1912's Greatest Building - No More


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Dave Hudson

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Apr 25, 2001
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I heard that the Woolworth Building, the tallest building on earth in 1912, is likely going to collapse. Apparently, falling debris from the World Trade Center compromised its structural integrity.
For those who don't know, the Woolworth Building was the tower that was shown in the famous postcard depicting the Olympic/Titanic on end comparing them to various famous structures of the day.

David
 

Mark Baber

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David---

Where did you hear this? I've had the radio on all of my waking hours since Tuesday morning, listening to a NYC all-news station, and there's been no reference at all to the Woolworth Building or, for that matter, any danger to any building others than those immediately adjacent to WTC. The Woolworth Building is so prominent that I'm sure that any danger to it would have been reported by now.

If that changes, of course, I'll advise.

MAB
 

Ben Holme

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Feb 11, 2001
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Hi David,

Latest I've heard is that the American Express building is the most precarious one at the moment, but I gather others are unstable.

Ben
 

Mark Baber

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>That would be the Empire State Building, which is now the tallest building in NYC.

It is now, but it hadn't been built in 1912. Woolworth, which IS the building shown on the Olympic card (https://greatships.net/scans/PC-OL08.jpg) was either under construction or just opened around 1912.

Empire State wasn't completed until 1931 (Empire State Building Facts) and was the tallest building in the city from then until WTC was finished. It is now once again the tallest building in the city.

MAB
 

Dave Hudson

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Apr 25, 2001
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I heard on Tuesday that its stability was uncertain, as well as a few rumored reports from different sourses that it might fall. I just wanted to know what you all had heard.

David
 
Dec 31, 2000
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I'm sorry Mark,

I thought that the ESB was around in 1912 as I had seen many comparisons to it with Titanic.
I apologize.

Beverly
 
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Karen Sweigart

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A friend of mine had the New York daily news and it did show a pic of 9 buildings around the WTC that could possibly be in danger. I don't have the pic anymore though, to tell anyone what they were, but some were more than a block away.
 
Apr 7, 2001
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Karen,

Well, did they evacuate the other nine buildings including the Woolworth building? I haven't heard any news mentioned of it but I could have very well missed it on the news. God knows I can't keep the news on 24/7 as I'd like to.

Teri
 
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Stacie Crowther

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I am filled with rage!!!!!!!!! I await the vengeance that will come the terrorists way with great anticipation. So far the death toll is approximately 4-5 Titanic ships. Bastards!!!!!!
 
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Bob Cruise

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The Woolworth Building is at 233 Broadway, roughly 10 blocks north of where the WTC used to be. It has 60 stories and stands 792' high. I have heard that its structure has been compromised by what happened, but I have not yet read anything to credit these claims.

The Woolworth Building is perhaps the grandest example of Gilded Age architecture, built 1910-1913 by F.W. Woolworth himself (and funded by him as well) and dubbed, arrogantly enough, as the "Cathedral of Commerce".

The Woolworth building stood for almost twenty years as the tallest building in Manhattan, until the Chrysler Building was completed in 1930 in mid-town. Subsequently, the Chrysler building was able to hold on to that title but for barely a year with the completion of the Empire State Building in 1931 (also in mid-town).

Before the Woolworth building, the Singer Tower (built 1906-08) was the tallest building in Manhattan. It stood near the future site of the Woolworth Building, and was the skyscraper which dominated the skyline when the Titanic survivors arrived on 4/18/12. In the mid-1950's, this building was demolished.

Before the Singer Tower, there had been many, many Gilded Age buildings which claimed to the be tallest, all of them built in the flurry of construction which resulted from the innovation of the steel girder (it allowed buildings to rise from the former limit of 10 stories imposed on the old cast-iron structures; support, the architects found, was distributed more evenly and centrally with girders). Two notable examples of this period are the Bankers Trust Building at 14 Wall Street, built by JP Morgan (the top floors were his own penthouse) and the Metropolitan Life Tower at 23rd and Park Avenue South (this building replaced the original Madison Square Garden, and is the other NY skyscraper which was compared to the Titanic; when stood on its stern, the ship's lenghth exceeded the height of the building by the fore poop deck). The Bankers Trust Building, according to the New York Times, also has sustained significant structural damage.

As for the earliest of these buildings, that title would have to go to the World Building (also in the area near the Woolworth Building), completed in 1890, since this structure was the first to rise above the spire of Trinity Church (located at the west end of Wall Street). The World Building, too, has since disappeared.

Prior to the World Building, Trinity Church, (the current church was built in 1846) dominated the Manhattan skyline for almost half a century. It is only a few blocks from the site of the WTC. As far as I know, it has sustained no structural damage.

Draw your own conclusions.
 
Apr 7, 2001
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Mark & Bob,

What about the Titanic Memorial Seaman Building? Where is this building located, is it near the WTC disaster and has it been comprised at all?

Mark that was a great link of both the disaster and the Woolworth building as it stands today. What a beautiful piece of artwork Mr. Woolworth erected.

Bob thanks for all the info on the Woolworth building and other buildings. Quite phenomenal that the Trinity Church should sustain structural integrity throughout the massive destruction surrounding it.

Sincerely,

Teri
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
Good news about the Trinity Church there. I was wondering about the place. I suspect two factors saved it, not the least was that the WTC literally caved in on itself, which is to say, it imploded. This way at least, the damage was confined to a reletively small area. There is also the fact that the church isn't even close to being as massive, so it's own weight won't be working against it on the ground on which it was built. The problem with the other buildings close by...the really big ones...is that they appear to have been built on landfill which has allegedly been destablized by the WTC collapse.

Don't take the above as gospel though. I'm not a civil engineer, so all I have to go by is what I hear from a not always reliable newsmedia. I hope if there is a civil engineer among the members here, that they'll take the time to spell it out to us.

Let's hope that the people working around there can get things fixed up. The nightmare is bad enough as it is. Another building coming down, they don't need.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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Bob- You mentioned the former Singer Tower. It was demolished in 1968 and was replaced by the United States Steel Building (which the American Institute of Architects described as "Hulking and cadaverous") which in turn became #1 Liberty Plaza- the building which was, and is, the most strongly rumored to be on the verge of collapse standing as it does across Church Street from the WTC. Also across Church Street from WTC is St Paul's Church which is (or perhaps was) the only extant pre- Revolutionary War building in Lower Manhattan. I saw a very poor quality photo of it post-attack and it is hard to tell the extent of the damages. The Woolworth Building, at 233 Broadway is one block East of the WTC complex and two blocks North and was not listed as being seriously damaged. Back in the early to mid 1980s the upper reaches were festooned with netting to secure the eroding gargoyles and ornamentation which were beginning to drop off the facade, so there is no telling what kind of cosmetic restoration work may be needed after the initial clean up work is finished. One other building of note which may be gone or badly damaged is St Peter's Church, a distinguished 1838 Greek Revival structure at Church and Barclay. All of this is, of course, trivial compared to the other losses.

Teri- The Titanic Seaman's Memorial Building down at Battery Park was demolished decades ago, but the lighthouse from atop it was saved and re-erected at the Seaport.

TITANIC LINK- Also in the WTC neighborhood, in fact diagonally across the street from it, stood the original Astor House (hotel) erected by the first John Jacob Astor in the 1830s as NYC's leading and largest hotel. It was demolished by halves, in 1913 and 1926, with the northern end going first and being replaced by the architecturally indistinguished skyscraper one can see across the street from the Woolworth Building, and the south end being replaced by a six story Greeek Revival structure which looks so much like the half of the hotel which it replaced that one wonders why they bothered demolishing the original.
 

Inger Sheil

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Feb 9, 1999
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The Titanic Seaman's Memorial Building down at Battery Park was demolished decades ago, but the lighthouse from atop it was saved and re-erected at the Seaport.

Visiting this last year was one of the notable experiences of the NY gathering. Some time before, when reading through the personal papers of a young crewman lost in the sinking, I came across correspondence from the Seaman's Institute with the man's family that post-dated the disaster. Among what they had sent him was a programme and article dating from the memorial's consecration ceremony. The family in the UK could not attend, but it must have meant a good deal to them, for them to have placed the material connected with the memorial with the lost man's personal papers. And there those documents from 1913 remain, getting on for the better part of a century later.

~ Inger
 

Mark Baber

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>Also across Church Street from WTC is St Paul's Church which is (or perhaps was) the only extant pre- Revolutionary War building in Lower Manhattan. I saw a very poor quality photo of it post-attack and it is hard to tell the extent of the damages.

St. Paul's Chapel is fine, except for debris in the courtyard.


>One other building of note which may be gone or badly damaged is St Peter's Church,

I haven't heard or read anything one way or the other about St. Peter's. St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church on Liberty Street, though, was destroyed, according to an article in Monday's Wall Street Journal.

MAB
 
Apr 7, 2001
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Dear James Kalafus,

Thank you very much for the info on the Titanic Memorial Seaman's Building. I was very saddened to learn of her demolition.

Teri
 
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