The Flatiron Building, NYC
Built: 1902
Designed by: Daniel H. Burnham
Fifth avenue between 22nd and 23rd streets

The Flatiron Building is a favorite of New Yorkers and admirers around the world. Perhaps because it symbolizes so much of how New Yorkers see themselves -- Defiant, bold, sophisticated, and interesting. With just enough embedded grime and soot to highlight its details. The Flatiron's most interesting feature is its shape -- a slender hull plowing up the streets of commerce as the bow off a great ocean liner plows through the waves of its domain. The apex of the building is just six feet wide, and expands into a limestone wedge adorned with Gothic and Renaissance details of Greek faces and terra cotta flowers.

The building has two claims to fame -- one architectural, the other cultural. Some consider the Flatiron Building to be New York City's first skyscraper. It certainly was one of the first buildings in the city to employ a steel frame to hold up its 285-foot tall facade, but not the first. Some felt its shape (like a flatiron) was less artistic and more dangerous. They thought it would fall over, and during construction the Flatiron Building was nicknamed "Burnham's Folly."

The building's cultural legacy is a little more interesting and has passed into the local social consciousness as a fable. It is said that the building created unusual eddies in the wind which would cause women's skirts to fly around as they walked on 23rd street. This attracted throngs of young men who gathered to view the barelegged spectacle. Police would try to disperse these knots of heavy-breathers by calling to them, "23 Skidoo." This phrase has passed out of common usage, but its descendant, the word "scram" remains in a back corner of the American lexicon.

The First National Bank Building in Oakland, CA, was located at a key intersection of 14th Street, San Pablo Avenue and Broadway.

Built in 1904.

Note the Policeman directing traffic.
South Station, Boston Mass.

South Station opened as South Union Station on January 1st, 1899 at a cost of $3.6 million (1899 dollars). It became the busiest station in the country by 1910. A station on the Atlantic Avenue Elevated served the station from 1901 to 1938; what is now the Red Line subway was extended from Park Street to South Station in 1913. The train shed, one of the largest in the world, was eliminated in a 1930 renovation due to corrosion from the nearby ocean's salt air. While the station handled 125,000 passengers each day during World War II, after the war passenger rail declined in the U.S. In 1959, the Old Colony Railroad, which served the South Shore and Cape Cod, stopped passenger service. The New Haven Railroad went bankrupt in 1961. South Station was sold to the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) in 1965. Portions of the station were demolished and the land was used to build the Boston South Postal Annex and the Stone and Webster building.

Grassroots Effort Saves South Station
A group of concerned citizens, outraged at the loss of such a landmark, stepped in and succeeded in getting South Station listed in the National Register of Historic Sites. Demolition was halted and South Station began its rebirth - with a portion of the headhouse and grand waiting room still intact.

Over the next few years, plans were drawn for the ‘New” South Station which included a people-mover in an elevated passageway connecting South Station to Dewey Square, a direct passageway to the MBTA and an indoor sports arena.

In l978, the BRA sold the facility to the MBTA for $6.1 million. Six years later, the MBTA embarked on a project to restore the glory of South Station at a cost of $195 million - six times the station’s original cost.

The rehabilitation of South Station included the rebuilding of the headhouse, reconstruction of 11 station tracks with high level platforms, and the construction of a new bus terminal and parking garage over the tracks.

That phase of reconstruction was completed in time for South Station’s 90th anniversary, but even now, South Station is a work in progress. In its next century you will see this venerable building and its surroundings continue to reshape Boston’s landscape.

This article originally appeared in the May 1999 edition of South Station’s STATION BREAK newsletter.

The Saint Paul Hotel
350 Market Street
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55102

Built in 1910, the handsome Italian Renaissance Revival building was constructed by local businessman Lucius P. Ordway. Recognizing the city’s need for a major hotel, he challenged the community to match his $1 million offer to finance construction. The New York firm of Reed and Stem—best known for their design of New York’s Grand Central terminal—were the architects behind the hotel’s grand facade and stylish interiors.

History of The Saint Paul Hotel
(courtesy of The Saint Paul Hotel website)

In 1856, John Summers invited travelers from all over the world into his home, which eventually became the Greenman House, a 60-room hotel erected in 1871 and destroyed by fire in 1878. By 1878, Mr. Summers and John Baugh, an Eastern hotelier, constructed a much larger and more modern hotel named The Windsor, known at the time to be one of the finest hotels in Saint Paul. The Windsor Hotel was operated successfully until 1880 when Baugh withdrew and sold his interest to Charles J. Monfort. Summers resigned in 1891 and Monfort acted as President and Manager until his death in 1904.

For the next two years the hotel was utilized as an arcade and theater. As the city of Saint Paul continued to grow, the need for a new hotel became increasingly important. In 1908 Lucius P. Ordway, a prime mover in the new hotel project, secured ownership of the property with the intentions of constructing a new luxury hotel. “St. Paul’s Million-Dollar Hotel” was opened with much enthusiasm and ceremony on April 18, 1910. The hotel featured a grand ballroom, fine dining room, roof garden, and guestrooms with their own scenic view. In 1950, the hotel and the city began to suffer as highways started to push people and businesses to the suburbs. The hotel was in need of maintenance and repair, and its appeal began to diminish. In 1982, the Saint Paul business community realized the importance of the hotel once again. Piece by piece, the 254 room hotel was redesigned, restored and completed. Today, guests continue to experience the historic European charm and elegance reminiscent of the bygone golden era.

The Saint Paul has hosted Presidents and entertainment icons as well as royalty, heads of State, business moguls, wealthy aristocrats, musicians and movie stars... Since 1910 countless famous (and a few infamous) figures have chosen to stay at The Saint Paul Hotel.

Erie County Savings Bank

It was built in 1893 on the site of the former First Presbyterian Church. The 9-story Richardsonian Romanesque building was the main branch of the three branch bank and was located in the heart of the commercial district of downtown Buffalo. At the time, Niagara Street continued from the northeast, through Niagara Square, and terminated on Main Street where the bank was located.

After the bank closed and the other office tenants moved out, the building was scheduled for demolition. It was destroyed in 1968 as part of a revitalization effort to improve downtown commerce. In the process, the portion of Niagara Street the banked fronted upon was also closed off, destroying the radial street pattern laid out by Joseph Ellicott.

In place of the bank building is currently Main Place Tower, home to several IT businesses. Where Niagara Street was is the Main Place Mall, a mostly vacant mall containing only a small handful of stores and a food court.

National Bank Of Commerce, Norfolk, VA.

Virginia Club Building, Norfolk, Virginia
The Empire Building, New York City
Location: 71 Broadway at Rector Ave.
Built: 1895
Architect: Francis Kimball
Style: Neo-Classical

National Register of Historic Places
Empire Building
ID Number
NRHP Status
Listed In The National Register
Certification Date
Level of Significance

Architect Francis Kimball, a pioneer in the design of steel-skeleton-frame skyscrapers, created a boldly detailed structure with a triumphalarch entry. The building was the Headquarters of the United States Steel Company from its establishment by J.P. Morgan in 1901 until 1976. The building was converted to apartments in 1997. It is NOT open to the general public.

Times Building

The Times Square Building
229 W43, bet. Seventh and Eighth Aves. 1 Times Square
Built: 1903
Architects: 1903-1905-Eidlitz & MacKenzie1963- Smith, Smith, Haines, Lundberg & Waehler1975- Gwathmey Siegel

Upon completion in 1904, the 25 story skyscraper, at 395 feet was acknowledged the second tallest building in the world. As The Times Tower made its presence known, the surrounding area was renamed Times Square which even then with its Broadway theaters and New Year's Eve celebrations (also started by the NY Times) began to become the 'town square' of Manhattan.

Bought in 1963 by the Allied Chemical, the building's facade underwent two years later a major update by Smith, Smith, Haines, Lundberg & Waehler. The original intricate granite and terra-cotta decor was then replaced by concrete panels with integrated marble facing, forming a sheer wall on most of the tower portion and an arched window curtain wall on the wedge-shaped lower portion facing Times Square.

As Times Square is being completely rebuilt with a new neighborhood of 40 - 50 story skyscrapers, One Times Square, although only a 25 story building stands as a giant among its companions. "The building is as much as an international icon as it ever was," says Sherwood's Collins. "We have the added value for our customers that at one time or another, everyone with a television will see this building. either in the news on any television coverage of Times Square or from any movie about New York City. You can build anything you want around One Times Square, but that doesn't change what the building stands for or does."

Because of the extensive cost of renovating the building with central air conditioninf, the building currently has no tenants and is only used to hold dozens of colorful advertisements. Additionally, the operators of One Times Square have noted that the building makes more revenue as a collection of advertisements than it would full of tenants. Brian Turner, president of Sherwood Outdoor, a partner in the building that drops the ball every New Year's Eve, is quoted as saying, "Who needs pain-in-the-butt tenants when you've got the largest sign tower in the world?" In 2000, it was reported that the building's 26 signs bring in monthly rent checks ranging from $100,000 to $250,000.

Along with the opening of Walgreens this year, One Times Square will soon be the site of the largest LED sign in all of Times Square. Walgreens is erecting a 17,000 square foot digital LED sign that contains over 12 million LEDs which will dwarf what is considered to be the current largest LED sign in Times Square, the NASDAQ sign on Broadway. The Walgreens LED sign will run diagonally up both sides of the building while looping around the front and will weigh in at a whopping 250,000 pounds.

Waldorf-Astoria Hotel

The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel
Fifth Avenue and 33rd Street
Built: 1893
Architect: Henry J. Hardenberg (1847 - 1918)
Henry J. Hardenbergh (1847-1918)
Second Empire Baroque French Chateau
Stone and brick cladding, steel frame. Mansard roof.
Building Type: Hotel

The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel is a famously luxurious hotel in New York. It has been housed in two historic landmark buildings in New York City. The first, designed by architect Henry J. Hardenbergh, was on the Fifth Avenue site of the Empire State Building. The present building at 301 Park Ave in Manhattan is a 47 story, 625 ft. Art Deco landmark, designed by architects Schultze and Weaver and dating from 1931. The hotel is the flagship of the Waldorf-Astoria Collection, a chain of upscale hotels spun out of the Hilton Hotels and Conrad Hotels chains, as well as some new hotels.
The name, Waldorf=Astoria, now officially appears with a double hyphen, but originally the single hyphen was employed, as recalled by a popular expression and song, "Meet Me at the Hyphen."
The modern hotel has three American and classic European restaurants, and a beauty parlor located off the main lobby. Several luxurious boutiques surround the distinctive lobby, which has won awards for its restoration to the original period character. An even more luxurious, virtual "hotel within a hotel" in its upper section is known as The Waldorf Towers operated by Conrad Hotels & Resorts.
The hotel has its own railway platform as part of Grand Central Terminal, used by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Adlai Stevenson and Douglas MacArthur among others. An elevator large enough for Franklin D. Roosevelt's car provides access to the platform.

The original Waldorf-Astoria was used in the investigation into the Titanic sinking.

After a New York ticker-tape parade in his honor for winning four Olympic gold medals, Jesse Owens had to ride the freight elevator to attend a reception for him at the Waldorf-Astoria due to its segregation policies.

In 1954, Israeli statesman and archaeologist Yigael Yadin met secretly with the Syrian Orthodox Archbishop Mar Samuel in the basement of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel to negotiate the purchase of four Dead Sea Scrolls for Israel. Yadin paid $250,000 for all four.

The annual International Debutante Ball at the Waldorf-Astoria is held to formally introduce young high society women.

On May 1, 2004, the Waldorf-Astoria was the venue for the Grand Europe Ball, a historic black-tie charitable affair co-chaired by Archduke Georg of Austria-Hungary which celebrated the Enlargement of the European Union.

Heyworth Building, Chicago Ill.

Heyworth Building
29 E. Madison Street
Year Built: 1904
Architect: D. H. Burnham & Co. (Frederick P. Dinkelberg, design associate)

Date Designated a Chicago Landmark:
August 30, 2000

The building was constructed in 1904 by the architectural firm of Burnham and Root under the commission of Otto Young, a real estate investor and wholesale jeweler. It received its name from the son in law of Otto Young, Lawrence Heyworth, who also supervised construction of the building.

Like many other buildings along Wabash Avenue, the Heyworth historically housed watchmakers, jewelers, and associated businesses. This structure was one of the final buildings designed by Frederick P. Dinkelberg at the firm before administration was turned over to Ernest Robert Graham.

The Heyworth stands 19 stories tall with a gross square footage of 256,000 square feet (23,800 m2). Its style strays from the typical designs of Burnham and Root, appearing more rigid and geometrical than their other works done in a classical style. It combined the Chicago School's structurally expressive character with decorative appearance common in traditional masonry architecture. The tapestry-like ornament of the building pairs well with the ornamentation designed by Louis Sullivan on the adjacent Carson Pirie Scott building. The Heyworth is also noted for its intact finely crafted decorative cornice, which is an uncommon feature among the other commercial buildings of Chicago. The building was designated a Chicago Landmark on August 30, 2000.

It was designed by Frederick P. Dinkelberg, an important architect working for one of the largest and most influential architectural firms in the United States in the early 1900s. Other buildings by Dinkelberg include the Railway Exchange Building in Chicago and New York's Flatiron Building. In addition, one of Chicago's finest historic storefronts, designed in 1917 for O'Connor & Goldberg Shoes, remains at 23 E. Madison St.

The building was provided an $11 million renovation in 2001. As part of the renovation, the facade was cleaned and the famous cornice was rebuilt after having undergone a stripping in years past. It is currently the home of MacCormac College in Chicago and to the Center for Economic Progress.

Republic Building, Chicago Ill.

The Republic Building
201-209 South State Street
Built: 1905
Status: Destroyed in 1961

Architect: William Holabird
Born Sept. 11, 1854, Amenia Union, N.Y., U.S.died July 19, 1923, Evanston, Ill.
The Republic Building (Chicago, begun 1905), one of Holabird's best 20th-century buildings, was demolished in 1961.

Floor Count 19
Building Uses - office
Structural Types - highrise

Fisher Building, Chicago Ill.

The Fisher Building
343 S. Dearborn St.
Year Built: 1896
North Addition, 1907
Architect: Burnham & Co.; Peter Weber, addition
Date Designated a Chicago Landmark:
June 7, 1978

A 20-story, 275 foot tall neo-Gothic landmark building in the Loop area of Chicago. Commissioned by paper magnate Lucius Fisher, the original building was completed in 1896 by D.H. Burnham & Company with an addition latter added in 1907.
Currently owned and managed by Village Green Management Company, the building houses apartments on floors 3-20 and commercial stores on the 1st and 2nd floors. At the time of its completion, the building was one of two buildings in Chicago that was 18 stories tall, the other being the Masonic Building. To this day, the Fisher Building is the oldest 18 story building in Chicago that has not been demolished. The Masonic Temple, while taller and older, was demolished in 1939. x
Though a project of D.H. Burnham & Company, the design of the original structure was Charles Atwood. In 1906, an addition on the northern side of the building raised it from 18 to 20 stories. A former employee of the Burnham firm, Peter J. Weber, designed and oversaw the building's addition which was completed in 1907.
The Fisher Building features terra-cotta carvings of various aquatic creatures including fish and crabs. In addition, there are eagles, dragons, mythical creatures depicted on the facade as well.

Masonic temple, Chicago Ill.

Chicago Street Scene - 1908

Bush Temple of Music

Bush Temple of Music, at
100 West Chicago Ave.
Chicago, Ill.

Built in 1901 as the headquarters and showroom of the Bush and Gerts Piano Company, one of Chicago’s leading piano companies. Designed by architect J.E.O. Pridmore, the building is an example of the importance of piano manufacturing and sales during the late 19th and early 20th centuries when Chicago was the leading piano manufacturing center in the world.

The building is a rare large-scale example of French Renaissance Revival-style architecture, an unusual style in both Chicago and the United States. The building’s design and decorative details are unique examples of the historic revival style favored by Chicagoans in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The building was designated a Chicago Landmark on June 27, 2001.

Grand Central Station, Chicago Ill.

Grand Central Station
Harrison and Fifth Ave.

Built: 1890
Architect: Solon Spencer Beman
Status: Demolished in 1971

Grand Central Station was a passenger railroad terminal in downtown Chicago from 1890 to 1969. It was located at 201 W. Harrison Street in the south-western part of the Chicago Loop, the block bounded by between Harrison Street, Wells Street, Polk Street and the Chicago River. Grand Central Station was designed by architect Solon Spencer Beman for the Wisconsin Central Railway, and was completed by the Chicago and Northern Pacific Railroad.

Grand Central Station was eventually purchased by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, which used the station as the Chicago terminus for its passenger rail service, including its glamorous Capitol Limited to Washington, D.C. Major tenant railroads included the Soo Line, successor to the Wisconsin Central, the CGWR and the Pere Marquette Railway. The station was eventually shuttered in 1969 and torn down in 1971.
The waiting room of Grand Central Station had 26-foot ceilings; the floor was made of marble from Vermont.

Rail was in decline and the lightly-used terminal became even quieter in the years following World War II, with Grand Central serving 26 intercity passenger trains, down from nearly 40 at its busiest. Passenger trains were dropped and service was curtailed, and by 1956 the Chicago Great Western, which as late as 1940 had run six trains per day in and out of Grand Central had stopped operating passenger service into Chicago altogether.

As a result, by 1963 only ten intercity trains remained, of which six were operated by the Baltimore and Ohio. The number of passengers that used the remaining service shrank proportionately: by 1969, the year the station closed, the station only served an average of 210 passengers per day.

The decline in passenger traffic at Grand Central was hardly an isolated occurrence. By the late 1960s, all six of Chicago's terminals witnessed sharply lower numbers of passengers and trains. However, due to its small size, its age and perceived obsolescence, Grand Central in particular was the target of a long-term political effort by the city government to encourage consolidation of passenger terminals in the south Loop. It was ultimately this political effort, which was reaching its zenith just as reduced passenger traffic created excess terminal capacity within the city, that sealed the fate of Grand Central, described in 1969 as "decaying, dreary, and sadly out of date."

This great building, complete with Vermont Marble flooring, Corinthian-style columns, stained-glass windows, a marble fireplace and a restaurant were torn down.

The land on the corner of Harrison and Wells, the lot on which the station itself stood, remains vacant. The site is currently a de facto dog park used by local residents, although outlines of platforms and building foundations hint at the lot's former use. In March 2008, CSX Transportation—the successor company to the B&O—sold the property to a Skokie Illinois based capital Group with the intent of finally redeveloping the site with mixed-use high-rise buildings.

The newly proposed development will most likely be a long-term project due to the early 2008 glut of newly constructed condos in the downtown market and the U.S. credit crisis.

More than thirty years after its destruction, Grand Central Station has only relatively recently been identified by local historians, railroad enthusiasts and architecture critics as "the queen of the city's old train stations". Author Carl W. Condit remarked that the station was "an important Chicago building even if it never received much recognition," architect Harry Weese bemoaned its "wanton destruction", and Ira J. Bach noted that when the terminal was demolished, "Chicago lost its greatest monument to the institution which had created it: the railroad."

Chicago Street Scene

Wayne Hotel, Detroit, Michigan

Utah Hotel, Temple & Tabernacle - Salt Lake City, Utah

Detroit Street Scene, Cadillac Square

Detroit City Hall, Detroit, Michigan

Maryland Theatre & Hotel - Baltimore, Maryland

Park Circle, Detroit Michigan

Features the Whitney Building, Statler Hotel and Tuller Hotel, circa 1919.

The Book-Cadillac Hotel

Detroit Chamber of Commerce - 1906

Fleming Building - Des Moines, Iowa

Observatory Building - Des Moines, Iowa