I have always been interested in obtaining information on the background of the building that was formerly known as 60 Wall Tower - it's history and construction and it's significance, if any, to skyscraper lore. I know it had to be one of the more formidable structures in its day, but I've never been able to obtain specific info. regarding this matter. Any clues?
The Sixty Wall Tower A.K.A. Cities Service Building, is now the
American International Building.
Built by Henry L. Doherty (the man who put Cities Service
together) it was the HQ for the corporation for years. It is one of the few NY
buildings that was buiult and owned by a single identifiable corporation as opposed
to a syndicate of investors. The building was completed in 1932 and. although
950' tall, was never a participant in the great "skyrace" of 1929. Designed by
Clinton & Russell and Holton & George, it was one of the first, if not the first,
building with double-decked elevators - they were removed later, and is a splendid
example of the Art Deco skyscraper - and the last example at that.
Cities Service, when the buuilding was built, was a giant utility and gasoline company. In 1935, the U.S. Government passed the Utility Company Holding Act which broke up companies like Cities Service. They had to choose between electric utilities or gasoline - they chose gasoline eventually becoming CITGO. The break up of the company made much of the building unnecessary for Cities Service and they rented it out to others. However, Cities Service owned the building well into the 1970's. I have an original rental brochure for the building that shows much of the building. It also was never on Wall Street but had a passageway from the building to Wall Street to get the Sixty in their name. This web site has several of my photos of the building including a most unique feature, a stone model of the building that has aged just like the real building has. There used to be an observatory at the top - I was there once, it had interesting aluminum railings - but it is no longer! in operation. I will e-mail an image of the original building logo (from the rental brochure) separately.
My very first job was in 70 Pine Street and I was in awe of its beauty. I thought the elevators were somewhat overwhelming, zooming up to the 44th floor where I worked for a steel fabricating company, The John Wood Company. We could occasionally hear the building creak on a windy day and at that time you could open all the windows though they all had slanted vents to prevent gale force winds from coming through. I had a friend who work for a short while for the CEO's office of cities Service and we went up to see the private office/apartment of the CEO. All I remember was a deep, deep carpet in a board room and a bathroom that was so impressive. I recall a large black marble tub with gold fixtures in the bathroom. And wonderful views! I was impressed on the 44th floor but from the penthouse it was simply magnificent! Years later realized the elevators were probably a bit pokey after riding the swift elevators in the World Trade Center to Windows on the World. They were frightening! I would love to go back to the building to take a look around, I see they still have the florist shop in the lobby and wonder about the drug store and restaurant.
I've been to the top of 70 Pine recently (no, it's not open to the public). It's absolutely beautiful. I heard it's the only 360 degree unobstructed view in Manhattan. A very small elevator takes you to the top and then disappears back into the floor. It's only about 25-30 square, has beautiful marble floors, an art-deco feel with silver colored trim everywhere, including the railings on the thin balconies. How I'd love to have the job of the guy who waters the plants up there. It's still used by the higher-ups. Other tidbits, where the 60 Wall bridge used to be the new bricks are visible, though they are not visible from street level. It's the 5th window in from the west on the 15 floor. Also, the zip code of the 70 Pine building is 10270. I heard it stands for AIG's building addresses, 102 (something street - maybe an old address) and 70 Pine st.
I worked at 70 Pine in the 1960s. At that time, Merrill Lynch had a number of floors, 1-10, 18&19, 29. and a few others. I worked in the prospectus dept. We kept our backstock in the basement, maybe three floors deep. ?Walls there were bedrock. Afterhours, you had to ring for special elevator service to take you up and down to the basement. There were escalators from floors 1-6. I'm not sure, but there may been elevator operators at that time. The offices were very narrow on the upper floors. They ran on the edge of the building, with very little interior space. One room wide. My last floor there was 49, which had spectacular unobstructed views of Manhattan. North side of the building must still have. South side is obstructed by a new tower on Wall St. I'm not even sure there were offices on both sides of the highest floors. And I'm not sure there were bathrooms on every floor near the top. Finally, the building creaked a great deal. Sounded like a ship. It is a shame you can't get tours inside.
You will find invauable images of this building, photos, blueprints in the book 'Skyscraper Rivals' by daniel Abramson (still in print) The book details the evolution of this building. Another book that has several interesting photos is 'Wall Street - A ' by Levinson... this is old and out of print but still avaiable at some bookstores.