By Carter B. Horsley
The very tall Gothic Revival,
of Trinity Church at Broadway and Wall Street is one of New York's
greatest landmarks for its architecture, its history and its
associations with the international images of Wall Street as the
financial center of the world.
Its isolated splendor at the
foot of Wall Street
is greatly enhanced by its very large, surrounding cemetery that
gives it extraordinary "light and air." Although the
former Irving Trust Building at One Wall Street surpassed the
church in height, it did not overwhelm it and the church's open
space is one of the most impressive in New York especially because
the north and south sides have spectacular Gothic Revival-style,
limestone office buildings with wonderful detailing that significantly
augment the elegance of this major urban place.
This is the exceedingly
on the south side of the cemetery and its main facade, between
Broadway and Rector Street, faces north towards the church and
other major New York City landmarks such as the former Equitable
Building and the former Marine Midland Bank buildings at 120 and
140 Broadway, respectively, in the background. It also used to
have fine views of the tops of the World Trade Center, which was
demolished in terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, but it
will have vistas of the new towers planned for "Ground Zero."
This building was converted
from an office
building to a rental apartment building in 1998 and no other apartment
building in New York City has comparably dramatic views with the
possible exception of Olympic Tower just to the north of St. Patrick's
Roman Catholic Cathedral on Fifth Avenue at 51st Street.
Waterfront locations have their
allure as do
those that front on parks, but both often do not offer central,
convenient locations and their views may be beautiful but not
dramatic. This building almost makes the facades of the best Fifth
Avenue apartment buildings pale in comparison architecturally.
This is the best of the
converted office buildings in Lower Manhattan that began to flourish
in the mid- and late 1990's. The first generation, dating back
to the 1980's, included 33 Liberty Street, a very fine skyscraper
a few blocks away that is a slightly more impressive building
but hemmed in by other major buildings.
While the first generation of
suffered from a lack of residential neighborhood services, the
newer crop has led the way to a significant increase of such amenities
in the area. New restaurants and stores have opened and the vast
and very impressive residential development at Battery Park City
along the Hudson River just to the west has buttressed the
of the downtown business district to a mixed-use enclave of
diversity that has been also aided by the attractions of the South
Street Seaport along the East River and the creation in the late
1990's of several museums at the foot of Broadway to the south.
It would be misleading, of
course, to proclaim
this as the city's most exciting residential neighborhood as it
still needs an infusion of more restaurants, markets and stores,
and the completion of many major construction projects, but from
an architectural viewpoint it is without peer.
This 23-story building was
erected in 1897
and was designed by Francis Kimball of Kimball & Thompson.
From 1901 to 1976, it was the headquarters of U. S. Steel.
In their great book, "The
to New York City, Fourth Edition," Norval White and Elliot
Willensky observed that the building's "entrance is a triumphant
Roman ensemble," adding that "financier Russell Sage
was almost assassinated in 1891 in an older Empire Building that
occupied this spot before replacement by this Empire Building.
He quickly threw his male secretary at the bomber, muffling the
intended damage to himself but almost killing his secretary. Sage
withstood his assistant's law suit and died very rich. His widow
later established the Russell Sage philanthropies, among them
Forest Hills Gardens."
The limestone-clad building has
with high ceilings and desirable northern exposures. The building
offers a free health club and has a doorman, storage space, a
sundeck, a bicycle room, video security, a recreation room and
a laundry on the 21st floor. It is a hop, skip and jump from the
Wall Street subway station on Broadway.
The entrance is flanked by two
pairs of polished
granite columns that are surmounted by a portico topped by eagles
sitting on globes. The entrance unfortunately is up a broad small
flight of stairs that leads to a very large lobby behind less
than inspired entrance doors.
Although it is dwarfed by the
more famous Art
Deco skyscrapers of Lower Manhattan that came in the generation
after its construction, this building was and is a very significant
contributor to the fabulous ambiance of downtown that inspired
and awed the world.