Early Skyscrapers in New York City

19th Century


The rise of skyscrapers in New York City started in the late 1860s with the construction of buildings with more than six floors, equipped with hydraulic passenger elevators. Most of them were built by insurance companies, newspapers or hotels.

In 1868, the Grand Hotel was completed with eight above-ground stories (including a two-story mansard roof). The Equitable Life Building was completed on Broadway, in 1870, with seven above-ground stories and 130 feet high. Gilsey House was completed in 1871 with eight floors and 125 feet high. About 1872, the Old Mutual Life Building was completed, with seven above-ground stories plus a clock tower. The eight-story Windsor Hotel opened in the same year. The eight-story Bristol Hotel opened about 1875.

In February 1875, the ten-story Western Union Telegraph Building was completed. In April, the Tribune Building, opened its doors. In May, the same year, the 9-story Evening Post Building, corner of Fulton Street, was completed. It was, however, much smaller than the previous two.

The 12-story Hotel Chelsea opened its doors in 1884 with just 140 feet high. In 1884, the Washington Building (One Broadway) opened, an office building on the historic site of George Washington's headquarters in 1776. It was expanded in 1887 to reach 12-story. In 1889, the new 13-story NY Times Building was completed. Next to it is the 11-story Potter Building, completed earlier in 1886. In 1890, The World Building, was completed in Park Row with 18 floors and 308 feet high. In 1893, the Hotel Netherland was completed with 17 stories, claiming to be the tallest hotel in the world. In the following years, several high-rise hotels were erected in the City.

The Manhattan Life Building, completed in 1894, with 18 floors and 348 feet high, became the tallest building in New York City. In 1895, American Tract Society Building was completed with 23 floors. In 1899, the Park Row Building was completed with 29 floors high. It was the tallest building in New York City at the end of the 19th century.



Antique photos of NYC




American Tract building NYC



NY Early Skyscrapers



Wall Street

The spires of Trinity Church was the tallest structure in New York until 1888, when it was surpassed by the spires of the St. Patrick's Cathedral.



NYC Skyscrapers


The Newspaper Row seen from City Hall Park (vintage post card, about 1897), a place of some of the early skyscrapers in New York City, like Tribune (1875), NY Times (1889), World Building (1890) and American Tract Society Building (1895).


Early Skyscrapers


New York Skyline images


Adelphi Hotel


Tribune building


NY Hotels


New York City 19th century


Manhattan Life Building


Gillender Building


Boreel Building


Western Union Telegraph Building


Hotel Chelsea


Old Mutual Life Building


Old Waldorf-Astoria


Columbia Building


Mail and Express Building


Gilsey House NY


American Surety Building


Tower Building


Old Skyscrapers Broadway


Early skyscrapers in New York City were built along Park Row and Broadway in the 1870s (fragment of a 1875 illustration by Charles Parsons and Lyman Atwater, with additional text).


Times Skyscraper


74 Broadway


Printing House Square


Park Row images



Decker Building



Early Skyscrapers in New York City

19th Century


Saint Paul Building


World Building


Copyright © Geographic Guide - Antique photographs of NYC.


Washington Building



Grand Hotel


Equitable building old




Historic Buildings