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The Woolworth Building

233 Broadway, New York, NY 10279 40.712301 -74.007902
nr. Barclay St.  See Map | Subway Directions Hopstop Popup
212-397-8200 Send to Phone

Photo by Angus Oborn/Lonely Planet Images

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A, C at Chambers St.; 1, 2, 3 at Chambers St.

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When retail store tycoon Frank W. Woolworth's temple to capitalism—which was paid for entirely in cash—was completed in 1913, the neo-Gothic gem was the tallest and most modern building in the world. Although numerous skyscrapers have risen since then, few are as ornate or opulent as The Woolworth Building. The 792-foot building's steel frame is entirely clad in cream-colored terracotta, and flying buttresses, gargoyles and spires cover the facade. There's nothing subtle about it. Even the building's opening night was larger than life: Then-President Woodrow Wilson pressed a button in the White House that illuminated the building's 80,000 light bulbs. Unfortunately, the exterior and the entryway to the lavishly adorned lobby are the only parts of the landmark visitors can see, as the building is not open to the general public. The lobby has a vaulted mosaic ceiling that precedes a stained-glass ceiling in the rear Yellow marble lines the walls and playful, intricately carved figures of architect Cass Gilbert as well as Woolworth counting his nickels and dimes hang near the elevators.

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