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NYC - Financial District: Barclay-Vesey Building | by wallyg
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NYC - Financial District: Barclay-Vesey Building

The Verizon Building, at 140 West Street, was built in 1923-1927 as the Barclay-Vesey Building for the New York Telephone Company. The 32-storey, 152-meter building by Ralph Walker of McKenzie, Voorhees & Gmelin is considered to be the first Art Deco skyscraper. Named after the streets that border it to the north and south, it sits on an entire rhomboid-shaped block and was built to accommodate office space for more than 5,000 workers.

 

Drawing from Saarinen's Chicago Tribune competition entry, the Mayan-inspired brick-clad building is topped with a short, sturdy tower, with the vertical piers ending on "battlements" on top and with sculptural ornaments on the setbacks. The entrances are decorated with bronze bas-reliefs with a main theme of bells, the symbol of the Bell Telephone Company. A neo-Romanesque vaulted arcade with ceiling murals runs the whole length of the Vesey Street side.

 

The massive form contains 4830m² of floorspace without any light courts because the telephone installations didn't require natural light. The 70 m long lobby extends through the middle of the building from Washington to West Streets. The lobby floor is covered with bronze plates depicting the construction of New York's telephone network, and the ceiling has frescoes by Hugo R. B. Newman with the theme of the history of communication, culminating in the then-cutting-edge "candlestick" telephone.

 

The September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks on the nearby World Trade Center damaged also this building, causing, along with some external bruising, serious damage inside. Beams from the falling buildings tore through the building's structures, and the underground vaults with their tele-equipment were flooded with 38 million liters of water, putting 300,000 phone lines out of order for a week. The reconstruction of the building, including the painstaking restoration of the eastern entrance bas-reliefs and the lobby ceiling murals (estimated at $2 million and unveiled in early 2004), has been estimated to cost $200 million.

 

The Barclay-Vesey Building was designated a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1991.

 

National Register #09000257 (2009)

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Taken on January 6, 2007