City Structures: Manhattan Municipal Building

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
November 15, 2011 Updated: November 15, 2011
Epoch Times Photo
The Manhattan Municipal Building towers 25 stories high, with an additional 15 stories on the center spire. (Amal Chen/The Epoch Times)

Date Built: 1909–1914 Architect: William M. Kendall /McKim, Mead & White

Epoch Times Photo
A close up of reliefs on the Manhattan Municipal Building. (Amal Chen/The Epoch Times)

NEW YORK—In the late 1800s, city agencies outgrew City Hall and rented scattered offices between Wall Street and Midtown. A competition was held to design a building that would be able to house all the agencies. The Manhattan Municipal Building remains one of the largest government buildings in the world.

It took more than five years to build the massive structure, with a price tag of $9 million, including the land. McKim, Mead & White was the largest architectural firm in the world at the time that also built the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., and a multitude of structures in New York, including Columbia University’s Morningside Campus and Penn Station.

It was the first building in New York City to incorporate a subway station (City Hall), and includes 33 elevators. 

Various sculptures and reliefs based on ancient lore, such as winged figures, cover the outside with a crown of spires and obelisks. Three of the sculptures, Civic Duty, Civic Pride, and Civic Fame, represent female personifications of the city: one has a child, another is receiving accolades from citizens, and the towering figure, three times life-size, bears a shield with the city coat of arms, laurel leaves, and a crown representing the five boroughs.

Towering 25 stories high, the Manhattan Municipal Building in Lower Manhattan is almost a century old and includes mixed architectural styles including Italian Renaissance and Roman.

Located at 1 Centre St., it is a designated New York City Landmark. More than 2,000 employees from a dozen municipal agencies have offices in nearly 1 million square feet in the building.

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Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.