Pict0428.jpg (129781 bytes) New York Architecture Images- Lower Manhattan

Merchants' Exchange (now Regent Wall Street Hotel) Landmark


Isaiah Rogers, architect. Addition and interior redesign 1904-1910; McKim, Mead & White, architects.


55 Wall Street at William Street.




Renaissance Revival






When the Merchants' Exchange burned down in the great fire of 1835, the Boston architect Isaiah Rogers, was called down to create a bigger and better exchange, with a columned, blue granite facade. Although the Exchange failed at mid-century, the empty building was a logical home for the expanding customs collection for the port of New York. The Merchants' Exchange became the Customs House until 1907, when the National City Bank purchased it and asked the architectural firm of McKim, Meade and White to double the building for their new headquarters. It is was the Regent Wall Street Hotel until 2004.

(Former) NATIONAL CITY BANK BUILDING INTERIOR, 55 Wall Street (aka 53-57 Wall Street, 7-29 Exchange Place, 2-4 Hanover Street, and 34-40 William Street), Manhattan. 

Landmarks Preservation Commission. Designated January 12, 1999; LP-1979


The interior of 55 Wall Street was designed in a classical Roman style on a grand scale, to be the headquarters of the National City Bank, one of the country's oldest and most important financial institutions. In 1904, the bank hired the preeminent firm of McKim, Mead & White to remodel and create an addition for a prominent earlier building by Isaiah Rogers. The original structure had been constructed in 1836-42 in a dignified Greek Revival style as the Merchants' Exchange, and later housed the Stock Exchange and then the U.S. Custom House. When this later institution outgrew these quarters, the building was purchased by National City Bank. The bank president, James Stillman, saw the reuse and remodeling of this renowned edifice for the bank's headquarters as a statement of his company's prestige. Originally only four stories high, the granite building was fronted by twelve enormous columns. McKim, Mead & White added four more stories and completely redesigned the interior, creating an immense, cruciform-plan banking hall with offices hidden in each of the four corners. The construction, which lasted from 1908 to 1910 resulted in an imposing room which extends under a sixty-foot-high central dome, with monumental Corinthian columns which support an elegant entablature encircling the space. The vast scale of the intersecting barrel vaults and tall, arched window openings is juxtaposed by elegant design details such as the luxurious gray marble on the floors and walls, the coffered ceiling, and the delicate mezzanine railings, all of which contribute to the grandeur and dignity of the room. The exterior of this building was designated a New York City Landmark in 1965.

Regent Wall Street, Ballroomby Manos Angelakis.

55 Wall Street is a building with a rich history. Now designated a historical  landmark, the building was designed by Isaiah Rogers in the Greek Revival style with an exterior colonnade of Ionian columns. Construction was finished in 1842  and the Merchant’s Exchange was the major tenant. Later on, the New York Stock Exchange called 55 Wall Street home, for more than a dozen years.

In 1863 the US government leased and later purchased the building to be used as the New York Customs House. In 1899 the building was sold to the National City Bank who renovated the original structure and added four stories in addition to reconstructing a magnificent main  entrance, now used as a ballroom, in the Corinthian style.

In January 2000, 55 Wall Street, now named The Regent Wall Street, became the first luxury hotel in New York’s financial district -- the street that is the financial epicenter of the world. Operated by Regent International Hotels, a company that provides five-star hospitality while maintaining the individual personality of each of its properties, the hotel is decorated in a contemporary interpretation of Italian design. The 144 rooms and suites all have high ceilings, an attribute rarely found in modern- construction properties, are  decorated in velvets, chenille and silk damask, and boast views of Wall Street  or overlook an interior courtyard (if your suite overlooks Wall Street, the view  West to Trinity Church is indeed beathtaking). They all have marble bathrooms,  with a soaking tub for two and separate shower, beautiful terry bathrobes and  slippers and a full range of personal care products. The suites feature Bvlgari amenities.

Having already experienced the hospitality of
The Regent Bangkok and The Regent Beverly Wilshire in Los  Angeles, I thought it was time to take a look at a luxury property located in my  back yard, so to speak. The “Been there, Done that!” package was an excellent  opportunity to examine this new property.

The  price is certainly right. While rack rates are $545 to $750 for a single or double room and $900 to $1,900 for a suite, the
Been there, Done that! package  -- a summer offering available through August-- is priced at $200 plus tax, per night for a Deluxe room with Friday or Saturday arrival. For an additional $75,  guests may upgrade to an Executive suite. The hotel offers access to a 24-hour a-day health club with state-of-the-art equipment. The package can be combined  with a number of off-site luxury tours, subject to availability and minimum two person participation. The tours start at $750 per person and include a private vehicle, luxury tour guide, tour (cruise), lunch, taxes and gratuities. They range from New York harbor cruises and ethnic food tours, to gallery hopping.

We had drinks and diner at the 55 Wall Restaurant. Located on the second floor of the building, the restaurant uses the front colonnade terrace on Wall  Street for al fresco dining (Wall Street, a madhouse during the working day is almost deserted on weekends). Presided by Executive Chef John Halligan, the cuisine is American fusion with Asian and Mediterranean overtones. My wife started with Golden Gazpacho, an unusual offering based on yellow tomatoes and lump crabmeat, and I had the Chilled Asparagus, a mix of tender green and white  spears with lemon confit, friseé and endive salad and dried Monterey Jack cheese. Our main courses were Roasted Monkfish Tail for her, with crawfish grits, asparagus and morels, and Grilled Lamb T-Bones for me, with mustard-chive  spatzle and homemade caraway sauerkraut. Both main dishes were very well  prepared but, frankly, hardly exciting. I guess that we have gotten a bit jaded but something similar could be had in any of the good restaurants that dot New York City. What was outstanding was the dessert. We both had the Crispy  Bittersweet Chocolate Mille Feuilles, with roasted apricot and Beaume de Venise  sorbet, a truly exceptional offering. We also tasted the Summer Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumb Tartlette, with fromage blanc sorbet and red wine reduction. When  we retired for the evening, a platter of milk chocolate and bitter chocolate truffles, fresh strawberries dipped in chocolate, chocolate pralines and roasted apricot covered minitarts was waiting in our suite. We both made sure there was  nothing left by morning. A native of France, Laurent Carratie the pastry chef,  is very talented and his creations are truly outstanding.

All in all we  found The Regent Wall Street to be an exceptional luxury hotel, with nice and helpful staff, located at the perfect spot for the audience it is intended.  Captains of industry and internet millionaires take over the hotel during the week when occupancy is almost 90%. But on the weekend, it is a place where you  can pamper and reward yourself for all the hard work of the month or year passed. It’s a reward for putting up with clueless bosses and cranky colleagues.  It’s a reward for living in or near New York City.

Carpe diem --seize the moment, you are worth it!