The design of the Woolworth Building was influenced by many different styles. The building possessed a Tudor Gothic portal and lobby-arcade decorated with Early Christian, Byzantine, and Gothic motifs. The headquarters for the company on the twenty-fourth floor was designed in the French Empire style with an Italian Renaissance private office and apartment for Woolworth in the tower.
Cass Gilbert also designed a Pompeiian pool for the building, which was never fully realized. Today the pool and hot tub are boarded up, as seen on our last Untapped Cities exclusive tour of the Woolworth Building but here’s a renderings of what it might have been and vintage photos of the pool in construction and in once.
According to the New York Times, the pool was to be “large swimming tank in the basement lined with marble” and was a novel tenant amenity. Other unique amenities included a barber shop, restaurant, and Hospital Room (“for female stenographers, clerks and others, where they may receive first-aid treatment and simple remedies at the hands of a competent nurse”).
Source: The New York Times
Another contemporary brochure described an “immense Swimming Pool and Turkish Bath establishment, open day and night,” equipped with “every modern device making for comfort, safety and sanitation.”
The vision for the Woolworth Building pool. Source: New-York Historical Society
Pool in construction. Source: New-York Historical Society
The pool never received it’s Pompeiian decorations and remained a plain white room. Still, it was enjoyed by the building’s tenants, especially in the early twentieth century when the building was not air conditioned, eventually becoming a Jack LaLane Fitness club.
Source: New-York Historical Society
Since it was drained in 1999 it has been essentially closed off to the public awaiting its fate. There are plans to renovate the pool along with part of the building that will be turned into condos.
Untapped Cities hosts a monthly tour of the Woolworth Building, led by architect Cass Gilbert’s great grand daughter, Helen Post Curry: Buy tickets: