034B.jpg (81574 bytes) New York Architecture Images- Lower Manhattan



Emory Roth and Sons


55 WATER STREET , between Coenties and Old Slips




International Style II  


Height to roof: 209 metres


Office Building


This massive 56 storey building was the largest office building in the world when completed. It contains 278 800 square metres of office space. The building has vertical striping of windows on its upper floors, and horizontal striping on its lower floors.


In contrast to the counting houses across the street, this brick-clad skyscraper represents the most recent phase of commercial growth in New York. It reflects the increasing size and complexity of business in the city, and New Yorkers continuing desire for a harbor view. The world's largest private office building when built, this highrise illustrates some of the deficiencies of the new Zoning Resolution introduced in 1961 which replaced the 1916 Zoning law. Its tremendous bulk is due in part to allowances for greater height granted in exchange for the adjacent open space of Jeanette Park.
(3.6 million ft2)
New York, New York (1972)
53 stories
Emery Roth & Sons with Rob Peterson and Fox, Architects. Office of James Ruderman, Engineer. Uris Building Corporation, Developer. New Water Street Corporation, Current Owner.

When opened in 1972, 55 Water Street was the largest privately owned office building in the world; today, only the Pentagon, the World Trade Center and Sears Tower surpass it in rentable area. The building's massive bulk is an outgrowth of a 1959 urban renewal plan. The City proposed purchasing the blocks surrounding Water Street and demapping smaller cross streets to create a superblock large enough to accommodate a new home for the New York Stock Exchange. When the project collapsed, individual developers were offered the superblock site at 55 Water Street in return for providing a number of public amenities, including a plaza and the renovation of an adjacent park. The unusually large lot of 3.7 acres (162,000 ft2) spawned a complex that includes a 56-story tower and a 15-story annex. With floorplates of 60,000 ft2 in the tower and 30,000 ft2 in the annex, base floors are twice as big as the World Trade Center's.

Photo courtesy Office of James Ruderman.


Plaza at 55 Water Street
M. Paul Friedberg and Associates (1972)

This carefully landscaped if unwelcoming public space was built in order to capitalize on the provisions of the 1961 zoning allowances. By investing minimal effort in the creation of public plazas such as this one, developers and owners could add up to 20% more space to their buildings, thereby increasing financial returns. The difficulty of accessing and using this space can be understood as a display of cynicism towards the public.

Peregrine Falcons: Nature's Most Remarkable Flying Hunter
The Story of Jack & Jill

In 1999 a pair of Peregrine Falcons "Jack & Diane" ventured from the Bank of New York Building on Wall Street to the 14th floor of 55 Water Street, a 54 story building nestled into the Southern tip of Manhattan.

Peregrine Falcons mate for life and Jack & Diane had been joined in falcon matrimony since 1993, producing 19 young over the time span of the relationship. The male "Jack" was hatched and banded on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in 1990 and the female, "Diane" was found and banded by Chris Nadareski of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) after flying into a building on Wall Street and suffering from a wing fracture in 1998. The two love-birds nested and produced 3 young in 1998, 4 young in 1999 and 5 young in 2001. Unfortunately, Diane who is estimated to be 13 years of age, was found in lower Manhattan with a severely arthritic wing in late 2001 and is now in retirement at Cornell University. Jack, left behind with a heavy heart, has had to seek out companionship to weather the cold and blustery days of the Big Apple. Jack has since been joined by Jill. Jill, a new falcon on the scene, has been identified by staff at 55 Water Street and traced to a hacked bird (taught to fly with human aid) from Iowa (Carpenter Nature Center, banded July 25, 1992). We, at 55 Water, hope that you enjoy observing and share in our enthusiasm for these remarkable creatures.

The decline of the Peregrine began after several years of widespread applications of organo-chlorine pesticides (DDT) following WWII. DDT residues causing eggshell thinning altered the reproductive behavior of the falcons and resulted in death. By the early 1960's there were no breeding pairs left in the eastern U.S. down from an estimated 450 pairs. They were placed on both the Federal and State Endangered Species Lists in the early 1970's. Intensive endangered species ordinances were put into place and the species has remarkably recovered. There are 15 territorial pairs of which 13 bred successfully in 2001 in New York City on bridges and buildings. The falcons are drawn to the city by the cliff-like topography of high-rise buildings and by the plethora of food (pigeons, sparrows, starlings, etc.).

The Peregrine, coined nature's most remarkable flying hunter, cruises at speeds of 40 to 55 miles per hour and dives through the air at speeds of 200 mph for a midair attack. The falcon knocks the prey out with its talons, then swoops down to catch the falling bird. Prey that survive the mid-air whack are killed by a tooth-like projection in the upper jaw that dislocates the vertebrae of the prey. These birds, majestic in appearance and unmerciful in dealings with their prey, project an unusually powerful and primitive image in contrast with the cultivated skyline of New York. High above the busy streets of the city they add an air of history and evolutionary calm in a city ruled by hustle & bustle…an uncanny meeting of the epitome of civilization & unfettered nature.

Jack & Jill Have Triplets At 55 Water Street
Peregrine Falcons Can Be Seen On The Internet

Commissioner Christopher O. Ward of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced today that Jack and Jill are the proud parents of triplets. The Peregrine Falcon couple and their three daughters reside on the fourteenth floor of 55 Water Street, overlooking the East River near the southern tip of Manhattan. The family can be seen live at the nest on two Web sites: and

"We are pleased to report that DEP Wildlife Biologist, Christopher Nadareski, placed identification bands on the chicks yesterday and found them to be in perfect health," said Commissioner Ward. "Hatched from their eggs three weeks ago, the fuzzy chicks are developing feathers now and will be fledging from the nest within two-and-a-half to three weeks. The computer screen provides a great way to watch the parents bring food to the nest and observe the chicks' rapid development."

In 1993, a pair of Peregrine Falcons, Jack and Diane, established a nest site and raised several broods of young at the Bank of New York Building on Wall Street. The couple moved to 55 Water Street in 1999 and raised several more broods. Jack was born and banded in 1990 on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, while Diane's origins are unknown. Diane, estimated to be about 13 years old, was found in lower Manhattan, in 2001, with a severely arthritic wing and is now in retirement at Cornell University. Jill, a newcomer on the scene, met up with Jack in the fall of 2001 and has become his new life partner. Staff at 55 Water Street has been able to read a band on Jill's leg, and have traced her back to the Carpenter Nature Center in Iowa where she was banded in 1992. Peregrines mate for life, but readily find new partners when a mate dies or otherwise disappears from the territory.

After World War II, the widespread application of organo-chloride pesticides, primarily DDT, caused eggshell thinning and reproductive failure in Peregrine Falcons, as well as some other bird species, and Peregrines were extirpated from the eastern United States by the early 1960s. They have been making a remarkable recovery, but are still listed as Endangered Species in New York and some other eastern states.

Today, there are 15 territorial pairs of Peregrines Falcons and 12 active nest sites within the five boroughs of the City. 55 Water Street is the only one being televised on the Internet. Other sites include the Verrazano Bridge, the Throgs Neck Bridge, Riverside Church, New York Hospital, and the Brooklyn Bridge.

DEP, in cooperation with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, manages the Peregrine Falcon program in the metropolitan area. The program involves ensuring that nesting falcons have appropriate nesting boxes to prevent eggs and young from rolling off nests; inspecting the birds and their nests to ensure that they are free of disease; banding the birds so that their travels and lifetimes can be traced, maintaining records of the birds, and protecting them from human disturbance.

Commissioner Ward said, "We at DEP are particularly pleased that the management and staff of 55 Water Street have been so helpful in every respect, from installing cameras at the nest site to establishing the Internet connection, from providing materials for the nest box to keeping us informed on the birds activities.