Old Western Union Telegraph Building on Broadway


The old 10-story above ground Western Union Telegraph Building at 195 Broadway, corner of Dey Street, was an early skyscraper in the City of New York, completed in February 1875, renovated from 1890 to 1892 and demolished about 1914.

The Company was founded in Rochester, N.Y., in 1851, as the New York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company. In 1856, after the acquisition of other independent lines, it reorganized to become the Western Union Telegraph Company.

In 1861, the corporate headquarters moved to 145 Broadway, New York City. Later, this site was occupied by the Washington Life Building, completed in 1898. Today, the area is part of Zuccotti Park.

Plans to construct a new headquarters were announced in 1872. The new building was designed in the French Second Empire style by George Browne Post (1837-1913). Post also designed the present neoclassic NYSE building, the New York Times Building (41 Park Row), the Produce Exchange, St. Paul Building, the New York World Building, the Bronx Borough Hall and the Wisconsin State Capitol, among others.

Continue below...


Previously the site was occupied by the old Franklin Hotel and other buildings (illustration on the right).

The Western Union Telegraph Building was completed on February 1, 1875. There was a 3-story mansard roof and the basement was half a level below Broadway. It was 230 feet tall (70 m) at the top of its clock tower, being one of the tallest buildings in the City.

In 1877, a time-ball system was created. A ball was dropped from the top of the building at noon, triggered by telegraph from the National Observatory in Washington, D.C. It inspired the traditional New Year's Eve ball drop in Times Square.

Overhead wires and cables, on Broadway, were buried about 1889.

On July 18, 1890, a fire destroyed the upper stories, which were redesigned by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh (1847-1918), rebuilt without the mansard roof and expanded by 1892. The company also had several other offices throughout the city.

In 1908 AT&T acquired a controlling interest in Western Union.

The old Western Union Telegraph Building was demolished between 1912 and 1914. A new 29-story office building, for both companies, known as the Western Union Building, was erected at 195 Broadway, opened in 1916 and completed in 1922 (see image below). In 1930, another Western Union Building was completed at 60 Hudson Street.


Western Union Telegraph Building




Lost Historic Buildings


Western Union


The Western Union Telegraph Building on Broadway (left). Illustration published about 1875 (The Hatch Lith. Co. 32 & 34 Vesey St., N.Y. from Museum of the City of New York).


Franklin Hotel


NY Early Skyscrapers




Telegraph NY


Broadway NY 19th Century


Dey Street NY


National Academy of Design


Panic 1873

The Western Union Telegraph Building on Wall Street, corner of Broad Street.


Traffic Lower Broadway

North from of John St. Western Union on the left.


The Western Union Building, at 195 Broadway, opened in 1916 and completed in 1922. Vintage postcard by American Art Publishing Company, postmark 1921. Looking south on Broadway.


Lower Broadway New York City

The opposite view of the photo above.


Western Union Broadway


60 Hudson Street


195 Broadway NY


Looking down on Broadway from the old Post Office. The Western Union Telegraph Building is under construction (center background), about the early 1875 (Popular views, New York City, from the New York Public Library).




Construction Broadway


19th century Telegraph


Old Western Union Telegraph Building on Broadway


Former buildings on the site of the Western Union Telegraph Building on Broadway. Franklin Hotel is on the corner of Dey St. Frangment of an llustration published about the 1860s / NYPL.


Historic Buildings


Copyright © Geographic Guide - Early Skyscrapers, City of New York.