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110 East 42nd Street

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

110 East 42nd Street
110 E42 jeh.JPG
Alternative namesBowery Savings Bank Building
General information
Architectural styleItalian Romanesque Revival style
Location110 East 42nd Street, Murray Hill, Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Coordinates40°45′06″N 73°58′37″W / 40.75167°N 73.97694°W / 40.75167; -73.97694
Construction started1921
OwnerSL Green
Architectural237 ft (72 m)
Roof237 ft (72 m)
Technical details
Floor count18
Design and construction
Architecture firmYork and Sawyer
DeveloperBowery Savings Bank
Main contractor
DesignatedSeptember 17, 1996
Reference no.1912
110 East 42nd Street at Emporis

110 East 42nd Street, also known as the Bowery Savings Bank Building, is an 18-story office building in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. It is located on the south side of 42nd Street, across from Grand Central Terminal to the north, and between the Pershing Square Building to the west and the Chanin Building to the east. The building is named for the Bowery Savings Bank, who had built 110 East 42nd Street as its new branch building.

110 East 42nd Street was designed in the Italian Romanesque Revival style by York and Sawyer, with William Louis Ayres as the partner in charge. It was erected within "Terminal City", a collection of buildings located above Grand Central's underground tracks, and makes use of real-estate air rights above the tracks. The building is located right above the New York City Subway's Grand Central–42nd Street station.

110 East 42nd Street, as well as the adjacent Pershing Square Building, were built on the site of the Grand Union Hotel. Construction started in 1921 and was completed in 1923, and an addition was added between 1931 and 1933. The Bowery Savings Bank Building continues to be used as a bank and office building, and in 1996 it was made a New York City designated landmark.



The completion of the underground Grand Central Terminal in 1913 resulted in the rapid development of the areas around Grand Central, and a corresponding increase in real-estate prices.[1] Among these were the New York Central Building, built at 47th Street and Park Avenue, as well as the Grand Central Palace across 42nd Street from the present Bowery Savings Bank Building.[2] By 1920, the area had become what The New York Times called "a great civic centre".[3]

In 1913, the Dual Contracts was signed by the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) and the Brooklyn–Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT), two companies who operated parts of the present New York City Subway.[4] A set of platforms at Grand Central, now serving the IRT Lexington Avenue Line (4, ​5, ​6, and <6> trains), was to be built diagonally under the building site as part of the agreement.[5][6] At the time, the site under the proposed station was occupied by Grand Union Hotel, which was condemned via eminent domain in February 1914.[7] The condemnation proceedings for the hotel cost $3.5 million, then a very high sum.[8] To pay the station's construction cost, the Public Service Commission approved the construction of a 25-story building above the station.[9] By May 1915, the building site had been excavated for the construction of the building.[6] Despite the passage of the 1916 Zoning Resolution, which required architectural setbacks to provide light to the streets below, the building plans conformed with the older zoning codes, which did not require setbacks.[5]

Though the IRT Lexington Avenue Line's 42nd Street station opened in 1918,[10] the site above the station was not developed as planned.[11] The Transit Commission attempted to sell the building site in May 1920 for $2.8 million,[12] but no one placed a bid.[13][14] Then in July 1920, a realty consortium headed by investor Henry Mandel[a] offered $2.9 million for the hotel, a proposal that was accepted.[16][17] The value of the land at the future building site was extremely valuable; by 1923, the Rider's Guide to New York City referred to the blocks of East 42nd Street between Park and Fifth Avenues as "Little Wall Street".[18]

Planning and construction

The Bowery Savings Bank, then located at the Bowery and Grand Street in lower Manhattan, was among the parties who were seeking to add an uptown location, and in September 1920 its trustees unanimously agreed to look for an uptown site. The trustees soon found a site on 42nd Street, but a standalone bank building could not be built there, as it was deemed too costly.[19] As such, the bank trustees created a building committee to start planning for the building in December 1920.[20]

110 East 42nd Street (left) and the Pershing Square Building (right) share what was believed to be New York City's tallest party wall[21]
110 East 42nd Street (left) and the Pershing Square Building (right) share what was believed to be New York City's tallest party wall[21]

In January 1921, Mandel gave the Bowery Savings Bank the eastern half of the Grand Union Hotel site, which would be developed into an office building called 110 East 42nd Street.[11] As per the purchase agreement between the bank and the corporation, the structures were to contain interlocking structures,[22] including what was believed to be the city's tallest party wall separating two buildings.[21] York and Sawyer, designers of several bank buildings in the eastern United States, had been hired to devise plans for the new Savings Bank at the site of the Grand Union Hotel. The lead architect on the project was William Louis Ayres.[20] The plans were filed with the New York City Department of Buildings in April 1921.[23] Excavations had started in February 1921 in advance of the plans' approval,[20] and that June, the building committee recommended to start construction immediately.[24] Construction on the building officially commenced that July with a groundbreaking ceremony.[25]

By the time the new branch opened in 1923, there were 155,000 people with accounts at the Bowery Savings Bank.[26] The bank had had seen $1.5 million in deposits "on one day recently", compared to the $2,020 deposited on the original branch's opening day in 1834.[27] Just prior to 110 East 42nd's opening in June 1923, $202 million of deposits held by the Bowery Savings Bank was moved from the original branch to the new branch, using 14 armored cars guarded by 100 heavily armed policemen.[28][27] However, the bank retained its original offices on Bowery.[26][29] Upon the opening of 110 East 42nd, the branch had total deposits of $177 million.[30] There were 2,500 new accounts opened at the 110 East 42nd branch on the first day in office, and 33,803 new accounts in the nine months afterward,[2] with total deposits at the 110 East 42nd branch increasing by $25 million in that time period.[30] The presence of the new Bowery Savings Bank branch and the presence of brokerage firms on 42nd Street bolstered its reputation as a "Little Wall Street".[31]

Some alterations were made to the main building in 1927, including the installation of a clock, bronze display cases, and revolving doors outside the 42nd Street entrance.[32] A six-story addition to the east, which came to be called "The Chapel",[33] was proposed in March 1931.[34] Louis Ayres designed the addition while Marc Eidlitz & Son, Inc. erected the structure.[24][35] The Chapel annex was completed by 1933.[34]

Later use

Office tower entrance, subway stairs to the right
Office tower entrance, subway stairs to the right

The fifth floor facade's marble colonettes were replaced with granite ones in 1951, and the annex's windows and entrance were redesigned in 1956.[32] A plaque was erected outside the Bowery Savings Bank Building in 1957, designating it as a point of interest and an unofficial "landmark".[36] The screen above the 42nd Street archway were replaced with a glass window in 1962.[32]

A year after the Bowery Savings Bank was acquired by H. F. Ahmanson & Co. in 1991, the building's ownership was jointly transferred to Ahmanson and a limited partnership, who owned the building as a condominium. Greenpoint Bank took over the banking spaces in 1995,[32] after having bought many of Ahmanson's branches.[37] The building was designated an official New York City landmark in 1996.[38] SL Green bought the building in March 1998[39][40] and subsequently renovated the lobby as well as replaced the elevators.[41] The ground-floor banking room was converted to a Cipriani restaurant and upscale event space,[42] with Cipriani finalizing the deal for the new location in January 1999.[43] At the same time, with the renovation and revival of Grand Central in the late 1990s, large tenants began occupying 110 East 42nd's office space.[44]

The areas immediately surrounding Grand Central, including 110 East 42nd, had 1,800,000 square feet (170,000 m2) of air rights above the terminal and its rail yards. This allowed for the construction of developments with that maximum floor area above Grand Central.[45] In 2014, some of 110 East 42nd's unused air rights were passed to One Vanderbilt, a 1,401-foot-tall (427 m) skyscraper being built a block to the west.[46][47]


The building was designed in the Italian Romanesque Revival style by the firm of York & Sawyer.[24][34] The design shares many elements with the Pershing Square Building building directly to the west, which was also co-designed by York & Sawyer.[48]


York and Sawyer's original plans for 110 East 42nd Street called for a four-story-tall banking room, topped by thirteen office floors, to extend the width of the block between 41st and 42nd Streets. A hip-roofed penthouse on top of the office floors would bring the building's height to 18 floors.[24] The building has a frontage of 104 feet (32 m) on 42nd Street and extends 198 feet (60 m) to the back of the lot at 41st Street.[49][50]

As it was not a freestanding structure, 110 East 42nd Street deviated from traditional bank building designs, including that of the original main branch at Bowery and Grand Street.[51] Most significantly, it did not resemble a "modified Greek temple" as earlier bank buildings had.[52] The building was instead designed in the Italian Romanesque Revival style, The Italian Romanesque design provided consistency to the facade, since the Pershing Square Building to the west was designed in a similar manner.[24] York & Sawyer's ultimate design emphasized the juxtaposition of office and banking concerns in the building, which are stacked one above the other.[53]


The 42nd Street archway, showing the large window above the doorway. The architrave runs below the top of the arch.
The 42nd Street archway, showing the large window above the doorway. The architrave runs below the top of the arch.

The facade is divided into three vertical sections: the base, tower, and upper stories. The facade contains elements such as arcades, and cornices with corbelling. A variety of materials and colors are used for the building's individual elements, including colonettes made of pink granite; spandrels made of green marble; and a roof with red tiling.[24] The facade elements are also decorated with representations of figures such as "birds, beasts, fantastic mythological creatures [and] human forms".[54]

The 42nd Street facade is largely made of Ohio sandstone.[24][49] On the 42nd Street side, there are also columns and colonettes made of pink granite; tiled wall copings; and spandrels made of green marble.[24] The 41st Street facade is made of sandstone on the first floor, and buff-colored bonded brick above it. At the bottom of both facades is a water table made of granite, which is 3 feet (0.91 m) higher on the eastern part of the building, due to the area's topography sloping downward to the east.[53]


On the four-story base facing 42nd Street to the north, there is a large round-arched entrance taking up most of the facade, with detailed archivolts running on the underside of the archway. The large ground-floor arch leads to the giant banking room inside. A short flight of stairs leads to a set of doors, above which is a large window that fills the rest of the arch opening.[53][55] There are voussoirs running along the top of the arch, with a carved motif located within every other voissoir. A pair of rose windows, small circular apertures, are located at the fourth floor flanking the top of the arch. An architectural arcade with arched openings runs along the fifth floor facade.[53]

To the west of the main archway (on the right side as seen from 42nd Street), a small arch provides access to the office tower's entrance vestibule, the elevator lobby, and the New York City Subway's Grand Central–42nd Street station.[24] The entrance contains a semicircular tympanum above the doorway, with a geometric pattern, as well as embossed surrounds on either side of the doorway. The words "The Bowery Savings Bank Building" are inscribed on top of the tympanum, and the building's address is fully spelled out on the bottom of the tympanum. Above this archway are two pairs of windows, one each at the third and fourth floors. The third floor includes two rectangular windows and the fourth floor contains two arched grilles in place of window openings.[53]

To the east (left) is the six-story "Chapel" annex completed in 1933. The lower two floors contain a three-arched arcade with two granite columns. The rectangular third-floor windows and arched fourth-floor windows are similar to those on the west side of the facade. Above the first- and second-floor arcade, there are four carved motifs, located at even intervals, as well as an inscription "A Mutual Institution Chartered 1834 To Serve Those Who Save". There is an architectural arcade running across the 5th story facade.[53]

The facade of the base on 41st Street, to the south, is similar in that it also contains a large archivolted arch with a set of doors below a large window. However, the doors on the 41st Street facade are located in a three-faced structure that projects slightly.[53][55] Flanking the arch are three architectural bays, two to the west (left) and one to the east (right) of the arch. These bays each contain two rectangular windows on the second floor, two arched windows on the third floor, and a rose window on the fourth floor. A driveway leading to an underground parking garage is located on the first floor underneath the leftmost bay.[53]


On the 42nd Street side above the four-story base, the 5th through 13th floors are articulated with vertical piers and window spandrels. The piers divide the facade into five architectural bays: four bays above the main banking entrance in the center, and one bay above the office-building entrance on the west (right) side. Each bay contains two windows on each floor.[53] Horizontal cornices with corbeling are located above the 14th and 17th floors. There is an architectural arcade running across the 5th story facade, as well as another arcade running across the 15th and 16th stories. The 17th story contains round-arched window openings while the 18th story consists of four windows that each contain three panes.[53] On the 17th floor, at the top of 110 East 42nd Street's tower section, are tiled copings.[24] At the 42nd Street facade, a flagpole extends from the center of the tower section at the fifth floor, directly above the center of the archway.[53]

On the 41st Street side, the facade rises nine stories from ground level, with a cornice at the top of this section.[53] Above the ninth floor, the building contains a 22-foot (6.7 m) setback, and the tower rises behind this setback to the 17th story. The 41st Street side is also articulated with vertical piers and window spandrels. It also contains five architectural bays, with each bay containing two windows per floor.[32]


Interior vault
Interior vault

The first floor consists of three sections: an elevator vestibule on the west, a banking room on the center, and the smaller "Chapel" section to the east.[56] The massive first-floor banking room measures 80 feet (24 m) wide and 197.5 feet (60.2 m) long with a 65-foot-tall (20 m) ceiling.[34][57] It was described by The New York Times as one of the largest banking rooms in a New York City bank.[49] The banking room utilizes marble, limestone, sandstone and bronze screens to create a space reminiscent of a basilica.[34] The annex and banking rooms use a mixture of materials on the walls and columns:[58] according to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, these include ashlar as well as "marble, limestone, sandstone, imitation stone, and plaster".[57] Various other motifs also adorn the walls, ceiling, and columns.[58]

The banking room can be entered from five places: the main 41st and 42nd Street archways to the south and north, respectively; an entrance to the office building's vestibule to the northeast; and two doorways leading to the passenger- and freight-elevator lobbies to the west.[55] The marble tellers' counter, 50 inches (1,300 mm) high, is in the middle of the banking room. The floor is made of marble tile patterns, and a wooden staircase at the northeastern corner of the banking room leads to the basement.[55] The ceiling above the banking room is supported by steel trusses that run across the vault. Six major trusses run perpendicular to the walls and are supported by twelve corbels, while smaller trusses run diagonally between alternating corbels. The ceiling is coated with six layers of materials, giving it the appearance of "minor wooden beams and coffering".[33] Six chandeliers hang from the ceiling at the locations where the diagonal trusses cross each other.[33]

The "Chapel" annex is located to the east of the banking room's northern section, connected via two large rectangular openings cut through the party wall on the eastern side of the banking room. The design is similar to that of the banking room, with limestone and sandstone walls. A second floor loggia overlooks the northern end of the annex's first floor, and below that is a set of double doors leading to the central arch of the arcade along 42nd Street.[33] Two chandeliers and a painted rhombus pattern are located on the flat ceiling, while a patterned frieze runs near the top of the wall.[59]

The space to the west of the main banking room measures 20 feet (6.1 m) wide and 197.5 feet long. It includes an entrance vestibule, as well as a lobby containing passenger and freight elevators.[24][59] The vestibule, located to the north and facing 42nd Street, includes a staircase to the subway along its western side, and contains a ceiling with three vaults. To the south is the elevator lobby, which contains decorative floor tiling and six painted ceiling vaults, similar in design to the main banking room. The elevator doors contain bronze panels with various embossed motifs.[59]

Critical reception

The fifth edition of the AIA Guide to New York City referred to 110 East 42nd Street as "one of the great spaces of New York."[60] According to a 1928 piece in Architectural Forum magazine, the building was “a castle in the clouds brought to earth, and the ticket of admission is only a stiff little deposit book.”[61] A 1986 article in the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail said that the Bowery Savings Bank Building, "flaunts the power of New York money. Stupendously lavish, marbled and pillared and bronzed and tiled, it still has elegant Art Deco banking tables where you can write out cheques with an Art Deco ballpoint."[62]



  1. ^ Mandel was later known for constructing other projects such as the London Terrace apartment complex in Chelsea, Manhattan[15]


  1. ^ Fitch, James Marston; Waite, Diana S. (1974). Grand Central Terminal and Rockefeller Center: A Historic-critical Estimate of Their Significance. Albany, New York: The Division. p. 6.
  2. ^ a b Landmarks Preservation Commission 2016, p. 5.
  3. ^ "Another Building For Terminal Zone; 12-Story Commercial Structure to be Erected Opposite the Commodore Hotel". The New York Times. September 14, 1920. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 17, 2019.
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  5. ^ a b Landmarks Preservation Commission 2016, p. 6.
  6. ^ a b "Miracles Done In New Subway; Trying Problems Confronting Engineers in Cutting Out the Bone and Sinews of Underground New York". The New York Times. May 16, 1915. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 19, 2019.
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  16. ^ "Bids $2,900,000 Ffor Grand Union Sire; Henry Mandel Offers Upset City Price for Valuable Pershing Square Plot". The New York Times. July 21, 1920. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 20, 2019.
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  19. ^ Landmarks Preservation Commission 1996, p. 2.
  20. ^ a b c Landmarks Preservation Commission 1996, p. 3.
  21. ^ a b Landmarks Preservation Commission 2016, p. 2.
  22. ^ Landmarks Preservation Commission 2016, p. 8.
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  27. ^ a b "Bowery Savings Opens New Home". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. June 22, 1923. p. 22. Retrieved October 28, 2019 – via Brooklyn Public Library; open access.
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  31. ^ "'Little Wall St' In Midtown Zone; Forty-one Branch Brokerage Offices Opened in Grand Central Area. SERVE LARGE CLIENTELE Elaborately Equipped Uptown Branches Maintained by Many Members of Stock Exchange". The New York Times. March 17, 1929. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
  32. ^ a b c d e Landmarks Preservation Commission 1996, p. 6.
  33. ^ a b c d Landmarks Preservation Commission Interior 1996, p. 6.
  34. ^ a b c d e New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission; Dolkart, Andrew S.; Postal, Matthew A. (2009). Postal, Matthew A. (ed.). Guide to New York City Landmarks (4th ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons. p. 107. ISBN 978-0-470-28963-1.
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  36. ^ Asbury, Edith Evans (November 22, 1957). "Landmark Signs Dedicated Here; 20 Are first of Many That Will Mark Historical and Architectural Sites". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
  37. ^ Hansell, Saul (May 16, 1995). "Company News; Greenpoint to Pay $660 Million For 60 Home Savings Branches". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 30, 2019.
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  41. ^ McDowell, Edwin (February 13, 2000). "Around Grand Central, New Office Towers And a 54-Floor Residence". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
  42. ^ Dunlap, David W. (October 29, 1998). "Catering Hall Planned in Landmark Midtown Bank". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
  43. ^ Huhn, Mary (February 22, 1999). "Cipriani's Saying 'See Ya' To Wall St. Site". New York Post. Retrieved October 30, 2019.
  44. ^ "Even older buildings boom in Manhattan". South China Morning Post. Hong Kong. July 16, 1997. p. 7. Retrieved October 30, 2019 – via ProQuest.
  45. ^ Oser, Alan S. (June 12, 1988). "Perspectives: Grand Central Terminal; Air Rights in Search of a Place to Alight". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 28, 2019.
  46. ^ Chaban, Matt A. (October 16, 2016). "Future Neighbor Will Tower Over Grand Central, but Allow It to Shine". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  47. ^ Cuozzo, Steve (June 2, 2014). "1 Vanderbilt: High on Grand Central - New York Post". New York Post. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
  48. ^ Landmarks Preservation Commission 2016, pp. 1–2.
  49. ^ a b c "New Bank Building; Branch of Bowery Savings Bank on East Forty-Second Street". The New York Times. March 12, 1922. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 28, 2019.
  50. ^ "Fifty-Acre Gift of John D. Rockefeller to People Scene of One of Country's First Fights for Liberty". New-York Tribune. June 24, 1917. p. 10. Retrieved September 23, 2019 – via open access.
  51. ^ "New Bank Construction". Savings Bank Journal. National Association of Mutual Savings Banks of the United States. 5: 93. July 1924.
  52. ^ "New Bowery Branch Opens". Savings Bank Journal. National Association of Mutual Savings Banks of the United States. 4: 472. July 1923.
  53. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Landmarks Preservation Commission 1996, p. 5.
  54. ^ Landmarks Preservation Commission 1996, p. 8.
  55. ^ a b c d Landmarks Preservation Commission Interior 1996, p. 5.
  56. ^ For a diagram of the floor layout, see Landmarks Preservation Commission Interior 1996, p. 39.
  57. ^ a b Landmarks Preservation Commission Interior 1996, p. 4.
  58. ^ a b Landmarks Preservation Commission Interior 1996, pp. 4, 6.
  59. ^ a b c Landmarks Preservation Commission Interior 1996, p. 7.
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