"An artistic creation of the highest order."
The American Institute of Architects
Frank W. Woolworth
Innovator.
Visionary.
Leader.

An indomitable team that would change the skyline of New York City, Frank Winfield Woolworth was a retail pioneer; by 1910, just thirty-one years after his first five and dime store opened, he was a mogul, looking to build a trophy headquarters building at one of the most prominent corners in downtown New York.

Cass Gilbert was a master craftsman who was always up for a challenge. Trained at M.I.T. in the principles of the Parisian École des Beaux-Arts, he was an early proponent of the American Skyscraper. F.W. Woolworth’s commission gave Gilbert the opportunity to develop his principles and ideals on a monumental scale.

Timeline

1852

April 13, 1852: Frank Woolworth is born in Rodman, NY.

1910

April 15th: Land secured and Cass Gilbert hired to design F.W. Woolworth Corporate Headquarters.

November 13th: Date of first published design (New York Times real estate sections front page read "New Woolworth Building on Broadway Will Eclipse Singer Tower in Height").

1911

May 7, 1911: Final design (NYT "Woolworth Building will be World's Greatest Skyscraper")

1913

April 24, 1913: Official Opening, President Woodrow Wilson turns on the buildings's lights with the push of a button in Washington, D.C.

April 27, 1913: The New York Times creates the moniker, "Cathedral of Commerce" given its resemblance to European Gothic church design.

1915

1915: Woolworth Building wins Medal of Honor at the Panama Pacific Internatioanl Exposition in San Francisco.

1949

1949: Featured prominently in the Academy Award-winning film 'On The Town'.

1966

1966: Building named a "National Historic Landmark".

1983

1983: Building becomes a "New York City Landmark".

2013

April 24, 2013: The 100 year anniversary celebrated.

2014-2016

2014-2016: Thierry W Despont oversees the transformation and creation of The Woolworth Tower Residences.

Master Builders
From the draftsmanship of Cass Gilbert, and his hundreds upon hundreds of detailed drawings, to the craftsmanship of the people who hand-set the terra cotta elements in the hazardous heights, The Woolworth Building was an engineering triumph.
40,000
sqft

of gold foil was used on the top of The Woolworth

7,500
tons

of terra cotta

23,000
tons

of structural steel

"How high can you make the tower?"

Woolworth to Gilbert

April 1910
What started as grand became monumental.
July 1910
The daring construction was chronicled and celebrated throughout the world.
November 1912
Originally designed to be four hundred and twenty feet, the building was eventually elevated to seven hundred and ninety two feet (two hundred and forty one meters).
Sculpture in the Sky

A popular tourist attraction since it's opening in 1913, sightseers flocked to the fifty-seventh floor observation deck. The view was so extraordinary that the United States Navy ordered the observation deck closed as it allowed visitors too clear of a view. It is now a private amenity for the pinnacle penthouse.

"The detail of craftsmanship in the terra cotta ornamentation is extraordinary, it is one of my favorite features of the building."

Thierry W Despont

Office Entrance

The Woolworth Building was the talk of the city upon completion. It was given the nomenclature "The Cathedral of Commerce" since the glazed terra cotta panels and strongly articulated piers resembled the gothic churches prevalent in Europe.

An Elevated Vision
of Beaux-Arts

Cass Gilbert's accomplishment was a synthesis of European and American influences. While the proportions and symmetry are rooted in Beaux-Arts principles, the scale reflects the new ideal of the American skyscraper.

Above the Clouds
"The prototype for the tall, romantic skyscraper that permanently transformed the skyline of New York." - New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission Landmark Designation Report