New York Architecture Images-Brooklyn

Williamsburgh Savings Bank


Halsey, McCormack & Helmer, 


located at 1 Hanson Place, at the corner of Ashland Place, near the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, across from Atlantic Terminal Mall (despite the name it stands in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn rather than Williamsburg).




Art Deco  


512-foot, 34-story 


Bank, Office Building


Williamsburgh Savings 



  Photo- thanks to Denis Sagiev
The Williamsburgh Savings Bank, or One Hanson Place, is the tallest building in the borough of Brooklyn, New York City and a familiar Brooklyn landmark.

At 34 stories and 512 feet (156 m) tall, it is also the second tallest building on Long Island, and is among the tallest four-sided clock towers in the world. Built in 1927 by the architectural firm Halsey, McCormack and Helmer, it is located at 1 Hanson Place, at the corner of Ashland Place, near the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, across from Atlantic Terminal Mall. Despite the name it stands in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn rather than Williamsburg.

Originally the building was owned by the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, then later its parent, Republic National Bank, then, via a merger, HSBC. For years the building contained offices, notably dentists' offices; the New York Daily News once called it 'The Mecca of Dentistry'. Now HSBC has relocated across the street to 118 Flatbush Avenue. As of early 2006, Magic Johnson is converting the building to luxury condominiums.

The building is sometimes called "Willie" or "the Willie", short for its bank namesake. As a 1920s skyscraper comparable to those in Manhattan, but standing alone, it has been the subject of speculation and urban legends. It features a gilded copper dome; a (now closed) public observation deck with breathtaking, unobstructed views; carved lions, turtles and birds on the exterior; and a marble banking hall on the ground floor with 63-foot vaulted ceilings, 40-foot windows and elaborate mosaics.
The 'Willie' was built by the architectural firm Halsey, McCormack and Helmer from 1927-1929. It is 512 feet tall, and can be seen from Brooklyn housetops as far away as Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights. It is the tallest building in Brooklyn and one of the two tallest buildings on Long Island. Its four-faced clock was the largest in the world in 1929, and held the title until 1962, when it was surpassed by the clocks on the Allen Bradley Building in Milwaukee. The ground-floor banking room boasts a 63-foot ceiling, and windows overlooking Hanson Place are 40 feet high.

The crowning dome was built as a homage to the other Brooklyn Williamsburgh Bank building, on Broadway in Williamsburg (the bank has an h, the neighborhood does not). Since 1987, the two buildings have been a part of the Republic National Bank and subsequently, the Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation.

This building, located in Brooklyn, is the tallest building in Long Island.   It is 512 feet tall.  The building is topped off by a gilded copper dome.  Underneath the dome is one of the largest illuminated four-faced dial clocks in the world.  The first floor contains a large banking room:   112 feet wide, 73 feet deep, and 63 feet high.  The banking room is now operated by the Republic National Bank. 

  June 6, 2004 


An Icon on the Block 


Brooklyn's tallest building could soon become its hottest address. 

The 512-foot, 34-story Williamsburgh Savings Bank building, a Brooklyn icon whose gold-capped clock tower is visible for miles, is on the block, and bids are due Thursday. 

The winning bidder is likely to convert the landmarked building at 1 Hanson Place, near the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues, to luxury condos. 

Cushman & Wakefield's New York capital markets team is handling the sale for the tower's owner, HSBC Bank USA, according to Pamela Plehn, a vice president at the bank. 

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company


The New York Post 


November 15, 2004 -- EXCLUSIVE 

Brooklyn's tallest building is set to become a luxury residential tower, The Post has learned. 

The Williamsburg Bank Building, whose gold-topped clock tower crowns the borough's skyline, is in contract to be sold to the Dermot Co., sources said. 

The 512-foot, 34-story structure is likely to undergo an expensive conversion into more than 180 residential units. They are expected to go on the market in 2006. 

The 75-year-old landmark was one of the most sought-after Brooklyn properties since the sale of Board of Education building last year, but its price and likely exorbitant conversion costs caused many potential developers to back off. 

The sale was handled by Cushman & Wakefield for HSBC, which has owned the building in recent years. It was unclear how much it sold for, but one source described it as "massively expensive." 

"It's the hub of the borough," said Howard Pitsch, a 22-year resident of Fort Greene and the former chair of the Fort Greene Association, which was founded in the 1970s as a historical preservation group. "What's amazing is that it was started during the Depression, when hopes were so high for Brooklyn to be a major city. And with Brooklyn coming back, there are those hopes again." 

Since 1929, the building has towered over every other in the borough, but now finds itself at a crossroads, with massive development plans under way all around it. 

The most significant of those plans is a $2.5 billion commercial and residential development across the street, including an NBA arena for the New Jersey Nets. 

That some of these plans threaten to dwarf the bank building has been a particular sticking point for some activists. 

"One of the interesting things about the tower is that it's been the tallest building in Brooklyn for over three generations," Pitsch said. "Now, as we face the prospect of taller buildings, people object. But if that tower was not there today, would they object to it being built?"