40 Wall Street
|40 Wall Street|
40 Wall Street in December 2005
|Alternative names||The Trump Building, Manhattan Company Building|
|Tallest in the world from April 1930 to May 27, 1930[I]|
|Preceded by||Woolworth Building|
|Surpassed by||Chrysler Building|
|Location||40 Wall Street|
New York, NY 10005
|Construction started||May 1929|
|Completed||May 1, 1930|
|Opening||May 26, 1930|
|Architectural||927 ft (283 m)|
|Top floor||836 ft (255 m)|
|Floor count||70 (+2 below ground)|
|Floor area||1,111,675 sq ft (103,278.0 m2)|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||H. Craig Severance (main architect)|
Yasuo Matsui (associate architect)
Shreve & Lamb (consulting architect)
Manhattan Company Building
NYC Landmark No. 1936
|Location||40 Wall Street, New York, NY|
|Area||less than one acre|
|Architect||H. Craig Severance, Yasuo Matsui, et al.|
|Part of||Wall Street Historic District (ID07000063)|
|NRHP reference No.||00000577|
|Added to NRHP||June 16, 2000|
|Designated NYCL||December 12, 1995|
40 Wall Street, also known as the Trump Building, is a 927-foot-tall (283 m) neo-Gothic skyscraper on Wall Street between Nassau and William streets in the Financial District of Manhattan in New York City. Erected in 1929–1930 as the headquarters of the Manhattan Company, the building was originally known as the Bank of Manhattan Trust Building, and also as the Manhattan Company Building, until its founding tenant merged to form the Chase Manhattan Bank. It was designed by H. Craig Severance with Yasuo Matsui and Shreve & Lamb.
The building is on an L-shaped site. While the lower section has a facade of limestone, the upper stories incorporate a buff-brick facade and contain numerous setbacks. Other features of the facade include spandrels between the windows on each story, which are recessed behind the vertical piers on the facade. At the top of the building is a pyramid with a spire at its pinnacle. The Manhattan Company's main banking room and board room were on the lower floors, while the remaining stories were rented to tenants. The former banking room was converted into a Duane Reade store.
Plans for 40 Wall Street were revealed in April 1929, with the Manhattan Company as the primary tenant, and the structure was completed in May 1930. 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler Building were competing for the distinction of world's tallest building at the time of both buildings' construction, though the Chrysler Building ultimately won that title. In its early years, 40 Wall Street suffered from low tenancy rates, as well as a plane crash in 1946. Ownership of the building and the land underneath it, as well as the leasehold on the building, has changed several times throughout its history. Since 1982, the building has been owned by two German companies. The leasehold was once held by interests on behalf of former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos, though a company controlled by developer Donald Trump has held the lease since 1995.
The building was designated a city landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1995 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) in 2000. It is also a contributing property to the Wall Street Historic District, a NRHP district created in 2007.
40 Wall Street is in the Financial District of Manhattan, in the middle of the block bounded by Pine Street to the north, William Street to the east, Wall Street to the south, and Nassau Street to the west. The site is L-shaped, with a longer facade on Pine Street than on Wall Street. The lot covers 33,600 square feet (3,120 m2) and measures 209 feet (64 m) on Pine Street and 150 feet (46 m) on Wall Street. The lot has a total area of 34,360 square feet (3,192 m2).
40 Wall Street is surrounded by numerous buildings, including Federal Hall National Memorial and 30 Wall Street to the west; 44 Wall Street and 48 Wall Street to the east; 28 Liberty Street to the north; and 23 Wall Street and 15 Broad Street to the south. The site slopes down southward, so that the Pine Street entrance is on the second floor while the Wall Street entrance is on the first floor.
The building was designed by lead architect H. Craig Severance, associate architect Yasuo Matsui, and consulting architects Shreve & Lamb. Moran & Proctor were consulting engineers for the foundation, the Starrett Corporation was the builder, and Purdy and Henderson were the structural engineers. The interior was designed by Morrell Smith with Walker & Gillette. While 40 Wall Street's facade has "modernized French Gothic" features, its massing is designed more similarly to the Art Deco style, and there are also elements of classical architecture as well as abstract shapes.
40 Wall Street is 70 stories tall, with two additional basement stories.[a] The building's pinnacle reaches 927 feet (283 m), briefly making it the world's tallest building upon its completion. The Bank of Manhattan Building had an observation deck on the 69th and 70th floors, 836 feet (255 m) above the street, with the observatory able to fit up to 100 people. The observatory was closed to the public sometime after World War II.
40 Wall Street, like many other early-20th-century skyscrapers in New York City, is designed as if it were a standalone tower. It is one of several skyscrapers in the city that have pyramidal roofs.[b] The floors at the six-story base cover the entire "L"-shaped lot, while the seventh through 35th stories (making up the middle section) are shaped in a "U", with two wings of different lengths facing west. The massing of the building on the seventh through 35th stories occupies nearly the entire lot. Above the 35th story, the building rises as a smaller, square tower through the 62nd story.
40 Wall Street incorporates several setbacks to conform with the 1916 Zoning Resolution. On the Wall Street side, the central portion of the facade is recessed through the 26th floor, while symmetrical pavilions project slightly on either side, with setbacks above the 17th, 19th, and 21st floors. The entire Wall Street facade has setbacks above the 26th, 33rd and 35th floors. The Pine Street facade is asymmetrical, with the western pavilion being much longer; it has a setback above the 12th floor. This side also contains setbacks above the 17th, 19th, 23rd, 26th, 28th, and 29th floors. The pairs of projecting pavilions on both sides are connected at the eighth floor by a dormer.
The building's west-facing wings are of different lengths; the northern wing is significantly longer and has cooling systems atop it, but both wings have minor setbacks above the 26th and 33rd floors, and rise only to the 35th floor. The eastern facade does not have any setbacks below the 35th story.
In general, the facade is composed of buff-colored brick, as well as decorative elements made of terracotta and brick. The vertical bays, which contain the building's windows, are separated by piers. Spandrel panels, which separate the rows of windows on each floor, are generally recessed behind the piers; the spandrels are generally darker on upper stories. The building's window openings, initially composed of one-over-one sash windows, were later replaced by numerous types of window-pane arrangements or by louvers.
The first through sixth stories contain a limestone-and-granite facade. 40 Wall Street contains a granite facade on the first story, which faces Wall Street. The second-to fifth-floor facades on both sides consist of a colonnade with pilasters made of limestone.
On the Wall Street side, the first floor initially had a central entryway with three bronze-and-glass doors, flanked by numerous entrances to the elevator lobby and the lower banking room. Double-height bronze-and-glass windows spanned the second and third floors, while cast-iron windows were on the fourth through sixth floors. Above the central entrance was a doorway that was topped by Elie Nadelman's Oceanus sculpture (also called Aquarius); it had been removed by the late 20th century. Between 1961 and 1963, Carson, Lundin & Shaw, added the granite cladding and reconfigured the doorways on the first floor, as well as replaced the second- through sixth-floor windows. By 1995, the entrance had been configured with seven bronze rectangular doors and three revolving doors, recessed behind the main facade. Letters reading "The Trump Building" are above the first floor, while the fourth floor has a pair of flagpoles.
The Pine Street side was arranged similarly to the Wall Street side and was similarly redesigned in 1961–1963. A 6-foot-diameter (1.8 m) clock existed on the Pine Street facade from 1967 to 1993. This portion of the facade consists of 11 bays; at ground level, this includes an entrance to the main elevator lobby, a service entrance, and storefronts slightly above grade. As with the Wall Street side, the fourth floor contains a pair of flagpoles.
The eighth through 35th stories comprise the midsection of the building. There are eight flagpoles on the ninth floor of the Wall Street side, four on each pavilion. On the 19th floor of the Pine Street side, there are louvers in place of window openings. On the 36th through 62nd stories, there are brick spandrels between the windows on each story. The spandrels above the 52nd through 57th floors are made of terracotta; above the 58th through 60th floors, terracotta with buttresses; and above the 61st and 62nd floors, darker bricks with pediments and rhombus patterns.
The building contains a pyramidal roof originally made of lead-coated copper. There is a cornice surrounding the roof. On top is a spire that contains a flagpole as well as a crystal ball.
The building's frame is made of steel. The superstructure contains eight main columns, each of which weighs 22 short tons (20 long tons; 20 t) and can carry loads of up to 4.6 million pounds (2,100,000 kg).
As originally arranged, 40 Wall Street hosted the Manhattan Company's banking facilities on the first through sixth floors; offices on its middle floors; and machinery, an observation deck, and recreation areas on the top floors. There were also 43 elevators inside the building when it opened, though as of 2020[update], there are 36 elevators. The Wall Street lobby contains escalators to the second floor, as well as stairs to the two basement levels, which contained the Manhattan Company's vault.
On the second floor was the main banking room, which measured 150 by 185 feet (46 by 56 m). The banking room could be accessed directly from Pine Street, where there was a foyer with two pairs of octagonal black-marble Ionic columns. The room itself consisted of a main hall below five groin vaults; there are arcades on either side of the main hall, which lead to smaller vaulted spaces. Murals by Ezra Winter once lined the walls, but have been removed. As of 2011[update], the second floor is occupied by a Duane Reade convenience store. On the south side, a pair of stairs on the south wall flanks the escalators and leads up to what was originally the officers' quarters, a rectangular room with five white-marble columns. This space had three doorways that led to private offices of Manhattan Company executives; the doorways to these offices contained round carvings with symbols of various economic sectors.
On the fourth floor was the board room of the Manhattan Company, designed in the Georgian style as an imitation of Independence Hall's Signers' Room. The board room contains several elements of the Doric order, such as columns, pilasters, and a frieze. Wooden doors and fireplaces with segmental arches are on the eastern wall, while false windows are on the western wall.
The Manhattan Company was established by Aaron Burr in 1799, ostensibly to provide clean water to Lower Manhattan. The company's true focus was banking, and it served as a competitor to Alexander Hamilton's Bank of New York, which previously held a monopoly over banking in New York City. The Manhattan Company was headquartered at a row house at 40 Wall Street, which served as the company's "office of discount and deposit". By the early 20th century, the company was growing quickly, having acquired numerous other banks.
The idea for the current skyscraper was devised by the banker George L. Ohrstrom. Ohrstrom began land acquisition for the building in 1928, originally going under the name 36 Wall Street Corporation. Stakeholders in the corporation included Ohrstrom and the builders Starrett Brothers (later Starrett Corporation). In September of that year, the 36 Wall Street Corporation acquired 34–36 Wall Street under a 93-year lease to the Iselin estate. At the time, the syndicate hoped to build a 20-story building. By that December, Ohrstrom had purchased four buildings, with frontage along 27–33 Pine Street and 34–38 Wall Street, and controlled a total area of 17,000 square feet (1,600 m2). The plans had been updated and the syndicate was now envisioning a 45-story building.
In January 1929, the 36 Wall Street Corporation planned a bond issue to fund the building's construction. That March, Ohrstrom announced that H. Craig Severance would design a 47-story structure at 36 Wall Street. The syndicate bought 25 Pine Street the same month. Shortly after Severance's original plans were announced, the skyscraper was modified to have 60 floors, but it was still shorter than the 792-foot (241 m) Woolworth Building and the then-under-construction, 808-foot (246 m) Chrysler Building. By April 8, 1929, The New York Times reported that Ohrstrom and Severance were planning to revise the skyscraper's plans to make it the world's tallest building. Two days later, it was announced that Severance had increased the tower's height to 840 feet (260 m) with 62 floors, exceeding the heights of the Woolworth and Chrysler buildings. It was also announced that the Manhattan Company would be 36 Wall Street's main tenant and that the new building would be known as the Bank of Manhattan Building or the Manhattan Company Building. The height of the building was made possible by the 33,600-square-foot (3,120 m2) lot, which was one of the densely-developed Financial District's largest lots.
The builders intended to spend large sums to reduce the construction period to one year, allowing rental tenants to move into the building sooner. By mid-April 1929, the tenants of existing buildings had moved elsewhere. The Manhattan Company and Chrysler buildings started competing for the distinction of "world's tallest building". The "Race into the Sky", as popular media called it at the time, was representative of the country's optimism in the 1920s, fueled by the building boom in major cities. The Manhattan Company Building was revised from 840 feet (260 m) to 925 feet (282 m) later in April 1929, which would make it the world's tallest. Severance then publicly claimed the title of the world's tallest building,[c] but the Starrett Corporation denied all allegations that the plans had been changed.
Construction of the Manhattan Company Building began in May 1929. By that time, the syndicate developing the building was known as the 40 Wall Street Corporation, and the building was also known as 40 Wall Street. The same month, the Manhattan Company leased its lots at 40–42 Wall Street and 35–39 Pine Street to the 40 Wall Street Corporation for 93 years. Ownership would be divided among the Manhattan Company, Iselin estate, and the 40 Wall Street Corporation, with the Manhattan Company holding a plurality stake. Simultaneously, the U.S. government invited bids on the adjoining building at 28–30 Wall Street, then occupied by a federal assay office. In June 1929, the government announced that the 40 Wall Street Corporation had placed the highest bid for the lot, bringing the syndicate's total land holding to 40,000 square feet (3,700 m2). However, the assay office plot was not to be part of the new skyscraper, instead being reserved for the Manhattan Company's future expansion. While construction was ongoing, the Manhattan Company moved to temporary headquarters.
Excavations for 40 Wall Street were complicated by numerous factors. There was little available space to store materials; the surrounding lots were all densely built up; the bedrock was 64 feet (20 m) below street level, beneath boulders and quicksand; and the previous buildings on the lot had contained foundations of up to 5 feet (1.5 m) thick. Therefore, the foundation of 40 Wall Street was constructed at the same time that buildings on the site were being cleared, due to the builders' time constraints. The old Manhattan Company building was the last to be cleared. Further, caisson construction could not be used to excavate the site since the existing foundation contained heavy masonry blocks. To ensure that the foundation could adequately support the structure, temporary lighter footings were installed during the demolition of the old buildings and construction of the first 20 stories, and permanent heavy footings were installed afterward. In July 1929, the builders held a ceremony where W.A. Starrett, head of the Starrett Corporation, drove the first rivet into the building's column. A $5 million loan was arranged the same month to finance the building.
Work on 40 Wall Street progressed quickly: the site was active 24 hours a day, with 2,300 workers working in three shifts, and interior furnishing progressed as the steel frame rose. The building topped out on November 13, 1929. By that time, the steel frame had reached 900 feet (270 m) above street level, the facade had been completed to the 54th story, and much of the internal furnishing had been completed. By December, rental agents Brown, Wheelock, Harris, Vought & Company were leasing out the space at the Chrysler and Manhattan Company buildings, which aggregated 2 million square feet (190,000 m2). Around the time, the 40 Wall Street Corporation was planning to issue $12.5 million in bonds.
The building was completed by May 1, 1930, and it officially opened on May 26. The Manhattan Company took the two basement levels for storage vaults; the first through sixth stories for bank operations; and the 55th floor for its officers' club. In total, $24 million had been spent on construction. Paul Starrett, of the Starrett Corporation, said that "Of all the construction work which I have handled, the Bank of Manhattan was the most complicated and the most difficult, and I regard it as the most successful."
Competition for "world's tallest building" title
In response to 40 Wall Street's completion, the Chrysler's architect William Van Alen obtained permission for a 125-foot (38 m) long spire for the Chrysler Building, and had it constructed secretly. The Chrysler Building's spire was completed on October 23, 1929, bringing that building to 1,046 feet (319 m) and greatly exceeding 40 Wall Street's height. Disturbed by Chrysler's victory, Shreve & Lamb wrote a newspaper article claiming that their building was the tallest, since it contained the world's highest usable floor. They stated that the observation deck at 40 Wall Street was nearly 100 feet (30 m) above the top floor in the Chrysler Building. 40 Wall Street's observation deck was 836 feet (255 m) while the Chrysler Building's observatory was 783 feet (239 m) high.
John J. Raskob, developer of the Empire State Building, also wanted to construct the world's tallest building. The "Race into the Sky" was defined by at least five other proposals, although only the Empire State Building would survive the Wall Street Crash of 1929.[d] Plans for the Empire State Building were changed multiple times; the final plan, published in December 1929, called for the building to be 1,250 feet (380 m) tall. The Empire State Building was completed in May 1931, becoming the world's tallest building both by roof height and spire height.
Because of late changes to the plans of both 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler Building, as well as the fact that the buildings were erected nearly simultaneously, it is uncertain whether 40 Wall Street was ever taller than the Chrysler Building. The author John Tauranac, who wrote a book about the Empire State Building's history, later stated that if 40 Wall Street had "ever had been the tallest building, they would have had bragging rights, and if they did, I certainly never heard them." If only completed structures are counted, 40 Wall Street was briefly the world's tallest completed building from the first week of May 1930 until the opening of the Chrysler Building on May 28, 1930.
Tenancy and foreclosure
40 Wall Street had opened following the Wall Street Crash of 1929, and so suffered from a lack of tenants. Many of the original tenants had withdrawn their commitments to rent space in the building, and in some cases, had gone bankrupt. As a result, only half of the space in 40 Wall Street was leased during the 1930s. Office space rented for $3 per square foot ($32/m2), rather than the $8 per square foot ($86/m2) that the building's owners had sought. For the first five years of the building's existence, the 40 Wall Street Corporation was able to pay the $323,200 interest on the second mortgage-bond issue.
By early 1939, the 40 Wall Street Corporation was falling behind on rent payments, ground leases, and property taxes. That May, the Marine Midland Trust Company started foreclosure proceedings against the 40 Wall Street Corporation after the corporation defaulted on "payments of interest, taxes and other charges". Marine Midland became the trustee of 40 Wall Street's first-mortgage fee and its bonds on the lease in February 1940, supplanting the 40 Wall Street Corporation in that role. Bondholders acquired the building that September in a transaction worth almost $11.5 million. The New York Times later described the building as being "a monument to lost hope" during that era: at the time, the building's $1,000 debentures were being sold at $108.75 apiece. The structure as a whole was worth $1.25 million, less than the 43 elevators inside the building had cost.
One of the larger tenants during this time was the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company, which in 1941 leased four floors. Other tenants included real-estate agents, lawyers, brokers, and bankers, and even a short-film theater in 1941. More tenants came during World War II, starting with the United States Department of the Navy. By 1943, the building was 80% leased, with that rate increasing to 90% a year later; 40 Wall Street was completely occupied by the end of the war. Many large tenants such as Prudential Financial, Westinghouse, and Western Union signed long-term leases. After several tenants left during the late 1940s, space in the building was completely rented again in 1951. At the time, 40 Wall Street's office space was renting for $4.22 per square foot ($45.4/m2), a relatively high price for a building without air conditioning.
1946 plane crash
On the evening of May 20, 1946, a United States Army Air Forces Beechcraft C-45F Expediter airplane crashed into 40 Wall Street's northern facade. 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 (6.1 m × 3.0 m) hole in the masonry. The crash killed all five aboard the plane, including a WAC officer, though no one in the building or on the ground was hurt. The fuselage and the wing of the splintered plane fell and caught onto the 12th-story setback, while parts of the aircraft and pieces of brick and mortar from the building fell into the street below. Fog and low visibility were identified as the main causes of the crash, since LaGuardia Field had 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. The month after the crash, the owners of 40 Wall Street filed a building application with the Department of Buildings to fix the hole in the facade.
This crash at 40 Wall Street was 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 1945, also caused by fog and poor visibility. The 1946 accident was the last time an airplane accidentally crashed into a building in New York City until the 2006 New York City plane crash on Manhattan's Upper East Side.
Mid-20th century to present
1950s through 1970s
Chase Manhattan Bank was created through the merger of the Manhattan Company and Chase National Bank in 1955. The new company was headquartered at Chase National's previous building at 20 Pine Street, immediately north of 40 Wall Street; soon afterward, Chase constructed a structure at the neighboring 28 Liberty Street to serve as its headquarters. Meanwhile, several offices as well as a bank branch remained in 40 Wall Street. By 1956, the building's financial situation had improved considerably, and the 40 Wall Street Corporation's $1,000 debentures were selling for $1,550. That year, real estate developer William Zeckendorf had his company Webb and Knapp buy the leaseholds for the land from 40 Wall Street Inc., Chase, and the estate of the Iselin family. Webb and Knapp also bought 32% of the 40 Wall Street Corporation's stock.
Webb and Knapp became the majority shareholders of the 40 Wall Street Corporation after buying further stock, thereby owning two-thirds of the corporation's shares. The firm attempted to sell 40 Wall Street for $15 million, but a New York Supreme Court judge placed an injunction on the sale in November 1957 after several shareholders claimed the sale was illegal. The corporation's stockholders then voted to sell the building in June 1959. To reduce controversy, a New York Supreme judge ordered that an auction be held to sell off the building. That October, the stockholders held an auction for 40 Wall Street, with a starting price of $17 million. Zeckendorf submitted the highest bid, at $18.15 million, although there was only one other bidder. At the time, 40 Wall Street was believed to be the most valuable real-estate property to be auctioned. In total, Webb & Knapp had spent $32 million to acquire the building; besides the amount spent toward the auction, the remainder of the cost was used to pay Chase and the Iselin estate.
Webb and Knapp sold the property to the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in April 1960 for $20 million. Metropolitan Life leased the building back to Webb and Knapp for 99 years, under a leasehold that cost $1.2 million a year. That September, Webb and Knapp sold the leasehold to British investors City & Central Investments for $15 million. The sale was finalized in November 1960, and City & Central acquired title that following month. The lower floors were no longer occupied by Chase, which had relocated to its new headquarters at 28 Liberty Street. Parts of the interior and exterior were renovated, and the Manufacturers Hanover Corporation took the unoccupied lower stories in 1961. City & Central sold the leasehold to Carl M. Loeb, Rhoades Company, 40 Wall Street's largest tenant, five years later.
1980s through early 1990s
After Loeb, Rhoades merged with Shearson in 1980, the 251,000 square feet (23,300 m2) of office space occupied by Loeb, Rhoades, was vacated. At the time, 40 Wall Street had 875 square feet (81.3 m2) that was not yet rented, and office space in the Financial District was typically rented for $16 to $20 per square foot ($170 to $220/m2). In 1982, Loeb, Rhoades sold the leasehold to a consortium of investors. The same year, the building was purchased by a group of five Germans: Anita, Christian, and Walter Hinneberg; Stephanie von Bismarck; and Joachim Ferdinand von Grumme-Douglas. The Hinneberg siblings collectively held an 80% stake in the building's ownership and the other two investors held a 10% stake each. As part of the ownership agreement, the owners were responsible for the building's upkeep to a certain standard.
The consortium resold the leasehold on December 31, 1982, to Joseph J. and Ralph E. Bernstein for $70 million. The Bernstein brothers planned to renovate 40 Wall Street, including gilding its roof. In 1985, the Bernsteins were found to be acting on behalf of Philippine president Ferdinand E. Marcos and his wife Imelda.[e] The next year, Marcos was forced out of office and his assets within U.S. banking channels were frozen, and the building's future became uncertain. Capital improvements to the building were suspended while legal proceedings were ongoing; at the time, the building was slated for several improvements, including upgrades to its unreliable elevators. A federal judge ordered a foreclosure sale of the Marcos properties in August 1989, and at the court-ordered auction, the Bernsteins submitted the winning bid of $108.9 million; a second mortgage with Citicorp comprised $60 million of this total.
The Bernstein brothers could not pay anything else other than the $1.5 million down payment for 40 Wall Street, which led to a second auction in November 1989, where Jack Resnick & Sons submitted the winning bid of $77,000,100.[f] Burton P. Resnick decided to undertake a $50 million renovation of 40 Wall Street the next year. The renovation would have included fire, electrical, and mechanical system replacement; renovation of the lobby; restoration of the facade and windows; and replacement of the elevators. The Resnicks were ultimately able to upgrade the windows.
In 1991, Citicorp canceled financing for the renovation, citing concerns that the tenants might move out, including banking tenant Manufacturers Hanover. The next year, Manufacturers Hanover moved from the lower stories. Also in 1992, the Hinneberg siblings transferred their 80% ownership stakes to 40 Wall Street Ltd., while Bismarck and Grumme-Douglas conveyed their 20% ownership stakes to Scandic Wall Ltd. Citicorp then auctioned off the building in May 1993. The Hong Kong-based consortium Kinson Properties signed a long-term lease for the property the next month, at which point 40 Wall Street was 80% vacant. Kinson planned to renovate the building for $60 million, including the lobby for $4 million and electrical and mechanical systems for $5-7 million. By the time Kinson sold the leasehold in 1995, little had been done to improve the property.
In July 1995, real estate developer (and later U.S. president) Donald Trump signed a letter of intent to lease the building and renovate it for $100 million. The leasehold was transferred that December. Though The New York Times reported at the time of the sale that Trump purchased the leasehold for $8 million, Trump has given conflicting accounts as to the actual price of 40 Wall Street. In November 1995, Trump stated he was buying the leasehold from Kinson for $100,000. During a 2005 episode of The Apprentice, Trump claimed he only paid $1 million for the leasehold, but that it was actually worth $400 million. Trump's legal advisor, George H. Ross, restated this claim in a 2005 book. On a 2007 episode of CNBC's The Billionaire Inside, Trump again claimed he paid $1 million for the leasehold, but stated the building's value as $600 million. However, in 2012, it was reported that Trump paid $10 million for the leasehold, while the building's estimated worth was $1 billion. Trump's estimate of the building's worth also conflicted with that of New York City tax assessors, who in 2004 estimated the building as being worth $90 million.
Ultimately, Trump spent $35 million on buying and refurbishing 40 Wall Street. Trump planned to convert the upper half of 40 Wall Street to residential space, leaving the bottom half as commercial space. Real-estate experts quoted in the New York Daily News said that the lowest 25 floors were extremely large, and it would not be profitable to convert them to apartments. By 1997, Trump was negotiating with hotels to occupy the lower stories of 40 Wall Street. Der Scutt Architects renovated the lobby, though the cost of converting the upper floors to residential space was ultimately too high for Trump. He tried to sell the building in 2003, expecting offers in excess of $300 million, which did not materialize. The New York Times wrote in 2004 that the building had $145 million of debt. In 2011, Duane Reade opened its flagship branch inside the former banking space.
40 Wall Street Ltd. handed its ownership stake in the building to 40 Wall Street Holdings in 2014. According to Federal Election Commission applications filed in 2015 during Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, Trump had an outstanding mortgage of over $50 million on the property. By 2016, Bloomberg News estimated that 40 Wall Street was worth $550 million. At the time, Trump paid $1.65 million a year to the building's owners as part of his lease. According to Bloomberg, several of the building's 21st-century tenants included firms that were accused of scams of fraudulent activity, or were associated with people accused of such activities. Rental income from 40 Wall Street's commercial spaces increased from $30.5 million in 2014 to $43.2 million in 2018. Forbes estimated in 2020 that Trump owed Ladder Capital $138 million for 40 Wall Street as part of a loan that was to come due in 2025.
Critical reception and landmark designations
As Fortune magazine described Ohrstrom in 1930, "His piece de resistance thus far has been the shrewd and able financing of the Manhattan Company Building." Two years later, W. Parker Chase wrote that "no building ever constructed more thoroughly typifies the American spirit of hustle than does this extraordinary structure". In 1960, when 28 Liberty Street was being built, Architectural Forum wrote of 40 Wall Street: "Viewed from the street, the detailing of the top of this middle-aged tower becomes insignificant, but it can be said that the draftsmen in the Severance office, who spent many painstaking hours perfecting the ornamental peak more than three decades ago, have been justified at last." Not all criticism was positive. Architecture critic Robert A. M. Stern wrote in his 1987 book New York 1930 that 40 Wall Street's proximity to other skyscrapers including 70 Pine Street, 20 Exchange Place, 1 Wall Street, and the Downtown Athletic Club "had reduced the previous generation of skyscrapers to the status of foothills in a new mountain range".
On December 12, 1995, the building was designated a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, which noted it as historically significant for being the headquarters of the Manhattan Company and for being part of New York City's 1929–1930 skyscraper race. Five years later, on June 16, 2000, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places, largely for the same reason as the city designation. In 2007, the building was designated as a contributing property to the Wall Street Historic District, a NRHP district.
- List of tallest buildings in New York City
- List of tallest freestanding steel structures
- List of New York City Designated Landmarks in Manhattan below 14th Street
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Manhattan below 14th Street
- Overseas landholdings of the Marcos family
- According to the New York City Department of City Planning, the building contains 63 stories.
- Other towers that contain pyramidal roofs include the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower, 14 Wall Street, Woolworth Building, Consolidated Edison Building, and Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse.
- This distinction excludes structures that were not fully habitable, such as the Eiffel Tower.
- These proposals included the 100-story Metropolitan Life North Building; a 1,050-foot (320 m) tower built by Abraham E. Lefcourt at Broadway and 49th Street; a 100-story tower developed by the Fred F. French Company on Sixth Avenue between 43rd and 44th streets; an 85-story tower to be developed on the site of the Belmont Hotel near Grand Central Terminal; and the Noyes-Schulte Company's proposed tower on Broadway between Duane and Worth streets. Only one of these projects was even partially completed: the base of the Metropolitan Life North Building.
- Marcos was also found to have purchased several other New York City buildings; see Overseas landholdings of the Marcos family. In coded cables between the Marcos Family and their alleged "front" in Manhattan, Gliceria Tantoco, the 40 Wall Street building was referred to using the secret code-word "Bridgetown."
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no plane has accidentally hit a skyscraper since the Empire State and Wall Street catastrophes
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