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40 WALL STREET CONSTRUCTION

40 wall
Page reproduction from the Starrett Job Book, Gift of HRH Construction.

40 wall
Detail of above page reproduction from the Starrett Job Book, Gift of HRH Construction.

"Of all the construction work I have handled, the Bank of Manhattan was the most complicated and the most difficult, and I regard it as the most successful." So wrote the builder Paul Starrett in his 1938 autobiography Changing the Skyline. In May 1929, just a few months before they received the commission to erect the Empire State Building, Starrett Brothers & Eken constructed the 70-story Bank of Manhattan tower with astonishing speed: demolition and erection was completed in just 12 months.

40 wall







One of the most innovative aspects of the construction was the foundation, fourteen photographs of which are framed on the column on the right. Starrett described the immense challenges of the tight site and construction schedule, which is also graphed in the progress chart to the right. 

"The existing buildings were of heavy masonry, with foundation walls five feet thick, in some cases, and very difficult to remove. Obviously, we could not complete on time if we waited on the wrecking. We decided, therefore, to install our caissons under the old buildings, using them to brace and hold our work and to act as a weight against which we could use our jacks. Here the wrecking above was carried on simultaneously with the foundation work below. With three shifts of men working seven days a week, we were able to put tenants in the new offices on May 1, 1930. Our operations were not made easier by the narrow and congested streets, with complete lack of storage space outside the building line. We had to make the most careful plans for delivery and distribution of materials... I had subsequently to answer criticism that we wasted money to save time; our entire expense in overtime was less than one month's gross revenue of the new building, and we saved several months."

Shown above and in the case opposite are the original Starrett job book and reproduced pages recording precise prices of all the materials used at 40 Wall and 63 Wall. Total cost for the 40 Wall construction was $13,091,416 or .9446 dollars per cubic foot.







40 wall

40 wall
Back of case: Construction progress photograph of 40 Wall Street, 11/11/1929. Original, gift of Judith Stonehill, New York Bound Archives.

From 1878 until its demolition in 1955 the Third Avenue Elevated Railroad, or "El," serviced Manhattan's east side, traveling from South Ferry in Lower Manhatatn to the Bronx. This early 1950s film begins with views of Wall Street landmarks, as the film's protagonist, a young journalist, snaps a rattling train crossing the stone-paved thoroughfare at Pearl Street. 

Filmed just before the South Ferry - Chatham Square (near the NY County Courthouse) section of the El was closed in 1950, the film records the tight squeeze as the rail lines snake through the office buildings of the financial district. As the train pulls away from the Fulton Street station, the view south shows the white setbacks of the 120 Wall building in the background as the train makes the journey up Pearl Street to the Bowery.

Video: 3rd Ave. El, Produced and Directed by Carson Davidson, Ardee Films, c. 1950. Retrieved from www.archive.org

NEXT: 40 WALL STREET FOUNDATION PHOTOGRAPHS

Pre-1850 History of Wall Street
Dutch Origins
New Amsterdam: The Castello Plan
British New York
Early 18th Century
The Slave Market
City Hall
East River Commerce
Fire of 1776
Trinity Churches
Mansions and Banks
Wall Street in 1825
The Great Fire of 1835
Customs House and Merchants Exchange
A Street of Banks
Lowenstrom's Panorama-1850 South
Lowenstrom's Panorama-1850 North
New York in 1850
Fortune 1930
Monuments of Wall Street
Early Photographs of Wall Street
Vertical Wall Street
SOUTH SIDE:
1 Wall Street
23 and 63 Wall Street
Unbuilt Stock Exchange
NORTH SIDE:
14 Wall Street
40 Wall Street
60 Wall Street
120 Wall Street
1928-1931 Towers
East River End
Historical Land Maps