woolworth building

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Architecture, Features, History

10 of NYC’s most impressive Terra-cotta buildings

By Lucie Levine, Thu, October 4, 2018

Terra-cotta, Latin for “fired earth,” is an ancient building material, made of baked clay, first used throughout early civilizations in Greece, Egypt, China the Indus Valley. In more modern times, architects realized that “fired earth” actually acts as a fire-deterrent. In the age of the skyscraper, terra-cotta became a sought-after fire-proof skin for the steel skeletons of New York’s tallest buildings. In the early part of the 20th century, the City’s most iconic structures were decked out in terracotta.

You’ll find terra-cotta on famous facades from the Flatiron to the Plaza, but the material often flies under the radar of pedestrians and architecture buffs alike because it can mimic other materials, like cast-iron or carved wood. Now, this long-underappreciated material is getting its due. On October 24th, the Historic Districts Council will present its annual Landmarks Lion Award to the terra-cotta firms Boston Valley Terra Cotta and Gladding, McBean, which work to keep terra-cotta alive worldwide, and to the preservation organization Friends of Terra Cotta, which has worked to preserve New York’s architectural terra-cotta since 1981. The ceremony will take place at Grand Central’s Oyster Bar, under the magnificent Guastavino terra-cotta ceiling recently restored by Boston Valley Terra Cotta. Fired up about finding “fired earth” around town? Here are 10 of the most impressive examples of New York terra-cotta!

Learn more about New York’s Terra Cotta Treasures

Events

After its iconic neo-Gothic architecture and copper crown, the Woolworth Building is known by New Yorkers for being off-limits to the public, but Untapped Cities is your source to get inside the landmark. Next week, they’ll be hosting their uber-popular Special Access tour, which takes guests into the spectacular “cathedral-esque” lobby and mezzanine, as well as the cellar level with its abandoned bank vault and subway entrances. You’ll learn about the building’s history, restoration, and incredible interior Art Deco architecture. And for those true history buffs, next month they’ll offer a VIP version of this tour with building architect Cass Gilbert’s great-granddaughter, Helen Post Curry.

SIGN UP FOR THE TOURS HERE!

Cool Listings, Financial District

Rendering of the Pinnacle via Williams New York

When the neo-Gothic Woolworth Building was erected in 1913 as the world’s tallest building, it cost a total of $13.5 million. Now, 104 years and a partial condo conversion later, its massive, seven-story penthouse has hit the market for an exorbitant $110 million. The Wall Street Journal first got wind of the not-yet-public listing, which could be the most expensive sale ever downtown, far surpassing the current $50.9 million record at Chelsea’s Walker Tower. Dubbed the Pinnacle for its location in the 792-foot tower’s iconic green copper crown, the penthouse will encompass 9,710 square feet and boast a private elevator, 24-foot ceilings, a 400-square-foot open observatory, and views in every direction, from the World Trade Center to New Jersey to the East River.

More details ahead

Featured Story

Architecture, Battery Park City, Carter Uncut, Features, Financial District, History, opinion, Urban Design

Skyline Wars: In Lower Manhattan, A New Downtown Is Emerging

By Carter B. Horsley, Mon, April 18, 2016

carters view downtown manhattan

Carter Uncut brings New York City’s latest development news under the critical eye of resident architecture critic Carter B. Horsley. This week Carter brings us his fourth installment of “Skyline Wars,” a series that examines the explosive and unprecedented supertall phenomenon that is transforming the city’s silhouette. In this post Carter looks at the evolution of the Lower Manhattan skyline.

Lower Manhattan at the start of the Great Depression was the world’s most famous and influential skyline when 70 Pine, 20 Exchange Place, 1 and 40 Wall Street, and the Woolworth and Singer buildings inspired the world with their romantic silhouettes in a relatively balanced reach for the sky centered around the tip of Lower Manhattan.

Midtown was not asleep at the switch and countered with the great Empire State, the spectacular Chrysler and 30 Rockefeller Plaza but they were scattered and could not topple the aggregate visual power and lure of Lower Manhattan and its proverbial “view from the 40th floor” as the hallowed precinct of corporate America until the end of World War II.

The convenience and elegance of Midtown, however, became increasingly irresistible to many.

More on the the history of Lower Manhattan and what’s in store

Weekly Highlights

Weekly Highlights: Top Picks from the 6sqft Staff

By Dana Schulz, Sat, October 25, 2014

Ghislaine Vinas Greenwich Street Apartment

Images: Greenwich Street loft via Ghislaine Viñas (L); Woolworth Building detail via Library of Congress (R)

Featured Story

Features, Financial District, History

cass gilbert sculpture, cass gilbert woolworth building, cass gilbert sculptures, woolworth building sculptures, faces of the woolworth building

The 101-year old Woolworth Building has been in the news quite a bit lately, especially since it was first announced that the top 30 floors would be turned into 34 apartments; one of which is a nine-story penthouse is expected to hit the market for a record $110 million. But the Woolworth has long been at the center of New York life with its storied past and lofty 792-foot height.

It cost $13.5 million to erect the tower in 1913, and the building was the world’s tallest when it first debuted. Though a number—50 to be exact—have surpassed it in height, the Woolworth Building has remained one of the world’s most admired for its detailed and compelling ornamentation. Like other prestigious companies of its time, Frank W. Woolworth wanted something unforgettable and the building’s architect, Cass Gilbert, certainly delivered. The tower is filled to the brim with mosaics, stained-glass, golden embellishments and of course tons of those carved faces and figures.

See the faces of the Woolworth building

Financial District, New Developments

Woolworth Tower Residences, Woolworth Building

Rendering of unit 31A terrace

First came the floorplans for the $110 million penthouse, then the first set of interior renderings, and now we have a new sneak peak inside the highly anticipated Woolworth Tower Residences.

The Post has profiled unit 31A, a four-bedroom, full-floor unit on the market for $26.4 million. And along with a written description–“a kitchen with all the modern conveniences, a massive formal dining room, hidden bars, a library and…two terraces to enjoy the view from 31 stories up”– come two new renderings, those of the terrace and the kitchen.

More details ahead

Real Estate Wire

woolworth building condo pool, woolworth building condos

Woolworth interior. Image courtesy of The Woolworth Tower Residences (left); 420 Albee Square (right)

Real Estate Wire

woolworth building condo plans, woolworth building, 2 park place
  • Yesterday we got a sneak peek at the penthouse floor plan of the Woolworth Building. Now floor plans for several other units have emerged. [TRD]
  • New Yorkers are loving Long Island City. Rockrose’s 709-unit, 42-story rental in Court Square is now fully leased. [TRD]
  • Sales at 325 Lexington Avenue will launch this fall. [Curbed]
  • Arlene Farkas’ duplex at the River House will be auctioned off September 3rd. The co-op board blocked Farkas’ $7.8M sale to a French ambassador, leaving her tied up with $6M in debt. She’s begging lenders to give her 60 days to find another buyer. [NYDN]
  • Could this be the site of the Williamsburg Apple Store? [Gothamist]

A Woolworth Building floor plan (left); The rumored Apple Store site (right)

Financial District, New Developments

woolworth pricing 2014

It looks like Alchemy Properties‘ plan to price the penthouse at the Woolworth building for $110 million has been approved by the New York Attorney General’s office, making it one of the most expensive listings to ever hit the downtown market at $11,700 per square foot. According to The Real Deal, who got a first look at the floor plans, the unit will be called the “Pinnacle” and host 9,400 square feet with about 500 square feet of outdoor space.

More plans and pricing this way

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