As I’ve recounted in prior postings, the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam which became New York after the war between Great Briton and the Netherlands originated on the southern tip of the island of Manhattan, it is the oldest part of the city. The age of the area which was organized prior to the grid pattern of streets that dominates the rest of the island which really only has Broadway traversing diagonally across the pattern, explain why it streets cross and turn sometimes without logic; remember that Broadway was in fact an original Lenape Indian trail. I enjoy walking this part of the city, without the grid pattern, you end up in a different direction before you know it. It is just east of the aforementioned Broadway at the intersection of Liberty Street and Liberty Place that one encounters 65 Liberty Street what today is the International Commercial Bank of China. However as captured on this image on the buildings restored façade, etched in the stone above its six two story columns are carved “1768 Chamber of Commerce 1901” which reveals the edifice’s original purpose. Opening in 1902 though its cornerstone was actually laid on November 8, 1901 (which is what the 1901 stands for) and it was a designed by James B. Baker during the City Beautiful Movement that spawned the architectural masterpieces such as the majestic entrance to the Manhattan Bridge that I posted previously
[ flic.kr/p/pqXEUq ]. The architect Baker’s design was French Renaissance Eclectic Style. What is captured in this image is the top of the building from Liberty Street, reminiscent of the Paris Opera House with large fluted columns, topped by a gently curved mansard copper clad roof with distinct ornate dormers which contained the the Assembly Hall where most of the gatherings for the Chamber of Commerce of New York State were held during its heyday.
What is the 1768 stand for? That is when a group of twenty New York City merchants met on April 5th at Bolton and Sigel’s Tavern (today Fraunces Tavern [ flic.kr/p/CcLpzj ]) to forge a mercantile union that would promote and protect their collective interests, which was initially called ‘The New York Chamber of Commerce and Industry”. Yes, it predated the American Revolutionary War and in 1770 was granted a royal charter from good old King George III himself, incorporating as “the Corporation of the Chamber of Commerce in the City of New York in America.” It survived the British occupation of New York City during the Revolutionary War as it was a divided organization, the Patriots left New York City when the Brits arrived, but the Loyalist remained and continued to hold meetings and transact business in the city. The organization grew, though for its first century it was a gypsy of sorts, moving from location to location. Initially meeting at Bolton and Sigel’s Tavern, in 1770 after receiving their royal charter it moved its home-base to the Royal Exchange. After the British evacuation in 1783, the organization moved to the Merchants’ Coffee House building where the following year they received a new charter reincorporating it as "the Corporation of the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York." A decade later in 1793 the organization migrated across the street to the Tontine Association. In 1827 the Chamber of Commerce took over the Merchants Exchange Building until the great New York City fire of 1835 found the organization moving to the Merchants Bank located on Wall Street. It was during this time the powerful Chamber of Commerce heavily pushed with it influence the building of the Erie Canal citing the interest of serving regional commerce which greatly contributed to the development of the ever growing New York City. The sphere of influence of the organization was far reaching during most of the 19th Century, expansion of New York City’s water & waste water system, the building of a rapid transit system for the city, even health initiatives like developing measures to protect New York during the cholera outbreaks of the 1890’s were championed by the visionary members of this group.
The organization continued to grow in power and influence at the turn of the 20th Century, and it was actually in 1897 that the Chamber of Commerce began a building fund to build a permanent and proper headquarters. After securing the location at 65 Liberty Street, they chose James B. Baker to design the building. The building would open in November of 1902 with an impressive list of guest attending the opening ceremony including sitting US President Theodore Roosevelt (a New York City native), former president Grover Cleveland (a Caldwell New Jersey native), the French & British Ambassadors, New York City Mayor Seth Low, the Consul Generals of Russia, Germany and Britan as well as several European Royals. The building was not completely finished at the opening; eventually in 1903 three donated statues were placed in the three spans between the fluted columns, statues of Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and De Witt Clinton. Then in 1921 architects Helmle & Corbett began a major remodeling which required that the building be closed for six months reopening in January of 1922. The organization remained in the magnificent white Vermont marble building until 1980; it being designated a New York City landmark in 1966 and National Historic Landmark in 1977. The Chamber of Commerce moved in with an affiliate organization, The New York City Partnership in 1980. In 2002 the two organizations merged into The Partnership for New York City and sadly that is where New York Chamber of Commerce ended its existence, which was amongst the oldest merchant organizations in the States.
Before the International Commercial Bank of China completely moved into the historic edifice in this image, extensive restoration was done by Haines Lundberg Waehler in 1991. The damage of acid rain and pollution had deteriorated the white marble façade of the building to the extent that it required 25,000 tons of white Vermont marble to accomplish the restoration. Sadly the three aforementioned statues of Hamilton, Jay and Clinton as well as a statue of Mercury were beyond repair when the restoration was completed in 1992.
Captured on Olympus E-5 using an Olympus Zuiko 12-60MM F2.8-4.0 SWD lens hand held processed with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.
Tagged: , NEWYORK , NEWYORKCITY , CHAMBEROFCOMMERCE , CHAMBEROFCOMMERCEOFNEWYORKSTATE , OLYMPUSE-5 , OLUMPUSZUIKO1260MMF2.84.0SWD , NYC