Urban explorers and thrill seekers of New York City often take death-defying risks to get their adrenaline fix and the perfect photograph from atop the city’s highest peaks. Urban explorer and photographer svvvk has been taking his art to new heights recently, over 900 feet above Lower Manhattan to the top of 40 Wall Street, in his latest heart pumping YouTube video. The video documents his daring climb up the 71-story neo-Gothic skyscraper, once one of the tallest buildings in the world. Once atop the tower Svvvk reached over the edge to take amazing photographs looking down at Lower Manhattan which he shared with Untapped Cities. This feat adds to a whole host of daring climbs performed by the photographer in order to capture unbelievable aerial shots taken from extreme vantage points from the tops of New York City skyscrapers to the mountains of Colorado.
Photograph Courtesy of svvvk
In the video, viewers watch from Svvk’s point-of-view as he climbs stairs and ladders and squeezes through support beams to emerge on the roof of the skyscraper, then continues to climb up the tower’s spire for an unobstructed view looking down on Lower Manhattan that will make viewers’ knees shake. Svvvk told Untapped Cities that he chose to climb 40 Wall Street because of its “unique history once being the tallest in the world and also its iconic and unique appearance downtown.”
40 Wall Street was at one point the tallest building on earth and part of the “Race into the Sky” during the 1920s. Originally designed by architect H. Craig Severance, with the help of Yasuo Matsui and Shreve & Lamb, the proposed height was only to be 47-stories tall. In 1928 Severance increased the planned height of the building to be 840 feet tall with 62 floors, beating both the 792-foot Woolworth Building and the 808-foot Chrysler Building.
However, the Chrysler Building’s chief architect William Van Alen would not easily accept defeat. Van Alen began construction of a four peice spire that would add 125-feet to the building’s height and give the Chrysler Building its famous silhouette. Severance and William Van Alen had once been partners and friends, but had a falling out, making the “Race into the Sky” a personal feud as much as it was a professional one. In response to the Chrysler Building’s newfound height, Severance’s associates Shreve & Lamb wrote in an article that 40 Wall Street still deserved the title of tallest building because it maintained the highest useable floor. The observation deck on the 71st floor of 40 Wall Street, advertised in the WPA Guide to New York City along with other art deco observation decks like the now off-limits deck of the Chanin Building, was once open to the public daily with free admission and rose 100 feet above the top useable floor of the Chrysler Building. Both buildings lost any hope of solidifying a record-breaking title when the Empire State Building finished construction a year later, measuring in at 1,454 feet from floor to tip with observation decks on the 86th and 102nd floors.
Photograph Courtesy of svvvk
40 Wall Street remains a part of public discourse today due to its relatively recent purchase by President Donald Trump. After making the purchase in 1995, Trump attempted to turn the building into a commercial and residential project, but succeeded only in the commercial aspect of his mission. He then tried to sell the building in 2003 to no avail, most likely because of his steep asking price of $400 million.
Next, check out the Top 10 Secrets of 40 Wall Street, the Trump Building in NYC.