Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Building the Equitable

November, 4, 1869, The Sun, page 3, column 3, A Grand Commercial Edifice,
Jan. 22, 1875, New York Times, The New Equitable Building,
May 1, 1875, New York Times, "The New Addition to the Equitable Building,"
April 6, 1877, New York Times, Life Insurance Affairs,
April 27, 1879, New York Times, Ruining Business Streets,
March 22, 1881, New York Times, Suit Against An Insurance Society,
Oct. 3, 1884, New York Times, Remarkable Building Work,
Oct. 27, 1884, New York Times, Decorations at the Opera,
Nov. 17, 1885, New York Times, Equitable Building Alterations,
Jan. 3, 1887, New York Times, The New Equitable Building,
January 10, 1887, New York Times, "A Great Insurance Building.
May 3, 1887, New York Times, Wall-Street Changes,
May 11, 1887, New York Times, Mr. Mannings Bank Opened,
April 30, 1889, New York Times, Received By His Friends, Congratulations and Festivities at the Equitable Building,
Nov. 22, 1893, New York Times, Down-Town Realty Sold; Purchases of Much More Than a Million of Dollars,
May 5, 1897, Brooklyn Eagle, Display Ad; 23,091 persons entered the Equitable Building on the 28th of April,
July 8, 1899, New York Times, A Granite Quarries Combine?
Dec. 23, 1889, New York Times, A Gold Medal Window,
May 3, 1901, Brooklyn Eagle, Unveiled Yesterday in the Equitable Building on Second Anniversary of His Death,
Jan. 13, 1906, The Weekly Underwriter, page 30,
January 14, 1906, NYT, Equitable Block Complete After Forty Years' Buying,January 10, 1912, New York Tribune, Building for "Strength," Structure Was Intended to Reflect Society's Standing,

Jan.-June 1881, American architect and architecture, Volume 9, page 163, M.C. Merry

May 2, 1915, New York Times, Edward D. Lindsey Dead,

Pioneer Architect Once Held Chair of Applied Art at Princeton
"His work on the renovation and redecoration of the Equitable Life Insurance Building in Manhattan attracted the attention of some of the officers of the insurance company, who were also trustees of Princeton University."

Lindsey, Edward Delano,
An architect, died at his home in Flushing, Long Island, April 30, 1915. He was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, March 30, 1841 and was graduated from Harvard in 1862. Later he entered the School of Fine Arts in Paris, where he remained until 1865, when he returned to Boston. Two years later he began his career as an architect in New York and in 1868 designed the French Theater and the Drexel Building, among the first fireproof buildings in New York. His work on the renovation and redecoration of the Equitable Life Insurance Building in Manhattan attracted the attention of some of the officers of the insurance company, who were also trustees of Princeton University. The following autumn he was appointed to the newly created Chair of Applied Art at Princeton. He resigned the professorship in 1880 and returned to the practice of architecture in New York. He designed large mercantile buildings, including the Consolidated Exchange and the American Lithograph Building. XII - 1915. Society of Architectural Historians

*November, 4, 1869, The Sun, page 3, column 3, A Grand Commercial Edifice,

The Most Commodious, Durable, massive and Imposing Commercial Building of the Metropolis---A Grand Triumph of Renaissance School of Architecture---The Equitable Life Assurance Society's Building---Modern Commercial Conveniences.

Towering grandly and most conspicuously above all surrounding edifices, and crowned by a double-faced Mansard roof, and more lofty pavilions, is the magnificent, new, and wonderfully attractive Concord white granite structure located at the corner of Broadway and Cedar street. Surrounded as is this wonder of architecture and mechanical skill by many of our most stately and lofty brick, brownstone, granite, and marble commercial palaces, yet, towering far above them all, the attention of the passer by is drawn irresistibly aside from all these other Broadway wonders to contemplate this, the glory of them all. As we pause on the opposite pavement to view this most majestic and magnificent of all the commercial buildings of our own or of all continents, we are delighted with the symmetrical outlines of the Renaissance school of architecture from which the design of this new building wonder has been drawn.

As we approach the central business location of the city, upon which this vast edifice has been erected, our attention is first attracted by its extraordinary massiveness and solidity. As our gaze reaches upward to its seventh story, we are surprised and delighted with the beautiful outlines of the structure and the harmonious combinations of elaborately chiseled granite, bastions, columns, arches, and facings. Approaching it from uptown, we have the fullest view of its Mansard roof, two stories in height, and the two majestic pavilions which crown it. As we inspect its exterior more closely, we are struck with the peculiar adaptability for commercial buildings of this white granite, which we ascertain is from a new quarry recently opened near Concord, New Hampshire. For such a classical rendering of the Renaissance school as the architects have applied to this structure, it affords a most delightful combination of light and shade, and presents an aspect of warmth and transparency not to be found in brownstone, red sandstone, Illinois buff, or glaring white marble. The deep Mansard roof is most happily relieved by boldly projected cornices, stone dormer windows, and a high, ornamental, galvanized cast-iron railing. The great windows, too, attract our attention, and we hastily and properly decide that they are larger than any other windows in any building on our continent.


From our hasty view of the exterior of this architectural wonder of the year, we give our praise to a design of such rare classical beauty, and acknowledge that the whole country, or any European city either, does not furnish a rival. The peculiar preference of the architects for the classical design of the Renaissance school over the Venetian is certainly one of the happiest. By its selection, the whole exterior appearance of the building is relieved of the bizarre and ludicrous effect to be observed in so many of our so-called Renaissance buildings.


This great building, fronting five full numbers, 116, 118, 120, 122, and 124, on Broadway, and 84, 86, and 88 Cedar street, is constructed of white granite, iron and brick; in all, about 6,000 tons of these materials have been used. A million and a half bricks have been employed in its inside walls and floors. It is covered by 15,000 superficial feet of slate roofing. The height of the building from pavement to roof is 145 feet, and to the massive gilt eagle which crowns the pavilion facing on Broadway is 200 feet.


Over the projected and massive portico of the Broadway entrance will be placed an exquisitely wrought group of statuary, the emblem of the Society. It is from a model in plaster by Ward, now being cut in the finest Italian marble. It represents the guardian angel of life assurance holding a shield in the left arm over the widow and orphan, while it holds a spear in the right. Its extreme height is 11 feet. Of all the emblematic marble groupings in the country this is certainly one of the most appropriate and attractive.


is the Equitable Life Assurance Society, which at present occupies the second and third floors of Nos. 92 and 94 Broadway, where it has been located since its organization in 1859. The officers at present consist of the Hon. Wm C. Alexander, President; Henry B. Hyde, Vice-President; James W. Alexander, Secretary; Geo. W. Phillips, Actuary; Edward W. Lambert, M.D., and Alfred Lambert, M.D., Examining Physicians; Willard Parker, M.D., Consulting Physician; Henry Day, Attorney; and Henry M. Alexander, counsel.


Before entering the grand edifice, at present the pride of all the commercial buildings on our continent, we called at the Society's offices, for we naturally queried for whom and for what purpose was this commodious and magnificent building constructed. We learned the following from the presiding officers and heads of the departments: The building will cost when finished upward of $1,500,000. It was projected in 1864, for at that time the corporation found that its rapidly increasing business demanded more extensive office accommodations. They determined to secure an eligible site, and construct a model building upon it. One of the most desirable objects to be obtained was perfect security from fire. Their 40,000 or more valuable documents were in constant danger from fire, and not longer ago than last winter they barely escaped conflagration. The wisdom displayed by the Society in thus desiring to secure their papers forever from destruction by fire is most praiseworthy. The Board of Directors appointed a committee consisting of Messrs. Henry A. Hulbert, Wm. G. Lambert, and Henry Marquand, and authorized them to secure an appropriate building site. On the 19th of December, 1865, the committee purchased lots Nos. 116, 118, and 120 Broadway, and 88 Cedar street, from the United States Telegraph Company. The following year they purchased lots 84 and 86 Cedar street. This gave them an L shaped lot. In 1867, after much vexatious negotiations, they secured lots 122 and 124 Broadway, at a cost of $300,000. This gave the company 7,967 superficial feet, purchased at a cost of $59.62 per square foot, which, all things considered, was a most reasonable price. $300 per superficial foot has been offered and refused for the ground corner Wall and Broad streets. The Park Bank site, 6,020 feet, though inside lots, cost $53.15 per foot. In estimating building sites 25 to 30 per cent. less value is given inside lots. As soon as this last purchase was made, a Building Committee, consisting of Messrs. W.G. Lambert, Chairman, Henry B. Hyde, John Auchincloss, Wm. T. Blodget, and Henry G. Marquand, was selected. They visited our larger cities to study and investigate plans, buildings, and estimates. They examined designs presented by eleven different architects, and accepted that handed in by Messrs. Gilman and Kendall. Geo. B. Post was appointed associate architect, to supervise iron construction.


Curiosity promoted us to inquire into the history, standing, and management of this Society, which had found it necessary to erect such a vast structure. Our investigation resulted in our becoming satisfied that the Equitable is one of the best managed corporations in the business world. It was organized in 1859 with a capital of $100,000, which was invested in bonds at a premium of $1,600. This started the Company that much in debt. There is nothing peculiar in their having thus started with so small a capital, but when we find that from such a beginning the assets of the Society have grown to the enormous sum of about twelve million dollars, with an annual income of $6,000,000, and rapidly increasing, we as well as the millions interested in life insurance may well inquire into the policy and plans of a Company which has achieved such unparalleled success. Its standing risks are about $135,000,000. Its last year's business reached the enormous sum of $51,891,825. Its cash income exceeds the total cash premium of all American companies combined during the year 1861. Its volume of business for a single year is greater than the combined new business of all companies reporting to the New York Insurance Department in 1862 by $10,000,000. We presume that the new business of the Equitable for the past year has never been surpassed by that transacted in any single year by any company in the world.

Its President, the Hon. William C. Alexander, has occupied that place since its organization ten years ago. He was President of the New Jersey State Senate for a number of years, is an LL D., one of New York's most benevolent citizens, and a son of the late distinguished Archibald Alexander, of Princeton College. The Vice-President Mr. Henry B. Hyde, has also held that second position since the Society was organized. These two gentlemen believed that an Insurance Company organized and managed under strict economical principles could afford by means of annual dividends to insure life at rates below those of the majority of other companies. They associated with them such business men only as had achieved great financial success. The income of the Society has been invested with such judicious care that it has never been obliged to foreclose a mortgage. In making its loans the Society principally invested in bond and mortgage and gives decided preference to its own policy holders. It thus becomes, as its officers desire, the benefactor of its own patrons, and thus establishes a genuine mutual business connection. They invest all receipts immediately, holding in bank only such an amount of funds as is necessary to meet current expenditures.


Accompanied by the officers of the Equitable, we visited the interior of their new building. We had previously examined the plans, elevations, and other working drawings for the edifice at the office of Mr. Ed. H. Kendall, 92 Broadway. He had shown us the various designs for the interior, embracing decorations in iron, marble, bronze, and stucco, which are now being elaborated under his personal supervision. We enter this commercial palace at its central entrance on Broadway. We find an opening vestibule 20 feet square and 33 feet high, with stairs on either side conducting to the principal floor above. Between these two flights are a few broad steps, by which we descend to the spacious basements, which are thus made as convenient and desirable as the upper rooms. The first floor is divided into three grand banking rooms, with burglar and fire proof vaults and toilet conveniences. The grand banking room on the corner of Broadway and Cedar street is 32 x 90 feet. The other two are 25 x 50 feet each. Separating them is the grand corridor with tiled marble floor and wainscoting in fine marble, five feet high on all sides. We pass half-way down this corridor to the grand stairs, upon either side of which is one of Otis Tufts's incomparable steam passenger elevators. These two elevator passages are 130 high, each being 15 feet higher than that built by Mr. Tufts, of Boston, for the Grand Hotel, and the highest in the world, and which was described in THE SUN last September. They are built under his exclusive patents, with six twisted iron ropes each. Underneath one of them is a freight attachment to accommodate the packing and printing departments of the Equitable. By employing these elevators, the only secure ones constructed, the rooms of the upper stories are as desirable as those of the first floors. Their occupants have more wholesome atmosphere, and are free from the noise of the streets. Such a revolution in commercial building conveniences are these elevators working, that we learn from their builder, Mr. Tufts, that he has numerous orders for them from Paris and London. We take a seat in one of these noiseless elevators, or ascend by the grand stairs to the second floor, that set aside and specially arranged for the immense business of the Society. We find here the most complete and imposing business hall in the world. It is spacious in area as the vast building itself. The center space of this floor, which is 26 feet high, 103 long, and 35 wide, is the clerks' department, in the center of which is a semicircular skylight, giving an additional 7 feet in height. Within this space are 12 ponderous iron columns, 26 feet high, covered an inch deep with variegated marble cement. Extending around this imposing space is a solid marble counter, with a running length of 225 feet. It is surmounted with an ornamental bronze screen, for protecting valuable documents and papers. Within the space enclosed by this counter is room for 150 clerks. Connecting with this grand hall are two tiers of offices for the agents and officers of the company. Each tier has an altitude of one half the grand hall, or 13 feet. Each one of these rooms---40 in all---connects directly with the grand hall, and inside the upper tier is a gallery extending entirely around the floor, paved with marble and protected by an elegant iron railing. From any point of this gallery a view may be had of every desk in the grand hall. Across the entire front of this floor, fronting on Broadway, are five large rooms for the use of the presiding officers and the Board of Directors. They are connected by double sliding doors, so that in case of necessity the whole front may be thrown into one room. The doors are heavy oak and etched glass. The desks and furniture are of the finest American hard woods. From the Vice-President's room is a private spiral stairway conducting to the marble gallery around the upper tier of offices.


Leaving the ground floor, we pass upward by the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh stories to the roof. Intervening between the grand hall and roof are fifty spacious offices, which, with the three large banking offices of the first floor and great rooms of the basement, will be rented for business purposes. Toilet conveniences, equal to the most approved, are found attached to them all. It has been estimated that the rent accruing from these rooms and banking offices will pay full interest on all money expended in constructing and furnishing the building, and still leave the Equitable its second floor free of rent---which is another studied, advantageous consideration for the policy holders.

The ventilation of this building has been under the personal supervision of Prof. Leeds. The lathing, all of which is iron, is from a new pattern from the West Point foundry. There is considerable fine marble work in the building, besides the marble emblematical group over the portico. Rolling iron shutters protect the great windows. Vast vaults extend from the building underground half way across Broadway and Cedar street. These are for the use of banks, insurance companies, or private parties.


From the seventh story we ascend to the roof, and still higher to one of the pavilions, where we find ourselves at a higher altitude than can be had on any other roof-top in New York, or from any position other than our highest church spires. Before us is spread the most exciting, wonderful, and instructive view to be had on our continent. The brown roofs of the buildings of the city extend over the island like a vast table land. East and North Rivers and the bay appear as if at our feet, with their myriad flotillas of the navigable world. Suburban Brooklyn, Jersey City, Hoboken, Hudson City, and Harlem are all plainly before us. Certainly not elsewhere in all New York can such another unobstructed bird's-eye view be had as from the open pavilions of the Equitable Life Assurance Society's building. We find them, as well as the great roof, surrounded by a heavy, ornamental, galvanized cast-iron railing.


We take our way down from the pavilions and roof by the winding stairway. Our attention as we reach the third floor is called to the large dining room of the Society, where all the officers and employees will be required to take their meals during business hours. The kitchen, a model in its way, is just in the rear. As we come down to the lower floors yesterday, we met a number of architects from Philadelphia who had been examining the building. Their opinion, with which we coincide, is that, for safety, strength, durability, blended with rare classical elegance, symmetry of outline. and harmonious combinations of architectural beauties, there is no rival among all the commercial buildings of the world to this property of the Equitable Life Assurance Society.

*Jan. 22, 1875, New York Times, The New Equitable Building,

More than six or seven years ago it was believed by some that the financial centre of the City would be changed from Wall street to the vicinity of the City Hall Park, but the erection of a large number of very substantial and commodious buildings in Wall street and its immediate vicinity, the permanent location of the Stock Exchange, the purchase by the United States of the Assay Office and the Sub-Treasury, the establishment of the New-York Clearing House one block from the centre of Wall street, have settled this matter for the future. The proposed building on the present location of the Post Office as a common exchange for all the commercial interests of the City, the extension of the new Equitable Building---itself one of the most superb and well-arranged structures for business purposes---all contribute to make this locality the permanent financial centre. Within a radius of a few hundred feet from the corner of Pine and Nassau Streets will be found more corporations and institutions representing financial strength than in any part of this or any city upon this Continent. The new building of the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States is fast approaching completion. Favorably situated, with its three entrances on Broadway, Cedar and Pine Streets, the latter entrance one block from the heart of Wall Sreet, it embraces perhaps greater advantages than any other commercial building in the City, offering, by means of its six elevators, unequalled facilities for lawyers, who occupy almost exclusively its upper stories. The corporations who have occupied its first story and basement are prosperous and are extending their quarters. The German-American Bank will occupy a large banking-room in the rear, admirably lighted and far more spacious than their present one. The Hanover Fire Insurance Company extends it offices on Cedar Street. The Mercantile Trust Company, whose business is rapidly increasing, stretch their offices and safe deposit vaults more than fifty feet further on Cedar Street.

The citizens of Chicago and Boston are alive to the necessity of real fire-proof offices than we are now, but let a great conflagration once take place in this City, destroying the books and the records of business men, with all the confusion, inconvenience, and disaster incident to such a catastrophe, and the value of entire security will then be fully felt. The great fire in Boston was stopped by the Post Office, a structure almost identical with that of the Equitable Life Building, being of the same material and method of construction. When, added to this, careful supervision and policing such as is possible in so large a building as the Equitable is carried out, every tenant may feel that as far as human foresight can reach, all avenues of safety are comprehended.

The rooms in this building were offered the first part of this week, and more than one-half of the accomodations presented have altready been rented. We append herewith a list of the corporations, lawyers, and others, who have offices at present, or who are to become tenants in the building after the 1rst of May next:

May 1, 1875, New York Times, "The New Addition to the Equitable Building,"

Ten months ago yesterday the ground was broken for the erection of the addition in the rear of the Equitable Building, at the corner of Cedar street and Broadway. Our readers are familiar with its massive facade, and no description of it is necessary. The activity of the company in constructing a building of such size, entirely of stone, iron, and brick, within so brief a period, is unprecedented in architecture, but is only the expression in a new department of that well-directed energy which has made the Equitable Life Insurance Company what it is. The rooms are to-day ready for the tenants, and they are actually taking possession. Among them are many of our richest corporations and leading lawyers. All the rooms up stairs are rented, and almost every one below. This is a great success in these dull times, when many large buildings are standing half empty. The tenants, too, are much to be congratulated. There are six elevators, which will be in constant operation, one running until late in the night. The light in the various rooms is copious, and the ventilation admirable. The "Law Library," for the exclusive benefit of tenants who are lawyers, is already in process of completion and is a feature which will always attract the members of that profession. The saving in interest to the company in the prompt erection of their building is enormous, and the thorough manner in which the whole matter has been carried through reflects the highest credit on those in charge.--Mail.

*April 6, 1877, New York Times, Life Insurance Affairs,

The Legislative Investigation. Senator Hammond Appears Before the Committee and Denies the Truth of Some of Mr. English's Statements. Mr. Furber's Examination Resumed. His Connection with the Charter Oak Company. The Cost of the Equitable Building.

ALBANY, April 5. The Insurance Committee resumed its investigation at 9:30 this morning. Previous to the resumption of the testimony the committee went into executive session, and it is understood that Mr. Floyd Jones made a motion to discontinue the investigation and make a report. What the result of the motion was is unknown

After the recess Theodore Weston testified that he was the architect of the Equitable Building; the work was commenced in may 1874, and was completeed in July, 1876; the leases commenced in may, 1875; the original office of the Equitable was seperated from the main building, and its completion was delayed; there is no restaurant in the building; Delmonico's adjoins it; the actual expense of putting up the main building was about $1,500,000, including the land; the additonal building cost about $1,000,000; witness received a salary of $15,000 per year; the preliminary plans were drawn by Mr. Kendall; he had not completed the plans before the building was commenced; the internal arrangements were left entirely to the preliminary drawing; there was no percentage paid upon any of the material to my knowledge; blank ; furnished a statement of expenditures to the Building Committee of the Equitable at almost every meeting; Mr. Lambert was Chairman of this committee; they had meetings three times a week; the plans were submitted to them, and the contracts were made by witness; upon the larger contracts, bids were advertised for; all payments were made by approval of the committee; Silman & Cheney were the contractors for the stone; they bid $98,000, I think; it was the lowest bid of 17; it ran a little over $3 per cubic foot upon the granite actually furnished; the granite was measured by myself; no commission nor any consideration was paid on the contract; the contractor for the masonry work who cut the stone was T.T. Smith; his work was let in the same way at $18 per 1,000 foot of brick, and $9, or about that, for setting the granite; that included pay for everything; he was paid nothing more; no one else received any gratuity on account of the contract; he did the fire-proof wall in the interior and the plastering; for the first he received 40 or 50 cents, and for the last 42 cents, per square yard; Morton and Chesley did the carpenter work at about $65,000; no gratuity or commission was allowed anyone on any work; a number of contracts were made for the elevators, for the boilers, for the sub-cellar, for taking down the old building, and for other purposes; the entire work cost about $1,000,000, and upon it no bonus or commission was paid to any one; neither to officers, Directors, not any one else; the granite contractors furnished about $1,500 worth of work for Mr. Hyde's house on Long Island; Mr. Calvert Vaux was the architect of the house.

April 27, 1879, New York Times, Ruining Business Streets,

Property-Owners Protesting. The Determined Opposition to the Schemes of the Elevated Railroads.

Down-town merchants and the owners of property in streets south of the City Hall are manifesting more feeling from day to day against the schemes of the elevated railway managers to confiscate thoroughfares in the lower part of the City for no other purpose than the benefiting of certain special interests. The lack of any public necessity for taking possession of more down-town streets has been apparent from the outset.

[Among the Names:]

W. A. CAMP, manager New-York Clearing-house, owner, No. 15 Nassau-street.
JOHN SCHERMERHORN, owner, No. 17 Nassau-street.
F.W. BLOODGOOD, owner, No. 19 Nassau-street
W.H. GEBHARD, owner, No. 21 Nassau-street
G. MEAD TOOKER, Executor, owner, Nos. 23 and 25 Nassau-street (Belmont Building)

*March 22, 1881, New York Times, Suit Against An Insurance Society,

A suit in which part of the relief asked for by the plaintiffs is the appointment of a Receiver of the Equitable Life Assurance Society was tried before Judge Larremore, in the Supreme Court, Special Term, yesterday. The plaintiffs are John H. Bewley and his wife, Marietta Bewley. They are policy-holders of the defendant corporation, and bring their action as such and on behalf of the other policy-holders. They allege that the Equitable Society has acted against its charter, and has violated the statutes affecting it and like corporations. It has, the plaintiffs aver, invested funds in property and undertakings not within the scope of its rightful business, and has therefore gone outside of the purposes for which it was created. Among the improper things which the company is said to have done is the investment of $4,000,000 in the building at No. 120 Broadway, of $450,000 in the premises at Nos. 112 and 114 Broadway, of $1,000,000 in an edifice in Boston, of $1,100,000 in the stock of the Mercantile Trust Company, of $80,000 in erecting safes for the Mercantile Safe Deposit Company in this City, and of $10,000 in safes for the Equitable Safe Deposit Company in Boston. The Equitable Life Assurance Society demurred to the complaint on the ground that the plaintiffs were not entitled to bring the action without the countenance of the Attorney-General, and that the allegations did not constitute a valid cause of action. The trial was upon the demurrer. Mr. William Blakie appeared for the plaintiffs, and Messrs. Alexander & Green for the defendants.

Oct. 3, 1884, New York Times, Remarkable Building Work,

Where the Stone of the Mutual Life Building Came From,

The excellence of the stone and marble work in the new building of the Mutual Life Insurance Company has attracted admiration from all quarters.

Oct. 27, 1884, New York Times, Decorations at the Opera,

Since it was decided that opera in German should be given this Winter at the Metropolitan there bas been the usual lack of energy in meeting the worst faults of the new opera house as a place of resort for fashionable people. At the eleventh hour Mr. Francis Lathrop was summoned, and his scheme for mitigating the badness of the old system of color was accepted.

Nov. 17, 1885, New York Times, Equitable Building Alterations,

Vice-President Borrowe, of the Equitable Life Assurance Society, filed plans at the Bureau of Buildings yesterday for extensive additions and alterations to the Equitable Building, at No. 120 Broadway. The building now takes in No. 120 Broadway, Nos. 76-82 Cedar-street, and No. 12 Pine-street. The plans contemplate the building of an extension 80 feet front on Broadway, extending to Pine-street, and 191 feet deep. The present mansard roof will be removed and a new roof will be put on over the entire building. The structure, when the additions and alterations are completed, will be eight stories high in some portions and nine in others. The highest point will be 155 feet above the level of the sidewalk. The cost of the extensions and alterations to the building, the plans for which were drawn by Architect George B. Post, were not given.

Jan. 3, 1887, New York Times, The New Equitable Building,

The new Equitable Building will be completed and thrown open to tenants and the public on or before the 1st of next May. The work, which has been pushed with extraordinary energy, was only begun on the first of last May. The building is now inclosed and the scaffolding nearly down.

The marble tiling is going down in the corridors, and many of the walls are already plastered. It is stated that on the 10th of January plans will be exhibited and leases made and that those renting offices then will be able to move into them before the 1rst of May next.

January 10, 1887, New York Times, "A Great Insurance Building.

What the New Equitable Building Is To Be---A Model Broadway Structure That Will Be Ready For Occupancy On The First Of May.

Excerpts: is written everywhere by the presence of materials that fire cannot make its impress on, and that are so solidly knit together that they would seem to bid defiance to any convulsion of nature itself. The building is what it seems to be, an absolutely fireproof structure.

Lawyers also appreciate the advantages of absolutely fire-proof quarters for records and papers.

Protection from fire is assured, not only by the character of the building itself, but by the presence in the building of three hydraulic pumping engines, having a capacity of forcing 7,500 gallons of water a minute, in addition to the pumps run in connection with the great water tanks on the roof.

Below them on the basement floor will be the offices of the Mercantile Safe Deposit, the largest institution of its kind in the world. The Mercantile Trust Company, one of the most important financial institutions in the city, has already secured desirable quarters.

It is to lawyers that the smaller and cozy rooms on the upper floors will prove specially attractive. Not only will they be particularly desirable for an attorney's office because of their interiors finished in quartered oak, and their roomy book shelves and closets, but because the occupants will have the privilege of availing themselves of the Equitable Law Library. Over 7,000 volumes of reports, digests, and textbooks, court reports, Federal and State, in this country, and those of the English, Scotch, and Irish courts, are on the shelves, and all the periodical law publications of consequence of this country and Europe are on the tables. That library is one of the most complete and valuable in the country, and its use is free to all lawyers who are tenants of the building, that alone makes it one of the most desirable spots in the city for a lawyer to be located, be his practice great or small. How great an advantage the presence of such a library readily at hand would be to the young attorney, whose library is necessarily limited, can be seen at a glance. This library is located on the third floor of the building, in the room formerly used as a Directors' room by the Equitable Society. It is a light, airy room, with cozy alcoves, and every nook and corner has tier upon tier of shelves loaded with the volumes containing the decisions of courts from Minnesota to Texas, from Maine to California, a perfect gold mine of legal lore to delve in. And delve there the legal tenant may to his heart's content, for it is put there expressly for his use.

April 30, 1889, New York Times, Received By His Friends, Congratulations and Festivities at the Equitable Building,

July 8, 1899, New York Times, A Granite Quarries Combine?

May 3, 1901, Brooklyn Eagle, Unveiled Yesterday in the Equitable Building on Second Anniversary of His Death, Page: 20

Dec. 23, 1889, New York Times, A Gold Medal Window,
On Saturday and Sunday afternoons Mr. Francis Lathrop exhibited at his atelier, on South Washington-square, the stained-glass windows that won a gold medal at the recent Industrial Exhibition in Philadelphia. They are meant for Princeton College, and are intended as a memorial on the part of Mr. Henry G. Marquand.


May 3, 1887, New York Times, Wall-Street Changes,
Wall-Street did a good deal of moving yesterday. A hundred Stock Exchange firms have gone into new quarters. The Equitable Building and other new buildings were generally filled. Many firms have changed partners

May 11, 1887, New York Times, Mr. Mannings Bank Opened,
The Western National Bank, of which ex-Secretary Manning is President, opened its doors to the public yesterday. It is on the first floor of the Equitable Building, on the Cedar-street side

May 5, 1897, Brooklyn Eagle, Display Ad; 23,091 persons entered the Equitable Building on the 28th of April, by actual count on that day. This fact warrants the statement that the building may be considered as the center of business activity in the Wall Street district of New York.

The Equitable Building furnishes all the advantages of the modern high buildings, and besides these it maintains one of the best law libraries in the city, practically giving to every lawyer who is a tenant of the building more than double the accomodations which he pays for in rent, besides rendering it unnecessary for him to keep a downtown law library of his own.

The Law Library in the Equitable Building contains the United States Supreme Circuit and District Court Reports; all the Reports, Digests and Session Laws; Revisions and Codes of General Laws of the various American States; also the English, Irish, Scottish and Canadian Reports; Digests and Sessions Laws and Revisions; and also a good selection of Text Books and Law Periodicals; being in all over 15,000 volumes.

In addition to the Law Library, tenants in the Equitable Building find under the same roof banks, bankers, trust companies, fire-insurance companies, stock brokers, a safe deposit company, a Mercantile Library agency, the Cafe Savarin, the Lawyers' Club, with its dining, grill and smoking rooms, unexcelled in convenience and comfort by any club rooms in the city, and its separate dining apartments for ladies, all of which are most tastefully arranged and decorated. There are also under the same roof a Western Union telegraph office, a pay telephone station, a public barber-shop, besides such less important conveniences as a theater ticket office, a bootblack's stand, a fruit stand, a confectionery store and a book and newsdealer's counter. The first floors of the building are frequented by more business men than are to be found in some good-sized cities, the building being entered daily by more people than enter any other building in New York.

It was the first fire-proof building especially adapted for business offices erected in the United States and provided with "modern conveniences," including elevators, which were at that time a novelty.

The original Equitable Building was begun in 1868 at the corner of Broadway and Cedar Street, on a plot of ground measuring 87 by 135 feet. In 1874 the size of the building was doubled by extensions on Cedar Street and through to Pine Street. In 1886 it was again doubled in size, and in the year 1887 the present Equitable Building, extending along the entire block on Broadway, from Cedar Street to Pine Street, was completed and made new in all its details of interior construction with the most modern plumbing and ventilating apparatus, ten hydraulic elevators of the best construction and all known conveniences for business purposes.

The greatness of the Equitable Building does not consist in its height, but in its vast breadth and depth. The broad corridor running through it from Broadway to Nassau Street is three hundred and twenty-five feet long. It stands in the center of the financial district of New York City, where its situation and the many conveniences which are furnished to its tenants make it the superior of all edifices of a similar character in any city of the United States. It is the best known and most widely advertised building throughout the entire country. It is not onlt well known to residents of New York, but strangers and travellers have heard of it, and they come from all parts of the globe.

Nov. 22, 1893, New York Times, Down-Town Realty Sold; Purchases of Much More Than a Million of Dollars,

John Anderson's Old Corner at Broadway and Pine Street Brings $400,000 -- A Twelve-Story Building to Grace the Site -- The Equitable Life Assurance Society Buys the Clearing House Building at Nassau and Pine Streets -- A Liberty Street Sale -- Money at 4 1-2 Per Cent. -- Sales at Auction.

Three notable sales of down-town real estate were had yesterday. One of these was the southeast corner of Broadway and Pine Street, the second the northwest corner of Nassau and Pine Streets, and the third the property at 45 Liberty Street. All were discussed with interest by real estate men. and two of them especially so, because these purchases mean improvement by buildings....

The larger transaction yesterday as regards the price obtained was the sale of the Clearing House Building and site at Nassau and Pine Streets. This is an old-fashioned brownstone building, five stories high. The lot measures 36.7 feet on Nassau Street by 80.3 feet on Pine. The property was bough by the Equitable Life Assurance Society. Exactly what was paid is somewhat a matter of conjecture. The lowest statement put the price at $600,000. Other figures given make it $700,000. There are in the plot about 2,800 square feet. taking the lowest statement, it makes the price at nearly $215 per square foot. The Equitable Society now owns the entire block bounded by Broadway, Nassau, Cedar, and Pine Streets, excepting the small building at 17 Nassau Street and the two at 23 and 25 Nassau, which, however, were leased a few years ago to it by John Egmont Schermerhorn and the Mead estate, through Mr. John N. Golding, for fifty years. It is expected that the Equitable will tear down the old structure which has sheltered the Clearing House and the Chase National Bank for so many years and put on the site an addition to its own large edifice, in keeping with the style and appointments of the latter.

The third of the sales was by Mr. W.E. Asten, of the four-story brick structure and lot at 45 Liberty Street. This is the third building to the west of the old fire-engine house, sold last week for $110,000 to the Lawyers' Title Insurance Company. Neither the terms of sale nor the name of the purchaser were made public yesterday, but it is known that Mr. Asten received more than $100,000. The lot is 17.5 feet by 75.3, containing about 1,300 square feet. It brought about $80 per square foot. Mr. Asten owned this property many years ago. He exchanged it for some up-town lots with the late Peter Lalor, while there were about $75,000 of mortgages upon it. After Mr. Lalor's death the property was sold at auction, and Mr. Asten was the purchaser at the sale.

*January 14, 1906, New York Times, Equitable Block Complete After Forty Years' Buying,

First News of Another Deal, Made Over a Year Ago, Brought Out by Purchase of 17 Nassau Street -- Prices Paid for Various Parcels in the Block

As marking the close of a real estate buying project that has covered forty years, last week's purchase of 17 Nassau Street by the Equitable Life was a happening of no little interest. It had become so much a matter of habit to speak of the "Equitable Block" that probably not one real estate man in a hundred knew before last Thursday morning that there was one small parcel which prevented this expression from being the exact, literal truth.

Furthermore, in the gossip which went the rounds last week as the result of the purchase of 17 Nassau Street the interesting fact was developed, but not hitherto made public, that it was only a little over a year ago that the Equitable bought the Nassau and Cedar Street corner of the block, a plot 45.5 by 87.7, upon which stands the building largely occupied by August Belmont & Co. This property was sold to the Equitable in September, 1904, through Horace S. Ely & Co., and was deeded to the society, but the instruments have never been recorded. Prior to that time title to the property was vested in Frederick G. Mead and another.

The announcement by John N. Golding concerning the sale of 17 Nassau Street was disappointingly silent on the subject of price. The lot measures 25 by 80---2,000 square feet---and there are few downtown experts prepared to believe that it brought less than $500,000, or $250 a square foot.

It is not likely that the Equitable Trustees have given any serious consideration to the scheme for erecting a new building on the block, an undertaking which was talked of a good deal two or three years ago at the time when the society bought the Trinity Building property. Indeed, the chief reason for the purchase of the latter site was said to be the necessity of providing quarters for the society while its older property was in process of improvement, but whatever the reason, it will be recalled that the Equitable tired of its Trinity Building bargain after a few months, and handed the property back to the United States Realty Company, thus ending for the time all talk of a new Equitable Building.

That the present massive and costly structure will sooner or later give way to a modern building seems beyond question. The remark made by one of the best known skyscraper constructors in the country, that the materials in the Equitable Building, if they could be recast into a modern steel skeleton structure, ought to inclose about three times as much space as they do to-day, puts the whole matter in a nutshell. The completion of the Trinity Building and its duplicate on the Boreel site may also serve to impress upon the Equitable offciers the possibilities of their plot on the opposite side of Broadway.

It is almost forty years to a day since the Equitable Life made its first purchase in the block bounded by Broadway, Nassau, Pine, and Cedar Streets.

The deed covering the properties, then known as 116 and 118 Broadway, was dated Jan. 5, 1866. These buildings had a Broadway frontage of about 53 feet, beginning 33.6 feet south of Cedar Street, and extending around the latter thoroughfare at the rear, with a frontage of 22 feet. The area of the plot was about 5,600 square feet, and the consideration stated in the deed was $375,000, or about $67 a square foot. The adjoining parcels on Cedar Street, on plot 44.4 by 71, were secured a few days later by a deed dated Jan. 17, 1866. The consideration was $90,000, or about $32 a square foot.

The immediate corner of Broadway and Cedar Street, 33 by 70, did not pass into the company's psossession until 1868, the transfer being made for a nominal consideration. The company then controlled frontages of 86.8 feet on Broadway and about 137 feet on Cedar Street.

An interval of six years followed with no additions to the site. In 1874 Gen. Daniel Butterfield conveyed to the Equitable Life 112 and 114 Broadway, adjoining its previous holdings on the south and extending to within 43 feet of the Pine Street corner. Gen. Butterfield's property measured 38.3 by 143 by 35 by 150, and was sold for $302,887---at the rate of $35 a square foot. In the same year further purchases were also made on Cedar Street, as well as the first purchase on Pine Street. No. 12 Pine Street, about 80 feet west of Nassau Street, was bougt, together with an abutting parcel, having a frontage of 64 feet on the south side of Cedar Street. These properties were conveyed in April, 1874, by Theodore Weston, the consideration for them all being $319,000.

A year later as intervening property on Cedar Street was secured, completing the Equitable's ownership of all the buildings on the south side of that thoroughfare, extending east 221 feet from the Broadway corner and to within 88 feet of Nassau Street, or up to the plot which, as laready stated, was bought only about a year ago.

The Broadway and Pine Street corner, 43 by 101, was transferred to the society in January, 1885, by the Metropolitan National Bank for $762,500. This plot contained over 4,400 square feet, making the price at the rate of $173 a square foot. In the preceding year the Equitable had succeeded in extending its holdings around this corner by buying what used to be known as 4 and 6 Pine Street, 40 by 63, for $267,500, and 8 and 10 Pine Street, 46.2 by 66.7, for $400,000. At that time title to these parcels was taken by the late Marcellus Hartley, but they were turned over to the Equitable five years later at the same consideration.

In 1886, 19 and 21 Nassau Street, midway between Pine and Cedar Streets, where the Nassau Street entrance of the Equitable Building is to-day, were secured, the deeds in both cases containing only nominal prices. The then remaining properties in the block were the Nassau and Cedar Street corner, the old Clearing House on the Pine Street corner, and the adjoining building, 17 Nassau Street.

The Clearing House corner, 37.6 by 80.3, was transferred early in 1896, by the trustees of that institution, to James G. Wallace for $725,000, and conveyed by him a few months later to John E. Searles, then Treasurer of the American Sugar Refining Company, for $740,000. The transfer from Mr. Searles to the Equitable was made a year later, for a nominal consideration. On the basis of the price paid by Mr. Searles, the square foot rate for this corner figures down to about $253, or just about what was paid last week for the adjoining inside lot.

In this connection it may be pointed out that this inside parcel on Nassau Street brought over 50 per cent. more a square foot than did the corner of Broadway and Pine Street twenty years ago, and nearly five time as much as was paid for property on the Broadway side of the block twenty-eight years ago.

*Jan. 13, 1906, The Weekly Underwriter, page 30,

By the purchase this week of the seven story office building at No. 17 Nassau street, owned by John E. Schermerhorn, the Equitable Life came into possession of the entire block bounded by Broadway, Nassau, Cedar and Pine streets, estimated to be worth $20,000,000. It has taken the society thirty-five years to acquire the block. It is reported that the company contemplates building a big skyscraper on the site in the near future.

January 10, 1912, New York Tribune, Building for "Strength," Structure Was Intended to Reflect Society's Standing,

Up to four years ago the Equitable Life did not own the entire block. At the southwest corner of Cedar and Nassau Streets stood the old banking house of August Belmont & Co. That corner property was controlled by the society under a fifty-year lease. It also did not own the site at the northwest corner of Pine and Nassau Streets.When in 1908 it felt it needed more ground space it bought through John N. Golding both corner parcels, so it now owns in fee simple the entire block.

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