As the Woolworth Building turns a hefty 100 years old today?kudos are in order, by the way, on making it this far?do peruse an appropriately numbered selection of 100 images depicting this undeniably iconic part of our cityscape. (We know it's a lot to click through, but trust us, it's worth it.) In the gallery, expect to scroll past photographs, drawings, aerial shots, etchings, renderings, close-ups, blueprints, postcards, and watercolors. For it seems that after Woolworth's doors opened in 1913, everyone wanted to capture its distinctive green tower, its ornamented neo-Gothic terracotta facade, and, most of all, the way it simply towered over every other structure on the skyline until 40 Wall Street, that saucy minx, went up in 1930 and wrenched away The Big W's superlative title as the tallest building in the world.
Five-and-dime store tycoon Frank Woolworth very much wanted to make a statement about both his massive fortune and ideals like the American Dream (and, sure, American supremacy) via this groundbreaking building, enlisting architect Cass Gilbert with the explicit intention to build the tallest skyscraper in the world. By the numbers: the 57-story, 792-foot goliath took three years to build and cost $13.5 million (in 1913 dollars, which Woolworth paid in cash). There were banks; there were offices with views and businessmen and stenographers. There was, of course, a swanky restaurant for the power lunches of yore. Don't forget about the murals, gargoyles and gold leaf. And the pool!
With residential condos headed for the top of the building next year that are bound to top the charts in asking price, to this day the building deserves its moniker as a Cathedral of Commerce. Sure, there are other buildings turning 100 this year, like that train station on 42nd Street. But today is all about the W. (For more, the Skyscraper Museum has an exhibition, "Woolworth @ 100," on view till July 14, with another show about the year 1913 at the New-York Historical Society set for this fall.)
Since we recently got a rare peek at the ground-floor interior as it stands now?still a stunner?it only makes sense to look back, way back, on this landmark anniversary. That is, until its next chapter begins.
· Woolworth Building coverage [Curbed]