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.
April 13, 1852: Frank Woolworth is born in Rodman, NY.
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").
May 7, 1911: Final design (NYT "Woolworth Building will be World's Greatest Skyscraper")
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: Woolworth Building wins Medal of Honor at the Panama Pacific Internatioanl Exposition in San Francisco.
1949: Featured prominently in the Academy Award-winning film 'On The Town'.
1966: Building named a "National Historic Landmark".
1983: Building becomes a "New York City Landmark".
April 24, 2013: The 100 year anniversary celebrated.
Today: Thierry W Despont oversees the transformation and creation of The Woolworth Tower Residences.
of gold foil was used on the top of The Woolworth
of terra cotta
of structural steel
Woolworth to Gilbert
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.
Thierry W Despont
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.
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.