Ralph Walker Communications Buildings
Former Western Union Building,
60 Hudson Street, Voorhees, Gmelin & Walker, 1928-30
Former Long Distance Building of the American Telephone & Telegraph Company,
32 Sixth Avenue
McKenzie, Voorhees & Gmelin, 1918; expansion: Voorhees, Gmelin & Walker, 1930-32
Former New York Telephone Company Building (also known as the Barclay-Vesey Building),
140 West Street, Ralph Walker of McKenzie, Voorhees & Gmelin, 1923-27
Ralph Walker designed a series of functional, but stylistically innovative communications buildings in the 1920’s, including these three in Tribeca. With the rise of the telephone, communications companies needed to increase their visibility with buildings to reflect modern technology. The Art Deco-inspired buildings feature asymmetrical massing with setbacks to comply with the 1916 Zoning Resolution, patterned brickwork and dramatic curtain-like entrances. The decidedly modernistic skyscraper at 60 Hudson Street was built for the Western Union Telegraph Company, which sought to reestablish its corporate identity after years of domination by the American Telephone & Telegraph Company. It features a graduated color scheme, with brick that lightens as it ascends toward the upper stories. The lobby of the AT&T Long Lines Building is worth a visit to see its ornate mosaic ceiling. Walker’s first major work in New York City, the Barclay-Vesey Building features a Guastavino-vaulted arcade along the sidewalk on Vesey Street. Located immediately adjacent to the World Trade Center site, it miraculously sustained only minor damage on September 11, 2001.
Each site is a New York City Individual, and Interior Landmark.