40 Wall Street

40 Wall Street
40 Wall Street

40 Wall Street (in 2005)
Record height
Tallest in the world from April 1930 to 27 May 1930[I]
Preceded by Woolworth Building
Surpassed by Chrysler Building
General information
Location New York, New York USA
Coordinates 40°42′25″N 74°00′35″W / 40.706964°N 74.009672°W / 40.706964; -74.009672Coordinates: 40°42′25″N 74°00′35″W / 40.706964°N 74.009672°W / 40.706964; -74.009672
Construction started 1929
Completed April 1930
Antenna spire 927 ft (283 m)
Technical details
Floor count 70
Manhattan Company Building
Location: 40 Wall Street, Manhattan, New York City, New York
Area: less than one acre
Built: 1929–1930
Architect: H. Craig Severance, Yasuo Matsui, et al.
Architectural style: Skyscraper
Governing body: Private
NRHP Reference#: 00000577[1]
Added to NRHP: 16 June 2000
Old image of 40 Wall Street
Lower portion of 40 Wall Street, today's The Trump Building

40 Wall Street is a 70-story skyscraper in New York City. Originally known as the Bank of Manhattan Trust building,[3] and also known as Manhattan Company Building,[1] it was later known by its street address when its founding tenant merged to form the Chase Manhattan Bank and today is known as the Trump Building.[4] The building, between Nassau Street and William Street in Manhattan, New York City, was completed in 1930 after only 11 months of construction.




The building was designed by H. Craig Severance, along with Yasuo Matsui (associate architect), and Shreve & Lamb (consulting architects). Edward F. Caldwell & Co. designed the lighting. Der Scutt of Der Scutt Architect designed the lobby and entrance renovation.[4] Its pinnacle reaches 927 feet (282.5 m) and was very briefly the tallest building in the world, soon surpassed by the Chrysler Building finished that same year.

Race to be the world's tallest building

Construction of the Bank of Manhattan Building at 40 Wall Street began in 1928, with a planned height of 840 feet (260 m), making it 135 feet (41 m) taller than the nearby Woolworth Building, completed in 1913. More importantly, the plans were designed to be two feet taller than the Chrysler Building, which was in an ostensible competition to be the world’s tallest building. In order to stay ahead of the race, the architects of 40 Wall Street changed their originally announced height of 840 feet (260 m), or 68 stories, to 927 feet (283 m), or 71 stories, making their building, upon completion in May 1930, the tallest in the world. However, this triumph turned out to be short-lived.

Uptown at 405 Lexington Avenue, the Chrysler Building developers were in the works to top 40 Wall Street. By October 1929, tycoon Walter Chrysler used his secret weapon to win the race to the top; a 125-foot (38 m) stainless steel spire was clandestinely assembled in the Chrysler Building's crown and hoisted into place, bringing it to a height of 77 stories, or 1,048 feet (319 m). Once completed on May 28, 1930, the Chrysler Building surpassed 40 Wall Street as the tallest building on the earth, fulfilling tycoon Walter Chrysler's dream.[5]

Upset by Chrysler’s victory, Shreve & Lamb, consulting architects of 40 Wall Street, wrote a newspaper article claiming that their building was actually the tallest, since it contained the world's highest usable floor. They pointed out that the observation deck in the Bank of Manhattan Building was nearly 100 feet (30 m) above the top floor in the Chrysler Building, whose surpassing spire was strictly ornamental and essentially inaccessible.[6] These quibbles were put to rest when the Empire State Building was completed eleven months later in 1931, becoming the world’s tallest building at 1,250 feet (380 m) in both of those categories.

Plane crash

On the evening of May 20, 1946, a United States Army Air Forces C-45 Beechcraft airplane crashed into the north side of the building. The twin-engined plane was heading for Newark Airport on a flight originating at Lake Charles Army Air Field in Louisiana. It struck the 58th floor of the building at about 8:10 PM, creating a 20 by 10-foot (3.0 m) hole in the masonry, and killing all five aboard the plane, including a WAC officer. Fog and low visibility were identified as the main causes of the crash. At the time of the accident, LaGuardia Field reported a heavy fog that reduced the ceiling to 500 feet (150 m), obscuring the view of the ground for the pilot at the building's 58th story level. Parts of the aircraft and pieces of brick and mortar from the building fell into the street below, but there were no reported injuries of any of the estimated 2,000 workers in the building, nor anyone on the street.[7]

This crash at 40 Wall Street was only the second of its kind in New York City's history, the first being when an Army B-25 bomber struck the 78th floor of the Empire State Building in July of the year before. The cause of that crash was also fog and poor visibility.[7]

The 1946 incident was the last time an airplane accidentally struck a skyscraper in New York City until October 11, 2006, when a small plane carrying New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle slammed into a 50-story condo building on Manhattan's Upper East Side.[8][9]

Decline and revival

In 1982, Joseph J. and Ralph E. Bernstein purchased 40 Wall Street and were later found to be acting on behalf of Ferdinand E. Marcos, the late President of the Philippines. When Marcos was removed from power and his assets in the United States were frozen, the building was placed in limbo.[10]

In 1995, after years of neglect, 40 Wall Street was bought by Donald Trump and later renamed The Trump Building. He planned to convert the upper half of it to residential space, leaving the bottom half as commercial space. However, the cost of converting it to residential space proved to be too high, and it remains 100% commercial space.[11] He tried to sell the building in 2003, expecting offers in excess of $300 million. Such offers did not materialize, and Trump retains control of the building. In the ninth episode of the fourth season of The Apprentice, Trump claimed he only paid $1 million for the building, but that it was actually worth $400 million. This episode aired 17 November 2005. On CNBC's The Billionaire Inside, Trump again claimed he paid $1 million for the building, but stated the value as $600 million, a $200 million increase from two years earlier. The episode aired 17 October 2007 on CNBC. It is also stated that the building was bought for $1 million, in the book Donald Trump - Strategies For Real Estate written by George H. Ross (his legal advisor). In 1996, however, Trump took out a mortgage for $10 million on the property.

In 1998, the building was designated a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. The tower is the tallest mid-block building in New York City.[12]

See also

  • Tallest buildings in New York City
  • List of buildings

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. http://nrhp.focus.nps.gov/natreg/docs/All_Data.html. 
  2. ^ 40 Wall Street at Emporis
  3. ^ 40 Wall Street - The Trump Building
  4. ^ a b White, Norval; Willensky, Elliot. AIA Guide to New York City, 4th Edition; New York Chapter, American Institute of Architects; Crown Publishers/Random House. 2000. ISBN 0-8129-3107-6. p.019.
  5. ^ Tauranac, John. The Empire State Building: The Making of a Landmark, p. 130.
  6. ^ Binders, George. 101 of the World's Tallest Buildings. p. 102. Pub. Date: August 2006.
  7. ^ a b "Pilot Lost in Fog," New York Times, May 21, 1946, p. 1
  8. ^ Levy, Matthys and Salvadori, Mario, Why Buildings Fall Down: How Structures Fail (2002), p. 30: "… no plane has accidentally hit a skyscraper since the Empire State and Wall Street catastrophes." [1]
  9. ^ Yankees' Lidle killed in plane crash, Mark Feinsand, MLB.com, October 11, 2006
  10. ^ Oser, Alan S. "Perspectives: 40 Wall Street; Asian Buyer Accepts a Leasing Challenge", New York Times, 20 June 1993.
  11. ^ George H Ross, Trump Strategies for Real Estate: Billionaire Lessons for the Small Investor (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons Inc, 2005) at 51.
  12. ^ Emporis

External links

Preceded by
Woolworth Building
Tallest building in the world
April 1930 – May 1930
Succeeded by
Chrysler Building
Tallest building in the United States
April 1930 – May 1930

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