The magnificent first floor of the Cunard Building
At 25 Broadway in Manhattan’s Financial District sits the Cunard Building– a vast, 22-story limestone office building with a neo-Renaissance facade that immediately distinguishes it. However, as you will soon see, it’s the building’s marine-inspired interior that truly sets it apart.
The Cunard Building’s limestone exterior. Image via Marcharch
The Cunard Building opened on May 2, 1921 for the Cunard Steamship Line. When you walk through the entrance, into the great hall and opulent vestibule, it’s immediately clear why the first floor was made a New York City Landmark. Its walls and vaulted ceilings, adorned with ornate images of steamship routes and sea life, are exquisite and reflect the power of the Cunard Steamship Line during the 1900s.
The Cunard Building was designed by the architect Benjamin Wistar Morris along with the architectural firm Carrere & Hastings. Morris worked with muralist Ezra Winter to create a decor plan that focused on marine and shipping themes for the building. The building’s lobby served as the business’s ticketing hall, which was 183 feet long with a 68 foot dome, until 1968.
The Cunard Steamship Line is a British-American cruise line named after a Nova Scotian man named Samuel Cunard, who was awarded the first British trans-Atlantic steamship mail contract. He held the Blue Riband reward for 30 years for the speediest Atlantic voyage. When he faced competition from other lines, he reorganized his company to raise more money, calling it the “Cunard Steamship Line.”
Today the ticketing hall is owned by the luxury corporate Cipriani S.A. as an event space. The building was sold in 1977 and the Great Hall was a post office branch until 2000. It was also recently featured in Fox’s hit show, Gotham.