Interior and exterior of Art Deco skyscraper considered

70 Pine Street in Manhattan’s Financial District. Image: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Owner and preservation groups supported designating the exterior and first-floor lobby of 66-story tower at 70 Pine Street. On May 10, 2011, Landmarks simultaneously heard testimony on the potential exterior and interior designations of the Cities Service Building at 70 Pine Street in Lower Manhattan. The 66-story tower was designed and built by Clinton & Russell, Holton & George in 1932 for use by the energy service provider Cities Services, later renamed CITGO. The skyscraper was the third tallest structure in the world at the time of its completion, behind only the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. The Cities Service Building was Lower Manhattan’s tallest structure until the construction of the World Trade Center in the 1970s.

The set-back building is clad in gray limestone and rose-and-black granite, and features Art Deco ornamentation. Limestone models of the skyscraper are featured at the center of the building’s two main entrance portals. The models permit visitors to view the building in its entirety, which is impossible from street-level in an area crowded with tall buildings and narrow streets.

The building’s first-floor lobby includes six intersecting hallways, an elevator bank, two open staircases, and an information kiosk. The walls of the lobby feature polished European marble and the staircases, entrances, and elevators are embellished with cast aluminum ornament. As a reminder of the original occupant’s energy business, the lobby’s ceiling features a decorative pattern resembling light waves emanating from the light fixtures.

At the hearings on both designations, Frank Sciame spoke on behalf of Sahn Eagle LLC, which purchased the building from AIG in 2009. Sciame testified that Sahn Eagle supported both designations and would work with Landmarks on the adaptive reuse of the building. Architect John Beyer, of Beyer Blinder Belle, testified that the owner planned to convert the office tower into a mixed-use property including residential, hotel, and retail uses. Beyer noted that any required alterations would be respectful and performed in partnership with Landmarks.

Manhattan Community Board 1, the Historic Districts Council, and the New York Landmarks Conservancy supported both designations. CB 1’s Bruce Ehrmann noted that the Cities Service Building was probably the City’s “most important non-designated building.”

Landmarks did not set a date to vote on the designations.

LPC: Cities Service Building, 70 Pine Street, Manhattan (LP-2441); Cities Service Building, First Floor Interior, 70 Pine Street, Manhattan (LP-2442) (May 10, 2011).

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.