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Cass Gilbert

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AD Classics: Woolworth Building / Cass Gilbert

01:00 - 17 February, 2014
AD Classics: Woolworth Building / Cass Gilbert, View of Woolworth Building and surrounding buildings (ca. 1913), via <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/'>Wikimedia</a> Commons
View of Woolworth Building and surrounding buildings (ca. 1913), via Wikimedia Commons

The Woolworth Building, an innovative and elegant early skyscraper completed in 1913, endures today as an iconic form on the New York City skyline. A historicist exterior sheaths a modern steel tower, embodying both the era’s modern spirit of progress and its hesitation to fully break from the past. Cass Gilbert, selected as the architect, believed the designer should “weave into the pattern of our own civilization the beauty that is our inheritance.”[1] An ornate monument to the growing economic dominance of New York City, the building was dubbed the “Cathedral of Commerce.”

Blue and yellow accents. Image © Aaron Sylvan Stairs in the rear of the lobby. Image © Aaron Sylvan Woolworth Building under construction, circa 1912. Image Courtesy of Flickr Commons Project Typical upper level plan. Image © Penn State Libraries Pictures Collection + 35