Woolworth Building, New York City

#128 of 1,642 in Things to do in New York City
Architectural Building · Tourist Spot
The Woolworth Building is an early American skyscraper designed by architect Cass Gilbert and located at 233 Broadway in Manhattan, New York City. It was the tallest building in the world from 1913 to 1930, with a height of 792 feet (241 m). More than a century after its construction, it remains one of the 100 tallest buildings in the United States.

The Woolworth Building is located in Manhattan's Tribeca neighborhood, bounded by Broadway and City Hall Park to its east, Park Place to its north, and Barclay Street to its south. It consists of a 30-story tower atop a 30-story base. Its facade is mostly decorated with terracotta, though the lower portions are limestone, and it features thousands of windows. The ornate lobby contains various sculptures, mosaics, and architectural touches. The structure was also designed with several amenities and attractions, including a now-closed observatory on the 57th floor and a private swimming pool in the basement.

The skyscraper was originally conceived by F. W. Woolworth, the founder of a brand of popular five-and-ten-cent stores, as a headquarters for his company. Woolworth planned the skyscraper jointly with the Irving National Exchange Bank, which also agreed to use the structure as its headquarters. The Woolworth Building had originally been planned as a 12- to 16-story commercial building, but underwent several revisions during its planning process. Its final height was not decided upon until January 1911. Construction started in 1910 and was completed two years later. The building officially opened on April 24, 1913.

The Woolworth Building underwent several changes throughout its history. The facade was cleaned in 1932, and the building received an extensive renovation between 1977 and 1981. The Irving National Exchange Bank moved its headquarters to 1 Wall Street in 1931, but the Woolworth Company (later Venator Group) continued to own the Woolworth Building for most of the 20th century. The structure was sold to the Witkoff Group in 1998. The top 30 floors were sold to a developer in 2012 and converted into residences. The remainder of the building remains in use by office and commercial tenants. The Woolworth Building has been a National Historic Landmark since 1966, and a New York City designated landmark since 1983.
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1,054 reviews
  • On our way from Midtown to the financial district, we stopped to admire Woolworth Building, which is truly majestic and gigantic with its turrets and lovely details everywhere you look. We did not...  more »
  • The Woolworth Building Lobby Tour was excellent and our guide, Ray, was outstanding. He put the building in context—architecturally, socially, geographically, and chronologically—all shaped into a...  more »
  • Sadly rough around the edges, this once glorious structure isn't cared for as well as she should be. But the tour is interesting and worth a visit, if just to gain access to all areas of the elegant lobby. The extended tour takes you deeper into what is shockingly a shambles of disarray below.
  • The Woolworth Building is a fascinating place. My tour guide Ray Victor was friendly and knowledgeable and answered all my questions. The half hour tour was excellent though I wish I had time to take the longer tour. Be prepared to stand as there were no opportunities to sit.

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