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Woolworth Building Construction Site-NYCWoolworth Building under construction. Image via Library of Congress

The construction of the Woolworth Building, once one of the tallest buildings in the world, was such a feat that there is a wealth of vintage photographs documenting the building process. The Museum of the City of New York has so many images, it takes pages and pages to go through the construction photographs. While today, most admire the Woolworth Building for its neo-Gothic exterior built atop a steel frame, many of the technological marvels were hidden in multiple levels of basements.

Here, we’re sharing with you some of those impressive images and on August 12th, you can join our exclusive tour of the Woolworth Building which will take you down the three cellar levels of the landmarked building, as well as a guided walk through the stunning lobby. You’ll get a complete picture of the engineering feat and aesthetic masterpiece that the Woolworth Building is.

The Pneumatic Caisson Foundations

Woolworth Building-NYC-Caisson, Air Pressure Station [Construction zone.]A caisson air pressure station at the Woolworth Building construction site. Image via MCNY

To build on the mud site, Woolworth had to sink 69 pneumatic caissons to 100 to 120 feet below grade for the foundations. Caissons are watertight chambers used also in the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. Then, an attempt was made to drill through the foundations for a fresh water source.

Woolworth Building NYC Model of FoundationModel of the Woolworth Building foundations. Image via MCNY

After drilling over 1,500 feet, the drill still had not exited the Manhattan schist, Manhattan’s bedrock. The secondary source of water sought was never found. It is the deepest anyone has ever attempted to drill through the bedrock and it is still used as the minimum depth that the schist reaches.

The Engine Room and Pump Room

  Woolworth Building NYC Engine Room-2Engine Room of the Woolworth Building. Image via MCNY

The original Woolworth Building was intended to be self-sufficient–with boiler room and engine room that once powered and lighted the building.

Woolworth Building NYC Engine Room Electrical Switchboard-4Electrical Switchboard of The Woolworth Building. Image via MCNY  

Woolworth Building Model NYC-Engine Room-5Model of the Woolworth Building Engine Room  

Woolworth Building NYC Pump RoomThe Pump Room of the Woolworth Building  

The Boiler Room

Woolworth Building-NYC-Boiler Room-2Woolworth Building Boiler Room. Image via MCNY

Woolworth Building-NYC-Boiler RoomWoolworth Building Boiler Room Under Construction

Our exclusive tour of the Woolworth Building lobby and lower levels will be led Lisa Renz, a preservationist working directly on landmarked skyscraper and Roy Suskin of The Witkoff Group who manages the building. In addition to a guided visit through the spectacular lobby, we will also visit the cellar level where the bank vault is located and where the former entrances to the subway are.

Next, read about the Top 10 Secrets of the Woolworth Building and see exterior photos of the building under construction.

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