Woolworth Building

The Woolworth Building is unusual among skyscrapers for having been financed in cash. Its owner was five and dime king, Frank W. Woolworth, who in 1910 commissioned architect Cass Gilbert to design a Gothic-style skyscraper to soar above City Hall Park on a full-block site on Broadway between Park Place and Barclay Street.


The height and cost escalated from an estimated 625 feet and $5 million to the final of 792 feet for $13.5 million. The extensive foundations and wind-bracing necessary for a tall and slender tower and the elaborate terra-cotta exterior and sumptuous lobby desired by Woolworth helped to inflate the costs. Until recently, however, the building never had a mortgage-- an unusual circumstance for any large commercial structure. When the Venator Group (formerly the Woolworth Corporation) announced on June 23, 1998 that it would sell the tower to the Witkoff Group for $155 million, the building changed hands for the first time in its 85 year history.

Location: 233 Broadway, New York