Tours of the Woolworth Building's exquisite, typically closed-off lobby have proven so popular that they are being extended. Organized by architect Cass Gilbert's great-grandaughter, they were originally launched as a way to complement an exhibition about the iconic tower (and erstwhile tallest building in NYC) at the Skyscraper Museum, which honored its milestone 100th birthday. The lobby, full of carvings, golden embellishments, and other impressive features, has been off-limits to the public since WWII, according to the Journal, but it's only since 9/11 that landlord Witkoff Group has really started to enforce the ban.
Small groups can sign up on the official website for visits that range from a simple 15-minute self-directed stint in the lobby to a 90-minute "deluxe" option led by Anthony Robins, a historian who wrote the designation report when the Gothic beauty became a landmark in 1983. Prices run from $10-$40.
Robins, it turns out, was one of the many Woolworth aficionados who were dismayed when public access to the lobby was cut off, telling the WSJ, "It's one of the great commercial interior spaces in New York, one could argue in the country." Witkoff feels somewhat differently about opening up their commercial building to the masses, with VP Roy Suskin saying, "Tenants have to get in and out and you can't walk around people standing in the doors staring at the ceiling?as lovely as it is." Moral of the story? Go while you can. Especially before those top-floor condos roll out.
· The Woolworth Lobby [official site]
· Woolworth Building Gives Peeks at Its Historic Lobby [WSJ]
· 100 Historic Photos of the Century-Old Woolworth Building [Curbed]
· A Rare Glimpse Inside as the Woolworth Building Turns 100 [Curbed]
· 13 New York City Buildings That Turn 100 in 2013 [Curbed]
· All Woolworth Building coverage [Curbed]