Fronting prominently on City Hall Park, the headquarters of the Woolworth Corporation was built as a monument to the success of Frank Woolworth, the founder of a commercial empire built on five-and-dime stores. Built at a cost of 13 million dollars, this 60 story steel-framed-skyscraper was the tallest building in New York until the Chrysler building was finished in 1931. Completed prior to the 1916 Zoning Regulation, the Woolworth building occupies the full surface of its city lot, and its tower is not set back from the street line.

To enhance comfort and marketability, the high rise was endowed with generous floor heights, as well as efficient state-of-the-art building systems and tenant amenities. Clad in ivory terracotta panels modelled and decorated in the late 15th century Flamboyant Gothic manner (Woolworth's favored style), this building is the embodiment of a "Cathedral of Commerce" (as it was called by Reverand S. Parkes Cadman). Even today, Woolworth's building still stands as a testiment to free enterprise and to the realization of Frank Woolworth's ambitious "American Dream."

Decorative elements at the base and in the lobby echo Gothic ornament, while functioning symbolically to reassert the commercial nature and financial success of the building's owner.



Woolworth Building
233 Broadway, Cass Gilbert (1913)