Equitable Life Building (Manhattan)

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Equitable Life Assurance Building
circa 1890
General information
Status Destroyed
Type Commercial offices
Location 120 Broadway
New York City
United States
Coordinates 40°42′30″N 74°00′40″W / 40.7084°N 74.011°W / 40.7084; -74.011Coordinates: 40°42′30″N 74°00′40″W / 40.7084°N 74.011°W / 40.7084; -74.011
Construction started 1868
Completed May 1, 1870
Destroyed January 9, 1912
Roof 40 m (130 ft)
Technical details
Floor count 7
Design and construction
Architect Arthur Gilman
Edward H. Kendall
Structural engineer George B. Post

The Equitable Life Assurance Building was the headquarters of The Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States. Construction was completed on May 1, 1870, at 120 Broadway in Manhattan, New York City, and under the leadership of Henry Baldwin Hyde was the first office building to feature passenger elevators.[2] At a record 130 feet (40 m), it is considered by some as the world's first skyscraper.[3][4] The architects were Arthur Gilman and Edward H. Kendall, with George B. Post as a consulting engineer; hydraulic elevators made by the Elisha Otis company.

Destroyed by fire[edit]

The building, described as fireproof, was destroyed by a massive fire on January 9, 1912.[5] Extremely cold weather caused the water from the fire trucks to freeze on the building. Six people died.[6][7]

New building[edit]

The present Equitable Building was completed in 1915 on the same plot, and was designed by Ernest R. Graham & Associates. The massive bulk of the newer building was a major impetus behind the city's 1916 Zoning Resolution.[8]


  1. ^ "Equitable Life Building". SkyscraperPage. 
  2. ^ Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States (November 1901). "The Elevator Did It". The Equitable News: An Agents' Journal (23): 11. Retrieved January 10, 2012. 
  3. ^ Gordon Fulton (2010). "Skyscrapers: Chase for the Clouds". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Foundation. Retrieved 2010-02-05. 
  4. ^ "The Origins of the Commonplace & Curious in America: Skyscrapers". Magical Hystory Tour. Archived from the original on June 29, 2015. Retrieved September 13, 2010. 
  5. ^ "The Burning of the Equitable Building in New York City". Engineering News. 67: 119–120. January 18, 1912. Retrieved February 4, 2012. 
  6. ^ Dunlap, David W. (January 8, 2012). "Consumed in Fire, Cloaked in Ice, Equitable's Headquarters Fell 100 Years Ago". The New York Times. Retrieved January 23, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Heroes of Ground Zero. FDNY A History". PBS WNET. 2002. Retrieved 2010-02-04. 
  8. ^ Equitable Building, New York City (1915) at Emporis

External links[edit]