If These Walls Could Talk – 55 Liberty Street

Liberty Tower at 55 Liberty Street, is one of many historic skyscrapers in downtown Manhattan that has worn the moniker of “tallest building in the world.”  Located at the northwest corner of Nassau Street and Liberty Street, this 33-story limestone tower was built as a commercial office building in 1909 and converted to residential apartments in 1979.

This storied building was one of the first in the Financial District to be re-positioned to residential usage.  Under the watchful eyes of architect Joseph Pell Lombardi, the structure was carved into 89 apartments of various shapes and sizes.  Lombardi himself took up residence in the former boardroom of Sinclair Oil. 

Built in Gothic Revival style, this landmarked property is adorned with whimsical terra cotta details, including welcoming alligators at the front entrance. Historically, the building’s past reads like a high school reader on American History.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt had a law office at 55 Liberty. The Teapot Dome scandal, involving Sinclair Oil, the building’s primary occupant for much of the century, was propagated within these walls. And a German spy ring operating out of the building was busted prior to World War I.

Entry to the building can take the first-time visitor by surprise.  Take the marble stairs upwards and you’re in the second floor restaurant.  Take the stairs downward and you’re going to enter the residential section of the building through an elaborate vault-like entry.  For a moment you wonder if you’re going to be locked in.

55 Liberty was declared a New York City Landmark in 1982 and soon thereafter the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Noteworthy neighbors include the Federal Reserve Building and 28 Liberty Street (formerly known as One Chase Manhattan Plaza), both of which are just across Nassau Street.

So if you like different and love a bit of history, 55 Liberty Street could be a building to watch.  While the pricing is below the average of like-kind co-ops, the monthly maintenance costs are higher than the norm.  The average price per square foot over the past two years (2018-2019) has been about $875. View full details on Linecity.com.

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