On this evening in 1913, President Woodrow Wilson flipped an electrical switch in Washington, DC, thus lighting-up the Woolworth Building in New York City. The world’s tallest skyscraper—dubbed “The Cathedral of Commerce—was officially opened!
Begun in 1910, the building was originally conceived as a 20-story office building to headquarter the F. W. Woolworth Corporation. Three years and $13.5 million later, the building had soared to 792 feet—57 floors serviced by the new, state-of-the-art invention, the high-speed elevator. Architect Cass Gilbert designed the building in the Gothic Revival style, so well-suited to beautiful, soaring architecture. A verdigris copper roof caps the building—over-sized so as to be seen from ground-level, 700 feet below. And, speaking of ground-level, the ornate cross-shaped lobby was considered the most spectacular of the early Twentieth Century.
Funnily, once the building was opened, the Woolworth Corporation only used one-and-a-half floors of its space. The rest was rented-out, making the investment very profitable for Mr. Woolworth. One of the notable tenants was Columbia Records who maintained a recording studio on the premises.
The Woolworth Building remained the tallest building in the world until 1930 when The Chrysler Building exceeded it. Now, more than 100 years after being completed, The Woolworth Building is still one of the fifty tallest buildings in the U.S. It is amongst the 20 tallest buildings in New York City. It received National Historic Landmark status in 1966.