Richard Morris Hunt's Tribune Building
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Tribune Building 
Richard Morris Hunt, architect 
Jpg: Library of Congress

Located at 154 Printinghouse Square, New York, New York; or the northeast corner of Nassau and Spruce Street.  It was part of a group of successful 19th century newspaper buildings fronting Printinghouse Square and was one of the first buildings with an elevator.[1]  

Up to this time buildings were limited by how many stories people were willing to climb (usually no more than four) but the the ever growing concentration of the urban centers and the escalating prices of the underlying land (from supply and demand forces) the need to go higher was pressing. With the advent of elevators they could go higher -- to a point. Like the flying buttresses of the Victorian Gothic cathedrals before them, there was a limit to how high these buildings of stone and brick could reach. Not so much in the physical limitations but in terms of economics. As a building grow higher and taller, a building's lower floors of stone or brick have to become thicker and bulkier in order to carry the weight of the ever rising upper floors. The thicker walls made the lower floors less functional and more costly to construct. At some point the law of diminishing returns would kick in and make it uneconomically feasible to go any higher. In terms of the Tribune Building, you can sort of see the thick walls around the window openings at the first level, and you can imagine how thick some of the interior load baring walls would have to be. What's not quite as noticeable is the walls of the floors become less thick as you go higher. 

Steel would be the materiel that would bring on the sky scrapers, and solve the problem of load baring walls. In fact, with a steel frame,  the exterior walls could be as thin as glass, but that was still a few years to come.[2] 

The Tribune building was razed in 1966. Pace Collage now owns the site. 

  • Notes:
    • 1) Information from Library of Congress
    • 2) John McCrae, Reflection of History in Construction Material; Real Property Perspectives, American Society of Appraisers; Spring 1995, pp. 2-7
    • See more on Richard Morris Hunt

    By:  Natasha Wallace
    Copyright 1998-2002 all rights reversed
    Created 12/28/2000
    Updated 3/18/2002