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Preceding the completion of the Bank of Manhattan skyscraper and the Chrysler Building in 1930, the Woolworth Building was the tallest structure in New York and in the world when it was finished in 1913. It served as the headquarters of ?5 and dime? Woolworth retail chain owned by Frank Winfield Woolworth who was awestruck by the gothic structures in Europe, especially by the House of Parliament in London. The European-educated Cass Gilbert designed the Woolworth Building as a U-shaped structure with gothic embellishment.

Standing at 793.5 feet, it surpassed the Metropolitan Life Insurance Tower upon its completion. It faced several hurdles during its construction phase mainly because of its height. It was the first building that utilized its own steam turbines and also had the fastest elevators during that time.

The Woolworth Building is one of the oldest skyscraper in New York and remains in the list of the fifty tallest buildings in the United States and still ranks as one of the twenty highest structures in New York. The building is founded on a three-storey base. The majority of the tower (52 storeys) is clad in glazed terracotta panels with limestone hue. The building is capped with a three-storey ornate roof done in neo-Gothic fashion. The details of this roof are done in massive scale that it can be seen hundreds of feet down below. The entrance to the building at Broadway is similar to the entrances of European Cathedrals. The overall effect of these neo-Gothic elements earned the Woolworth Building the name ?Cathedral of Commerce.? The Woolworth Building used to have an observation deck which attracted 100,000 visitors per year, but was shut down in 1945.

Reflecting the opulence of its exterior, the Woolworth Building?s interior is one of the most lavish and luxurious in New York. The lobby of the building covered in marble and adorned with stained glass ceiling exudes a wealthy vibe. Sculpted caricatures of Woolworth and Cass Gilbert are situated in the lobby. Woolworth?s private office patterned after Napoleon?s office at the peak of the French Empire is still preserved.

The Woolworth Building was owned by the Woolworth Company for 85 years until it was sold to another company in 1998. The Woolworth Building still stands as one of the most iconic landmark in New York City?s skyline. Before the destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001, the Woolworth Building was often photographed in between Towers 1 and 2.
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