New York in New York County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Graham, Anderson, Probst and White Architects, 1912-15
—Exploring Lower Manhattan —
Vast, looming and dark by comparison to all previous skyscrapers, on completion the Equitable Building could claim the title of, if not the tallest, then certainly the largest office building in the world.
Successful life insurance companies like Equitable, with large amounts of capital at their disposal, emerged as among the first and most important builders of skyscrapers. The first Equitable headquarters, also built on this site (1868-70), has been reckoned the first American skyscraper.
Its successor, in its day both the largest office building and the heaviest structure on earth, could accommodate over 12,000 people, far more than could fit in the surrounding streets. Builder Louis Horowitz wrote that, on completion, its 1,200,000 square feet of space “seemed almost like a new continent, so vast and vacant were its many floors.”
Erected by The Alliance for Downtown New York, Inc.
Location. 40° 42.486′ N, 74° 0.588′ W. Marker is in New York, New York, in New York County. Marker is at the intersection of Nassau Street and Cedar Street, on the right when traveling north on Nassau Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: New York NY 10005, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other Federal Reserve Bank of New York (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Federal Reserve Bank of New York (within shouting distance of this marker); Chamber of Commerce / Liberty Tower (within shouting distance of this marker); 33 Liberty Street (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Ohio Company of Associates (about 400 feet away); Veteran Corps of Artillery (about 400 feet away); On this site in Federal Hall (about 400 feet away); 1 Wall Street / 14 Wall Street (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in New York.
More about this marker. A contemporary photograph of the Equitable building appears at the upper left of the marker. Another picture of the building at the lower right has a caption of “Besides concerns about the loss of light and air, the size of the Equitable prompted worries about how its thousands of occupants could possibly escape a fire. Even as Mayor John Purroy Mitchel officiated at the cornerstone laying in 1914, he hinted that the Equitable might be the last of the city’s mammoth skyscrapers.
It wasn’t, but the furor over the Equitable’s immense size helped ensure the adoption of New York’s 1916 zoning resolution, the first in the nation, regulating the shape of new buildings in order to guarantee
This rendering by architectural illustrator Hugh Ferriss, in response to the new codes, suggested the regulated shape of skyscrapers to come.”
A picture of an insurance policy is at the lower left of the marker with the caption “For over 140 years, the Equitable has counted among its millions of insured American presidents Garfield, Harrison, McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Hard-hearted businessmen like Walter Chrysler, Pierre DuPont and Cecil B. DeMille entrusted their lives to the Equitable, and so did such artists and entertainers as John Philip Sousa, Buffalo Bill Cody, Rudyard Kipling, George M. Cohan, Will Rogers, George Gershwin, Fanny Brice, Clark Gable, Gary Cooper and Babe Ruth – not to mention George Armstrong Custer, who must have enjoyed the peace of mind of the adequately insured at his fateful Last Stand.”
Below this is a picture of “The Goddess of Protection, J.Q.A. Ward’s statue of Life insurance as the protector of widows and orphans, [which] presided over the Broadway entrance of the first Equitable Building.”
Categories. • Notable Buildings •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 16, 2011, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 375 times since then and 14 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on September 16, 2011, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.