Probably the world's very first voluntarily demolished skyscraper, the 22 storey Gillender Building. When built in 1897 it was the fourth tallest building in New York City. As a testment to the incredible growth of NYC, demolition of the Gillender Building began in 1910! One of the tallest buildings in NYC had only stood for 12 years! It would be replaced by the 41 storey Bankers Trust Building.
View of the Gillender Building, erected in 1897, looking northwest from the intersection of Wall Street and Nassau Street. The Gillender, along with its neighbor to the north and west, the Stevens Building, were soon to be demolished to make way for the Bankers Trust Building. Also in this view are the Astor Building and Hanover National Bank, razed in 1931 for the construction of the Bankers Trust Building annex.
While the protective staging at the sidewalk and street is not complete, demolition has commenced on the belvedere. A wire mesh has been installed over Wall Street to protect passersby, while allowing sunlight to reach the street.
While the assembled plot for the new Bankers Trust building was sizable, the location in the busy financial district meant demolition of the Gillender Building the adjacent L-shaped Stevens Building was a process of careful and comparatively slow disassembly. Here, protective staging has been erected over Wall Street and Nassau Street to provide a staging platform for the removal of debris and to protect passersby. At the top of the Gillender a cantilevered platform has been erected to allow mechanics to dismantle the building from the top down. By May 5, 1910, when the photo was taken, the domed belvedere had already been dismantled.
Removal of the masonry at the top of the Gillender Building has left the steel frame exposed. Economic development of lots as narrow as this one was made possible by the use of a full steel or wrought-iron frames. Earlier structural technologies--cast-iron construction used in many loft buildings and masonry perimeter bearing walls with a cast-iron cage within used for many early commercial office buildings--required the use of thick masonry walls at the lower stories or were incapable of resisting the lateral loads imposed by wind. Chutes from the interior are visible on the Nassau Street elevation of the Gillender and Stevens Buildings. Demolition debris from both the interior and exterior was removed through the interior of the building to minimize the amount of exterior scaffolding required and to reduce the side effects of demolition work (particularly noise and dust) on the busy commercial district.
In the five days since the previous photo (B16280) was taken, the roof and masonry gable of the Stevens Building along Wall Street have been removed. The exterior stone cladding has been removed from another story of the Gillender Building. The group of men at the right stand adjacent to one of the holes in the protective staging that was used to drop debris into trucks waiting on Nassau Street.
At the Stevens Building, demolition is proceeding rapidly. Its low rise and its construction contribute to the speed with which the demolition contractor has been able to dismantle it. The relatively low height means that demolition debris does not need to be moved as far from its position on the building to the staging. Both the Stevens and the Gillender Buildings are "clad" in masonry: at the Stevens the cladding is also part of the main structural system. As the masonry is removed at the Stevens its structure is simultaneously demolished; at the Gillender as the masonry is removed the structural system is exposed and readied for demolition. At the Gillender, the demolition contractor has started to remove the steel structural frame at what had been the belvedere. A new level of staging is being erected just below the top of the tall arcade on Nassau Street, which will allow dismantling of the masonry to progress downward.
The demolition contractor has focused on removing masonry cladding from the Gillender Building; this photo was taken on a Thursday, three days after the previous photo (B16303), and demolition of the Stevens Building has not progressed. Now that a large amount of the masonry cladding on the Gillender Building has been removed, the contractor has spent several days preparing to increase the speed of demolition of the steel structure. The stiff legged derrick at the 11th floor within the middle bow window on the Nassau Street elevation of the Gillender Building was installed earlier in the week. There are now several derricks visible on the structure. Masonry debris continues to be removed through the interior chutes, though the longer steel or iron members are more efficiently removed whole by picking them from the frame with the stiff legged derricks.
Demolition of the Stevens Building has resumed; the contractor has completed the removal of the three upper stories and the roof. At the upper stories of the Gillender Building dismantling of the steel frame has progressed markedly. The floor system and floor beams have been removed at the Wall Street facade, leaving the columns at the uppermost tier of the structural frame fully exposed. Loads on the columns at the upper floors were considerably less than those at lower floors. This difference is graphically revealed by the relative slenderness of the columns at the upper tier; these columns were fabricated from a single rolled section while those at the lower tiers were built-up from several rolled sections. Also evident in this photo is the fact that the construction at the bow windows of the Nassau Street arcade is not masonry; the cast iron or sheet metal has been left in place and will be removed with the stiff-legged derricks.
All that remains of the Stevens Building? Wall Street facade is the first and second stories and a single bay of the third floor. A mechanic, visible on a long ladder above the roof of the Stevens Building along Nassau Street prepares to remove the sheet metal flue at the south wall of the Hanover National Bank Building to the north. At the Gillender Building demolition of the masonry and steel frame continues. In this photo the unique qualities of the construction of the steel frame is becoming evident. The frame consists of a line of six columns along the east and west walls of the building; there are no intermediate column lines. The columns are connected east and west by a series of girders and trusses. North and south they are connected by spandrel beams and spandrel trusses. The east-west spanning girders and trusses pick up the beams that support the floor system.
Bracing tall, narrow buildings has always been a particular challenge to structural engineers. The architectural program and design demand that the greatest amount of space possible be given to open offices within the building and that windows at the facades (and doors in the interior) not be crossed or compromised by structural members. These constraints generally eliminate the most efficient means of bracing the structure?ross bracing extending from one column to the next and from one floor to both the floor above and below?xcept at the core of the building. At the Gillender Building the core?levator shaft and egress stair shaft?ay have incorporated cross-bracing, but additional bracing would have been required to resist lateral or wind loads at portions of the building far from the elevator core. The deep trusses and the heavy, built-up columns visible in this and subsequent photos are probably part of the system of bracing that was developed and installed in lieu of cross-bracing.
Only a single bay of the Stevens Building' Wall Street facade remains; on the Nassau Street side its roof has been removed and a crew of mechanics is visible at what was once the sixth floor. Masons are also visible at the seventh floor of the Gillender Building, where they have removed the balustrades at the masonry balconies and are proceeding to remove the stone cladding at the facade. Huge piles of debris--both masonry and steel--are visible on the protective staging over Wall Street.
Demolition continues and the pile of debris has grown enormous. The materials appear to have been separated by type, suggesting that the steel was picked up by a carter who was taking the material to be recycled. Masonry was typically used as landfill.
The demolition contractor has erected three stiff legged derricks on the protective staging to lift the large pieces of steel down through the holes in the staging to trucks waiting below. The white spot just above the Nassau Street entrance to the Gillender Building (curved stone pediment just above the level of the protective staging) is probably steam from one of the power-winches at the derricks.
The only masonry that remains on the site is that on the lower two floors of the Stevens Building Nassau Street facade and that piled on the protective staging.
Approximately six weeks after demolition commenced no trace remains--above ground--of the two buildings that once stood on the northwest corner of Wall and Nassau Streets. The contractor has started to dismantle the protective staging at Wall Street.