Thursday, February 23, 2012

Equitable Life Assurance Building

This photo, taken around 1906, shows Equitable Life Assurance Building, which was built in 1870 and is sometimes considered to be the world's first skyscraper. Topping out at 130 feet and seven stories, it is tiny by modern standards, but when it was first built, it was the tallest non-church building in the world, and the first office building to include passenger elevators. It remained the tallest non-church building in the world until 1884, when it was surpassed by the Home Insurance Building in Chicago. Today, the world's tallest building, Burj Khalifa, is about 21 times the height of the Equitable Building. Today, there is another Equitable Building on the same site as this first one, at 120 Broadway. But, what happened to this majestic edifice, once promoted as a "fire-proof building"?

Naturally, the "fire-proof building" was gutted by a fire on January 9, 1912. The firefighting efforts were ineffective because of the cold temperatures, and the water ended up just freezing to the building, clinging to the hollow remains. The site, as mentioned above, was rebuilt in 1915, and that building still stands on Broadway today.


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