In an unusual turn, one of the most “off-limits” of Manhattan Art Deco buildings is, or will soon be, open to the public. Well, parts of it, anyway.
If you follow New York Art Deco, you know that a typical progression is that buildings that were once corporate headquarters and therefore closed to the public get converted to residential use, making it even less likely you’ll ever see the inside unless you’re planning on moving in.
But now, one of the grandest and most private Art Deco skyscrapers, the Cities Service building at #70 Pine Street is slated to have, in addition to luxury apartments and a fitness center, shopping. And that means…public access (or very disappointing shopping.) I’m a few thousand miles from NYC, so I can’t verify this, but from what I read, the lobby is open.
Built in 1931-32 for the oil company Cities Service, the building was eventually purchased by insurance giant AIG who sold it in 2008. The building is notable for its height, its unusual double-decker elevators (abandoned years ago, but still a cool idea) and its unusual dual addresses – it’s also known as 60 Wall Tower.
There’s another thing; in addition to typical Art Deco stylistic touches, 70 Pine’s interior offers up unusual motifs from the natural world. Where one might expect to see burly men drilling for oil, or at least some chevrons (no pun intended and there are plenty of chevrons) the lobby features flowers, butterflies and spider lamps(!)
Now, I can’t confirm the place is currently open to the public but if I was anywhere nearby, I’d be over there in a New York minute. In the meantime, shown here are some photos I took in the 1980s. These shops are long gone but new ones should soon take their place.
For more on 70 Pine Street, its two addresses, double decker elevators and stunning 360 degree observation deck, see Daniel M. Abramson’s terrific Skyscraper Rivals.