Washington Building, One Broadway


In the 17th century an old tavern, kept by Pieter Kocks, an officer of the Dutch service, stood on the site of number one Broadway. This lot was granted to him by the Dutch West India Company about the 1640s.

In 1745, Archibald Kennedy (1685-1763) purchased the property to build his mansion that became No. 1 Broadway (see illustration on the right). After 1763, his son, the Captain Kennedy, became the principal occupant of the mansion. In 1776, during the Independence War, Kennedy was arrested by colonial authorities, released on parole and went to Scotland some years later.

In January, 1776, General Lee claimed the Kennedy Mansion his headquarters. In April, George Washington set up headquarters at the Mansion. Other generals also occupied it. In the early 19th century, the Mansion was sold by Captain Kennedy’s son and it became the Washington Hotel, with additional floors.

By mid-1881, Cyrus West Field (1819-1892) bought the property facing on Battery Place and bounded on the east by Broadway and on the west by Greenwich Street, where the historic Washington Hotel stood at 1 Broadway (see a map). Field was a businessman, who became famous after leading the project to lay the first transatlantic telegraph cable. He invited six of New York's best architects to draw plans for a large office building (a skyscraper at the time) on the site. Designs were received on November 1, 1881, and Edward H. Kendall (1842-1901) was chosen as the winner. The old Washington Hotel's furnishings were sold off in December, 1881, and then it was demolished.

This new office building, facing both Bowling Green and Battery Park, was covered in heavy dark red masonry and was designed by Edward H. Kendall. It was built with 358 rooms, every one of which was perfectly ventilated and lighted by the rays of sunshine. The new building, sometimes called the Field Building, sometimes the Washington Building, opened in 1884.

On February 16, 1884, a public auction of 11 memberships in the Manhattan Hay and Produce Exchange, organized in July 1882, was conducted in the Washington Building. The Manhattan Hay and Produce Exchange left its old quarters on 11th Avenue and 34th Street and formally opened in the Washington Building, on March 26, 1884.

Washington Building was expanded in 1886 / 1887 to become a 12-story building, according to the original design. Two additional stories and an elaborate cornice were constructed. Its dome reached 258 feet above ground.

In 1919, the Washington Building was acquired by the International Mercantile Marine Company and the it was renovated to gain its current neoclassical style, completed in 1921.


Washington Building


Historic Buildings of NYC


Field (Washington) Building in 1892. Photo by Strohmeyer & Wyman (originally in stereograph format, Library of Congress).


Above, the Kennedy Mansion. Below, the Mansion was renovated, with additional floors, to become the Washington Hotel in the 19th century.




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Above, the Washington Hotel, between 1850 and 1860.

Below, Washington Building in the early 20th century, sees from The Battery, vintage postcard.


Washington Building


Washington Building under renovation around 1921. Frank M. Ingalls photograph collection, New-York Historical Society.


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Washington Building, One Broadway


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