Adams Express Building

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Adams Express Building
Adams Express Company Building, New York City.jpg
A 1914 postcard featuring the Adams Express Co. Building
General information
Type Office
Architectural style Palazzo[1]
Location Financial District, Manhattan
Address 61 Broadway
Town or city New York, New York
Coordinates 40°42′25.15″N 74°0′45.71″W / 40.7069861°N 74.0126972°W / 40.7069861; -74.0126972Coordinates: 40°42′25.15″N 74°0′45.71″W / 40.7069861°N 74.0126972°W / 40.7069861; -74.0126972
Construction started 1912
Completed 1914[2]
Cost 1914: $2,000,000
1998: $58,000,000
Owner RXR Realty [3]
Height 443 ft (135.0 m)[4]
Technical details
Structural system Steel
Material Terracotta facade
Floor count 32
Floor area 670,000 sq ft (62,245 m2)[5]
Design and construction
Architect Francis H. Kimball
Main contractor Robert E. Dowling

Adams Express Building is an office building owned by RXR Realty and located at 61 Broadway in lower Manhattan, New York City.

Architect Francis Kimball designed the 32-story building, and construction began in 1912 on the property numbers 57-61 Broadway, with numbers 33-41 Trinity Place. Cost was estimated in 1912 at $2,000,000.[6] Upon completion in 1914, the building was the seventh tallest structure in Manhattan. Construction required 3,300 tons of steel and over a million square feet of terracotta. The New York Times described the architectural style as "Florentine" below the fifth floor, and "severely simple" above.[5] Another critic called the style "utterly utilitarian,"[4] but the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission identified the architecture as palazzo.[1]


Adams Express Building

The Adams Express Company occupied part of the Pinkerton Building at 57-59 Broadway. A 1904 fire that began in the basement of the Morris Building at 63 Broadway damaged the Pinkerton and other buildings in the block. Twenty-four engines and six hook and ladder companies responded.[7] The Fire Department of New York recorded that the Adams Express Company building was destroyed,[8] but Adams Express continued to occupy the site.

By 1906 Adams Express was planning a new, fireproof building to be constructed on the site of the Pinkerton Building.[9]


In 1910 Industrial World Magazine reported that Adams Express was proceeding with a 10-story, brick and limestone building designed by George K. Hooper of Hooper-Faulkenau Engineering Company.[5] Then in 1911 Adams Express finally purchased The Pinkerton Building.[10] Although Hooper's plans would have blended with existing buildings in the Wall Street area where, in 1912, nearly half of the buildings were five stories or lower,[2] the Hooper design was never constructed. Apparently it was too small for the times ahead.

When construction began in 1912 on the straight up, 32-story Francis Kimball design, first The New York Times and later city planners became concerned about sunlight and airspace.[5] The Adams Express Building was one of a growing number of behemoths, most notably the Equitable Building,[11] that cast shadows not only on the street but on nearby smaller buildings and drove down real estate value, rent, and tax revenues. F.W. Fitzpatrick complained that the Adams Express Building cast an 875-foot shadow.[12] The 1916 zoning code provided a remedy in the form of setbacks where new buildings would be stepped back at certain heights depending on the width at the street. The restrictions applied to all but one quarter of the ground area of the building. Fortunately for Kimball, groundbreaking on the Adams Express Building occurred before the new zoning restrictions were adopted.

Later history[edit]

The building sustained heavy damage in 1916 when 300 windows were blown out in the Black Tom explosion.[5]

When the building was purchased by Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in 1988, an engineer discovered goldfish living in a pool of water below the basement heating system and now have resident turtle who fed and kept healthy by the RXR building engineers.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Cunard Building" (PDF). Designation List 266 LP-1928 Page 7 note 9. NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. September 19, 1995. Retrieved August 12, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Landau, Sarah Branford (1996). Rise of the New York Skyscraper (First ed.). New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press. p. 395. ISBN 978-0300064445. 
  3. ^ "Historic downtown tower fetches $330M". Crain's New York Business. Retrieved 6 April 2015. 
  4. ^ a b "Adams Express Company Building". The Woolworth Building @100. The Skyscraper Museum. Retrieved August 11, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f "The 1914 Adams Express Buildling -- 61 Broadway". Daytonian in Manhattan. September 22, 2011. Retrieved August 11, 2014. 
  6. ^ Office for Metropolitan History, "Manhattan NB Database 1900-1986," (7 Feb 2010)
  7. ^ "Big Fire in New York: Downtown District Threatened with Destruction". Geneva Daily Times. Geneva, New York: Geneva Printing Co. March 26, 1904. p. 1. Retrieved August 12, 2014. 
  8. ^ Boucher, Mike. "What Happened on This Day". The Month of March. The Unofficial Home Page of FDNY. Retrieved August 12, 2014. 
  9. ^ "New York City Notes", The Express Gazette, 31 (1): 26, January 15, 1906 [1873] 
  10. ^ "Adams Express Company Buys 57 Broadway". The New York Times. New York, New York: The New York Times Company. May 24, 1911. Retrieved August 12, 2014. 
  11. ^ Although the Equitable Building was still in the planning stage when city officials began writing the new zoning code, see Nash, Eric P. (2010). Manhattan Skyscrapers. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. p. 25. ISBN 978-1568989679. 
  12. ^ Fitzpatrick, Francis (December 1919), "Cutting Steps in the Skyscraper", Popular Science, 95 (5), p. 52, retrieved August 20, 2014 

External links[edit]