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Inside the Building That Changed New York City's Zoning Laws

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So many skyscrapers, in New York City and beyond, owe a major part of their design to one building in Lower Manhattan. That building is the Equitable Building at 120 Broadway. Completed in 1915 and designed by Ernest Graham, its 40 floors cover the entire block and cast a shadow one-fifth of a mile long and seven acres in size. To say that didn't go over well is an understatement. It's why New York has zoning laws, and why towers such as the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building were required to have the setbacks that make them so dramatic.

The Equitable Life Insurance Company is now the AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company and no longer based downtown, or even in the AXA Equitable Center on 7th Avenue, but the Equitable Building still stands, with grand architecture, an ornate lobby, and unique views of the area. As part of their Room at the Top series (which previously visited Art Deco One Wall Street), Landmark Branding and nAscent Art recently led a tour of the building, ending at the 37th floor offices of Strategies for Wealth. Their windows provide a unique perspective of the skybridge at the Trinity Buildings (one of a dwindling number of skybridges in the city), an up close and personal perspective of the pyramid atop 14 Wall Street, and a great look at the less frequently photographed side of Cass Gilbert's 90 West Street.


—Evan Bindelglass is a local freelance journalist, photographer, cinephile, and foodie. You can e-mail him, follow him on Twitter @evabin, or check out his personal blog.
· The Equitable Building and the Birth of NYC Zoning Law [Curbed]
· All Equitable Building coverage [Curbed]