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Woolworth Building-Downtown Manhattan-Untapped Cities-Ben Helmer-5131

On our recent Untapped Cities exclusive tour of the Woolworth Building, preservationist Lisa Swyers along with Roy Suskin of The Witkoff Group took us to some truly off-limits spots in the already off-limits building. We went down into the bowels to see the mechanical rooms that support the 57 story building, we saw the famous pool, and we went up to the mezzanine. Aside from the unprecedented access, we learned from our guides some wild facts about the building. It’s our third visit there, and we keep learning new things each time. Here are 10 secrets to whet your appetite for our next Woolworth Building Tour.

10. Woolworth Building Superlatives—Fastest Elevators and Tallest Chimney

Woolworth Building-Downtown Manhattan-Untapped Cities-Ben Helmer-5134

The Woolworth Building used to be powered by coal burners and you can see the enormous undertaking in vintage photographs. At the time of construction, the Woolworth had the tallest chimney in the world. During the course of the building’s renovations, the chimney, which mirrored the height of the building, was demolished and new elevators are being erected in its place. The elevators are going to serve the tower’s tenants.  The Woolworth also had the fastest elevators in the world when it opened. The elevator shaft is tapered so that, in the event of a free fall, air cushions will prevent the elevator car from gathering too much speed and plummeting to its doom. Apparently, when the Woolworth was built in 1913, they tested the system by allowing each elevator car to fall.

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