Manhattan Mogul

WOOLWORTH

From humble farm origins, Frank Woolworth built a global retail empire and commissioned the world's tallest skyscraper.

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The former clerk tracked sales figures from each of his hundreds of five-and-dime stores and wrote regular newsletters for his managers, rewarding successful performance with bonuses and corporate shares. He also mandated a uniform store layout and logo.

The massive building at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, trimmed in creamy terracotta with accents of blue, green, and gold paint, was once taller than anything in the world but the Eiffel Tower. It boasted twenty-seven acres of leasable space, enough offices for twelve thousand people. Woolworth paid for it in cash and made his money back within a year.

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New York’s most stunning office lobby features golden marble walls, vaulted ceilings richly decorated with murals and mosaics, and a charming coterie of carved grotesques that depict the men involved in the construction.