been in such a lobby before.

  14. #59

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    pictures please....








  15. #60
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    WOW!!!!! Can you imagine living here???!!!

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