40 Wall Street

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40 Wall Street
40 Wall Street.jpg
40 Wall Street in December 2005
40 Wall Street is located in Lower Manhattan
40 Wall Street
40 Wall Street is located in Manhattan
40 Wall Street
40 Wall Street is located in New York City
40 Wall Street
40 Wall Street is located in New York
40 Wall Street
40 Wall Street is located in the US
40 Wall Street
Location within Lower Manhattan
Alternative names The Trump Building, Manhattan Company Building
Record height
Tallest in the world from April 1930 to May 27, 1930[I]
Preceded by Woolworth Building
Surpassed by Chrysler Building
General information
Architectural style Neo-gothic
Location 40 Wall Street, New York City, New York 10005
Coordinates 40°42′25″N 74°00′35″W / 40.706964°N 74.009672°W / 40.706964; -74.009672Coordinates: 40°42′25″N 74°00′35″W / 40.706964°N 74.009672°W / 40.706964; -74.009672
Construction started 1929
Completed April 1930
Owner Hinneberg brothers, Hamburg, Germany
Landlord Donald Trump
Architectural 927 ft (283 m)[1]
Top floor 836 ft (255 m)[1]
Technical details
Floor count 72[1]
Floor area 1,111,675 sq ft (103,278.0 m2)
Lifts/elevators 36[1]
Manhattan Company Building
Location 40 Wall Street, New York City
Area less than one acre
Built 1929–1930
Architect H. Craig Severance, Yasuo Matsui, et al.
Architectural style Skyscraper
NRHP reference # 00000577[2]
Added to NRHP June 16, 2000

40 Wall Street, also known as the Trump Building, is a 71-story neo-gothic skyscraper between Nassau Street and William Street in Manhattan, New York City. Erected by The Manhattan Company as its headquarters, the building was originally known as the Bank of Manhattan Trust Building,[4] and also as the Manhattan Company Building,[2] until its founding tenant merged to form the Chase Manhattan Bank.[5] The structure was completed in 1930 after 11 months of construction.


An early picture of the Manhattan Company Building.

The building was designed by H. Craig Severance, along with Yasuo Matsui (associate architect), and Shreve & Lamb (consulting architects). Edward F. Caldwell & Co. designed the lighting. Der Scutt of Der Scutt Architect designed the lobby and entrance renovation.[5] Its pinnacle reaches 927 feet (283 m) and was very briefly the tallest building in the world, surpassed by a spire attached to the Chrysler Building a few months later.[6]

Competition for "world's tallest building" title[edit]

Construction of the Bank of Manhattan Building at 40 Wall Street began in 1928, with a planned height of 840 feet (260 m), making it 135 feet (41 m) taller than the nearby Woolworth Building, completed in 1913. More importantly, the plans were designed to be two feet taller than the Chrysler Building, which was in an ostensible competition to be the world's tallest building.

To stay ahead in the race, the architects of 40 Wall Street changed their originally announced height of 840 feet (260 m), or 68 stories, to 927 feet (283 m), or 71 stories, making their building, upon completion in May 1930, the tallest in the world. This triumph turned out to be short-lived.

Uptown at 405 Lexington Avenue, the Chrysler Building developers had plans in the works to top 40 Wall Street. By October 1929, tycoon Walter Chrysler used his secret weapon to win the race to the top: a 125-foot (38 m) stainless steel spire was clandestinely assembled in the Chrysler Building's crown and hoisted into place, bringing it to a height of 1,046 feet (319 m). Once completed on May 28, 1930, the Chrysler Building surpassed 40 Wall Street as the tallest building in the world, fulfilling Chrysler's dream.[7]

Upset by Chrysler’s victory, Shreve & Lamb, consulting architects of 40 Wall Street, wrote a newspaper article claiming that their building was the tallest, since it contained the world's highest usable floor. They pointed out that the observation deck in the Bank of Manhattan Building was nearly 100 feet (30 m) above the top floor in the Chrysler Building, whose surpassing spire was strictly ornamental and essentially inaccessible.[8] This became a moot point when the Empire State Building was completed eleven months later in 1931, becoming the world’s tallest building in both of those categories, at 1,250 feet (380 m).[6]

1946 plane crash[edit]

On the evening of May 20, 1946, a United States Army Air Forces Beechcraft C-45F Expediter airplane crashed into the north side of the building. The twin-engined plane was heading for Newark Airport on a flight originating at Lake Charles Army Air Field in Louisiana. It struck the 58th floor of the building at about 8:10 PM, creating a 20-by-10-foot (6.1 m × 3.0 m) hole in the masonry, and killing all five aboard the plane, including a WAC officer. The fuselage and the wing of the splintered plane fell and caught onto the 12th story ledge.[9]

Fog and low visibility were identified as the main causes of the crash. At the time of the accident, LaGuardia Field reported a heavy fog that reduced the ceiling to 500 feet (150 m), obscuring the view of the ground for the pilot at the building's 58th story level. Parts of the aircraft and pieces of brick and mortar from the building fell into the street below, but there were no reported injuries to any of the estimated 2,000 workers in the building, nor anyone on the street.[10]

This crash at 40 Wall Street was the second of its kind in New York City's history, the first being when an Army B-25 bomber struck the 78th floor of the Empire State Building in July 1945. The cause of that crash was also fog and poor visibility.[10]

The 1946 accident was the last time an airplane accidentally struck a skyscraper in New York City until October 11, 2006, when a small plane carrying New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle crashed into a 50-story condo building on Manhattan's Upper East Side.[11][12]

Decline and revival[edit]

40 Wall Street at ground level.

In 1982, Joseph J. and Ralph E. Bernstein purchased leasing rights 40 Wall Street and were later found to be acting on behalf of Ferdinand E. Marcos, the President of the Philippines. When Marcos was removed from power and his assets in the United States were frozen, the building was placed in limbo.[13]

In 1995, after years of neglect, the lease was transferred to Donald Trump, who later renamed the building The Trump Building.[14] He planned to convert the upper half of it to residential space, leaving the bottom half as commercial space. The cost of converting it to residential space proved to be too high, and it remains 100% commercial space.[15] He tried to sell the building in 2003, expecting offers in excess of $300 million. They did not materialize. In the ninth episode of the fourth season of The Apprentice, Trump claimed he only paid $1 million for the building, but that it was actually worth $400 million. This episode aired November 17, 2005. Trump's legal advisor, George H. Ross, restated this claim in a 2005 book.[16]

On CNBC's The Billionaire Inside, Trump again claimed he paid $1 million for the building, but stated the value as $600 million, a $200 million increase from two years earlier. The episode aired October 17, 2007, on CNBC. However, it has also been reported that Trump paid $10 million for the building and the building is now worth $1 Billion.[17] According to 2015 Federal Election Commission filings, Trump has an outstanding mortgage on the property in excess of $50 million.[18]

In 1998, the building was designated a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. The tower was the tallest mid-block building in New York City until the completion of One57 in 2014.[19]

As of 2009, Country-Wide Insurance Company was the single largest tenant at 40 Wall Street, having made it its home since 1998.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "40 Wall Street". CTBUH Skyscraper Database. 
  2. ^ a b National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  3. ^ 40 Wall Street at Emporis
  4. ^ "40 Wall Street – The Trump Building". 
  5. ^ a b White, Norval & Willensky, Elliot (2000), AIA Guide to New York City (4th ed.), New York: Three Rivers Press, ISBN 978-0-8129-3107-5 . p.019.
  6. ^ a b "The History of Measuring Tall Buildings". Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. Retrieved 3 May 2012. 
  7. ^ Tauranac, John (2014). The Empire State Building: The Making of a Landmark, p. 130. Cornell University Press. ISBN 9780801471094.
  8. ^ Binders, George. 101 of the World's Tallest Buildings. p. 102. Pub. Date: August 2006.
  9. ^ "PLANE HITS WALL ST. BANK (May 21, 1946)". 
  10. ^ a b "Pilot Lost in Fog," New York Times, May 21, 1946, p. 1
  11. ^ Levy, Matthys and Salvadori, Mario, Why Buildings Fall Down: How Structures Fail (2002), p. 30: "… no plane has accidentally hit a skyscraper since the Empire State and Wall Street catastrophes." [1]
  12. ^ Yankees' Lidle killed in plane crash, Mark Feinsand, MLB.com, October 11, 2006
  13. ^ Oser, Alan S. "Perspectives: 40 Wall Street; Asian Buyer Accepts a Leasing Challenge", New York Times, 20 June 1993.
  14. ^ "Meet the obscure German magnates who actually own Trump’s most valuable building". The Real Deal. 6 January 2017. 
  15. ^ Ross, George H. (2005). Trump Strategies for Real Estate: Billionaire Lessons for the Small Investor. John Wiley & Sons. p. 51. 
  16. ^ Ross, George H. (2005). Trump Strategies for Real Estate: Billionaire Lessons for the Small Investor. John Wiley & Sons. p. 50. 
  17. ^ "Trump fills 40 Wall Street with low rents, incentives", The Real Deal, 23 January 2012.
  18. ^ Zurcher, Anthony (July 23, 2015). "Five take-aways from Donald Trump's financial disclosure". BBC. Retrieved March 2, 2016. 
  19. ^ http://www.snopes.com/trump-bragged-tallest-building/
  20. ^ "Insurance Firm Inks 109K-Foot Deal in Trumps’ 40 Wall". 29 September 2009. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Woolworth Building
Tallest building in the world
April 1930 – May 1930
Succeeded by
Chrysler Building
Tallest building in the United States
April 1930 – May 1930