Construction of the Woolworth BuildingAll photos via Library of Congress

The Woolworth Building was designed to be the tallest building in the world and succeeded in holding that title for seventeen years. In celebration of its centennial, we recently went in to photograph its off-limits lobby and underbelly with the Skyscraper Museum, but today we want to show you vintage photos of the historic landmark under construction.
The photos, sourced from  the Library of Congress and Daily News, highlight not only how the building towered over its built environment at the time, but the sheer amount of steel structure encased in it. The engineers were concerned about its stability and erred on the side of overusing steel, and as a result, the Woolworth Building contains more steel than the Empire State Building, despite being 458 feet shorter.

Tourists were able to visit the observation deck until 1945 but the few visitors that are still allowed can see the lobby of the Woolworth Building and its vaulted ceiling decorated with mosaics. The top floors of the building are currently being converted into luxury apartments.
Construction of the Woolworth Building, 1912
Construction of the Woolworth Building, 1912
Construction of the Woolworth Building, 1911
Construction of the Woolworth Building, 1912
Join our upcoming exclusive tour of the Woolworth Building, led by the architect Cass Gilbert’s Great Granddaughter:
VIP Tour of the Woolworth Building
Next, read about the Top 10 Secrets of the Woolworth Building.