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Woolworth Building 1913

by Cass Gilbert, 1859-1934

F.W. Woolworth, owner of the Woolworth company, wanted his company to construct the tallest building in the world. Woolworth commissioned engineer Gunvald Aus and architect Cass Gilbert, who had designed the US Custom House in New York in 1899. Gilbert designed a 625-foot tall skyscraper, but that was not tall enough for Woolworth. Gilbert made some additions, and the tower reached 792 feet. Woolworth paid approximately $13.5 million to have the tower built. The Gothic-style skyscraper had a grand opening ceremony, for which President Woodrow Wilson pushed a button and turned on all the lights in the building – allegedly from his desk in the Oval Office.


1859 Cass Gilbert born
1907 Gilbert becomes president of the AIA
1913 Woolworth Building opens
1934 Gilbert dies

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