The Woolworth Building always had ambition.
Since its construction was over in 1913, the 60-story 792-feet high building above Broadway between Park Place and Barclay Street became the tallest building in the world and the second tallest structure in the world after Paris’s Eiffel Tower. For 17 years, it remained in its record-breaking status,— that is until 40 Wall Street, the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building were built.
Since then, the work of Cass Gilbert had to brace its ambition. But it remained one of the most beautiful buildings in New York City, as well as a National Historic Landmark starting in 1966. The Woolworth Building met the end of the 20th century as a comparatively affordable office high-rise with worn-out interiors and a facade in need of restoration. Its future was dim, and there were rumors about a sale to new investors.
In August 2012, an investment group led by a New York developer Alchemy Properties, bought the top 30 floors of the Woolworth from its owners the Witkoff Group and Cammeby’s International for $68 million. They planned to rebuild the top floors into condos, while leaving the lower 28 floors to serve as office space.
New challenges were ahead for the structure. After meticulous negotiation with the Landmark Preservation Commission and a change of an interior design scheme, the developer introduced a new model unit at the beginning of 2017. In September 2017 the most expensive real estate lot in NYC’s Downtown was put on the market—the $110 mansion in the sky.
We combed through our archive and found photographs dating from April 2015, when one of our staff went on a tour of the building with works still ongoing. It still looked rough, but distinctively Woolworthian.
Here are the photos.