Germania Life Insurance Company Building


Historically known as the Germania Life Insurance Company Building, now W New York - Union Square, is a NYC landmark building at 50 Union Square East or 201 Park Avenue South, on the northeast corner of East 17th Street, in Manhattan.

The Germania Life Insurance Company was incorporated in 1860 in New York. Its first office operated at 90 Broadway. In 1864, the company moved into larger offices at 293 Broadway and in 1874, moved again to 287 Broadway. By 1880, over 25 % of the company's business was done outside the United States. In 1884, the company moved to its six-story building at 20 Nassau Street, corner of Cedar Street, bought at auction in July 1882. The elegant building with a mansard roof developed structural problems and was sold by March, 1909, to the Fourth National Bank, which occupied the adjoining building on Nassau St. Germania Life was allowed to occupy the building for two more years.

The site for the new headquarters was acquired by July 1909. This historic 20-story Beaux-Arts building was designed by D'Oench & Yost, a firm formed in 1900 by Albert Frederick D'Oench (1852-1918) and Joseph Warren Yost (1847-1923). D'Oench was a member of the Board of Directors of Germania Life when the commission to erect the building was awarded. The design of the Germania Life Building is dominated by the four-story mansard roof with its varied dormer windows. An illustration of the projected building was published in the New York Times on January 30, 1910.

The building was erected between 1910 and 1911. It was was occupied on April 24 and a sign reading "Germania Life" topped the building from the start. In September, the company bought the adjoining property on 17th Street.

On December 6, 1917, during World War I, the New York Times announced that the old insurance company wanted its nationality unquestioned and it would drop the name "Germania". The directors of the company voted unanimously, on December 5, to apply for the name "Guardian Life Insurance Company of America", which took effect in 1918. The sign on top of the building changed to "Guardian Life".

In 1940, a metal cornice at the 16th floor was removed and a flat
sheet metal fascia was installed. In 1957, new store fronts were
added and the original revolving entrance doors were replaced
with new Herculite doors.

In 1988, the Guardian Life Insurance building was designated a New York City landmark.

Guardian Life left the building in 1998 and completed merger with Berkshire Life Insurance Company in 2001.

In 1999, The Related Companies announced that the Guardian Life Building would be converted into a hotel operated by Starwood. The W New York Union Square hotel opened in December 2000. The sign on top of the building changed to "W Union Square". Although the exterior of the building remained about the same, the interior was transformed to accommodate a modern 270-room hotel.

The W New York Union Square was sold in 2006 to Istithmar World of Dubai. Marriott Hotels & Resorts purchased the W New York Union Square in October 2019.


New York City


W New York Union Square, at the northeast corner of Park Avenue South and 17th Street, from Union Square Park. Google Street View, May 2021.


Union Square


Hotel Union Square


Copyright © Geographic Guide - NYC. Historic Buildings.


View of W Union Square Hotel, looking north from Union Square. Photo from - W Union Square.


Germania Life Insurance Company Building


Hotels NYC




Union Square Park


20th century


Midtown Manhattan


Forth Avenue


Guardian Life Building


Park Avenue South


Germania Life Building


Main lobby and grand staircase (photo from - W Union Square).


The Carlyle


Old City New York