For more than half its life, Lower Manhattan’s iconic Woolworth Building has been off-limits to all but the lucky few employed in its handful of professional office spaces. While the lobby has been technically closed to the public since World War II, the management doubled down on its policy after 9/11, erecting the infamous “TOURISTS ARE NOT PERMITTED” sign much bemoaned by local architecture buffs.
On Wednesday, January 22nd at 6:30pm, we’ll be offering readers the chance for intimate, hour-long tour led by Jason Crowley, a preservationist and architectural historian who is working to digitize and catalogue the extensive collection of Woolworth Building archives. You will not only get to see the famous lobby, but also the vault of the former bank and past entrances to subway lines in the basement of the building.
Jason will lead us across the street to City Hall Park where we’ll examine the highly ornamented exterior of what was once the tallest building in the world. After discussing the Woolworth’s crucial importance to the development of the skyscraper and the New York City skyline, Jason will take us into the lobby, where he’ll share commentary on the vaulted ceilings and sculptural details.
Following the tour, Untapped Cities history columnist Benjamin Waldman will lead guests to an optional cocktail hour at Fraunces Tavern. While you mingle with other members of the Untapped community, Ben will be on hand to discuss the evolution of New York City’s skyscrapers from Trinity Church to the World Trade Center, as well as the zoning changes they’ve necessitated.
Tour has limited capacity. Tickets available for tour only, tour and cocktail-hour Q&A, or cocktail-hour Q&A only.
See more of Untapped Cities’ upcoming events here.
In 1964, a father and son were renovating a former speakeasy in the East Village into a theater when they came across two unopened safes in the basement. The speakeasy had been sold eagerly for a very cheap price and the entertainment business then was closely linked to mobsters. To touch their belongings meant death. Opening it with the former owner, $2 million dollars were found inside. What happened next has shaped the lives and the theater for the next sixty years.
Join us for a tour and cocktail at this former Prohibition speakeasy on December 8th at 3:30pm, which includes a guided walk through of the Museum of the American Gangster. You’ll see the original safes that were discovered, the former escape routes for the mafia, and more. There are only a few tickets left, so grab them now!
Safety deposit “graveyard” discovered in The Woolworth Building
On our last Untapped Cities event that toured the Woolworth Building, we got to see some parts of the landmark space that weren’t shown even on visits we’ve taken with other organizations before. The most unique spot was the bank vault which is no longer in use, but still packed to the gills with safety deposit boxes and files. In this area was a veritable “graveyard” of safety deposits boxes, waiting to be thrown out. We had previously reported on other “non-human graveyards,” so we had a special interest in this oddity.
Though the (real) remnants of Prohibition are often difficult to find in NYC, particularly with so many bars mimicking the feel, rest assured that there is still once place full of history and open for exploration. Join us for our next Untapped Cities event with a tour and cocktail at an authentic Prohibition era speakeasy in the East Village on Sunday, December 8th, at 3:30pm. The speakeasy, still being used as a bar and theater, retains the original wood horseshoe bar, access to original mafia escape tunnels, and the safes where $2 million dollars were found by Lorcan Otway, the founder of the Museum of the American Gangster, and his father.
The tour guide from the Museum of American Gangster will give us a walkthrough of the museum and speakeasy remnants that will conclude with a vintage cocktail at the bar. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the museum. Space is limited.
If you’re looking to avoid the standard Halloween at all costs and up for a more “urbanist” experience, we’ve rounded up some events for city nerds.
Costumed Halloween Twilight Tour at the Newtown Creek Digester Eggs
This unique tour, which includes prizes for best costumes, will take place at 6pm on Halloween at the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. The piece de resistance will be the illuminated digester eggs that convert sludge into water, carbon dioxide, and methane gas, and eventually use those to make fertilizer.
Did you know that this part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art used to be located on Wall Street? On Saturday November 9th, from 2:30-3:30pm, we’ll be doing an exclusive architecture and design tour for Untapped Cities readers of the Engelhard Court. Inside this court and in nearby period rooms are structural works by Stanford White, Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan and Louis Comfort Tiffany. We’ll head to the Great Hall Balcony Bar after the tour to enjoy a glass of wine amidst a rare view of the museum’s majestic lobby. Space is limited as we want to keep this event small, an experience you can’t usually get on a Met Museum tour!
Docent Lee Miller will be giving the tour. She has been an Education Volunteer at the Metropolitan Museum for more than 25 years. She specializes in the American Wing and has a particular interest in decorative arts and architectural elements in the collection.