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Adams Express Building

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Adams Express Building
Adams Express Company Building, New York City.jpg
A 1914 postcard featuring the Adams Express Co. Building
General information
Architectural stylePalazzo[1]
LocationFinancial District, Manhattan
Address61 Broadway
Town or cityNew York City
Coordinates40°42′25″N 74°00′46″W / 40.70694°N 74.01278°W / 40.70694; -74.01278
Construction started1912
OwnerRXR Realty
Height443 ft (135.0 m)[3]
Technical details
Structural systemSteel
MaterialTerracotta facade
Floor count32
Floor area670,000 sq ft (62,245 m2)[4]
Design and construction
ArchitectFrancis H. Kimball
Main contractorRobert E. Dowling

The Adams Express Building is an office building at 61 Broadway in the Financial District of Manhattan, New York City. The building's primary frontage is on 57-61 Broadway, with additional frontage along 33–41 Trinity Place. Architect Francis Kimball designed the 32–story building for the Adams Express Company.

Construction began in 1912 at which point the cost was estimated at $2,000,000 (equivalent to $53,634,483 in 2020).[5] Upon completion in 1914, the building was the seventh tallest structure in Manhattan. As of 2014 it is owned by RXR Realty.[6]


The building contains 3,300 tons of steel and over a million square feet of architectural terracotta. The New York Times described the architectural style as "Florentine" below the fifth floor, and "severely simple" above.[7] Another critic called the style "utterly utilitarian,"[3] but the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission identified the architecture as palazzo.[1]

An entrance was constructed to the New York City Subway's Wall Street station, underneath Broadway, but was later closed.[8]



Seen from the southwest
Seen from the southwest

The Adams Express Company occupied part of the Pinkerton Building at 57-59 Broadway. In 1903, there was discussion of combining 57-61 Broadway with an adjacent property occupied by American Express and Wells Fargo, and building one large building for the three companies.[9] This did not happen, and American Express's adjacent building at 65 Broadway was completed in 1917.[10]

A 1904 fire that began in the basement of the Morris Building at 63 Broadway, damaged the Pinkerton and other buildings on the block. Twenty-four engines and six hook and ladder companies responded.[11] The Fire Department of New York recorded that the Adams Express Company building was destroyed,[12] but Adams Express continued to occupy the site. By 1906, Adams Express was planning a new, fireproof building to be constructed on the site of the Pinkerton Building.[13]


In 1910 Industrial World Magazine reported that Adams Express was proceeding with a 10-story, brick and limestone building designed by George K. Hooper of Hooper-Faulkenau Engineering Company.[4] Then in 1911, Adams Express finally purchased the Pinkerton Building.[14] Although Hooper's plans would have blended with existing buildings in the Financial District where, in 1912, nearly half of the buildings were five stories or lower,[2] the Hooper design was never constructed, as it was apparently too small. Instead, in 1912, Francis Kimball was hired to build a 32-story structure.[15]

When construction began in 1912 on the Kimball design, first The New York Times and later city planners became concerned about sunlight and airspace.[4] The Adams Express Building was one of a growing number of behemoths, most notably the then-under-construction Equitable Building,[16] that cast shadows not only on the street but on nearby smaller buildings and drove down real estate value, rent, and tax revenues. F.W. Fitzpatrick complained that the Adams Express Building cast an 875-foot shadow.[17] The 1916 Zoning Resolution provided a remedy in the form of setbacks where new buildings would be stepped back at certain heights depending on the width at the street. The restrictions would have applied to 75% of the ground area of the building, but construction of the Adams Express Building had occurred before the new zoning restrictions were adopted.

Later history

The building sustained heavy damage in 1916 when 300 windows were blown out in the Black Tom explosion.[4]

When the building was purchased by Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in 1988, an engineer discovered goldfish living in a pool of water below the basement heating system. Since that time, building engineers have fed the fish as a part of their regular maintenance routine. [4]


  1. ^ a b "Cunard Building" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. September 19, 1995. p. 7. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  2. ^ a b Landau, Sarah; Condit, Carl W. (1996). Rise of the New York Skyscraper, 1865–1913. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. p. 395. ISBN 978-0-300-07739-1. OCLC 32819286.
  3. ^ a b "Adams Express Company Building". The Woolworth Building @100. The Skyscraper Museum. Retrieved August 11, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d e "The 1914 Adams Express Buildling -- 61 Broadway". Daytonian in Manhattan. September 22, 2011. Retrieved August 11, 2014.
  5. ^ Office for Metropolitan History, "Manhattan NB Database 1900-1986," Archived February 15, 2013, at the Wayback Machine (February 7, 2010)
  6. ^ "Historic downtown tower fetches $330M". Crain's New York Business. Retrieved April 6, 2015.
  7. ^ "The Real Estate Field; West Side Apartment in Trade for Bronx Property -- Deal in Chelsea Section -- Adams Express Building Plans -- Buys Seven Great Neck Plots for Improvement". The New York Times. October 15, 1912. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 13, 2020.
  8. ^ District, New York (State) Public Service Commission First (1916). Proceedings. The Commission. p. 529.
  9. ^ "Broadway Realty Deal; American Express Company Buys Harmony Estate Property. Price for 63 and 65 to be About $2,350,- 000 -- American and Adams Companies May Erect Joint Building". The New York Times. November 27, 1902. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  10. ^ "American Express Company Building" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. December 12, 1995. p. 1. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  11. ^ "Big Fire in New York: Downtown District Threatened with Destruction". Geneva Daily Times. Geneva, New York: Geneva Printing Co. March 26, 1904. p. 1. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
  12. ^ Boucher, Mike. "What Happened on This Day". The Month of March. The Unofficial Home Page of FDNY. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
  13. ^ "New York City Notes", The Express Gazette, 31 (1): 26, January 15, 1906 [1873]
  14. ^ "The Real Estate Field; Adams Express Company Buys 57 Broadway". The New York Times. May 24, 1911. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 13, 2020.
  15. ^ "Latest Dealings in Realty Field; Thirty-two-Story Structure to be Erected on Old Adams Express Co. Site". The New York Times. April 21, 1912. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 13, 2020.
  16. ^ Nash, Eric Peter (2010). Manhattan skyscrapers. McGrath, Norman. (3rd ed.). New York: Princeton Architectural Press. p. 25. ISBN 978-1-56898-967-9. OCLC 542321843.
  17. ^ Fitzpatrick, Francis (December 1919). "Cutting Steps in the Skyscraper". Popular Science. 95 (5): 52. Retrieved August 20, 2014.

External links

This page was last edited on 30 March 2021, at 18:29
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