Certainly, 55 Liberty Street is a beautiful building – the base of the roof on the 28th floor is adorned with a menagerie of massive masonry eagles, lions, alligators, fish, gnomes, and assorted flora – but that beauty can quickly turn deadly. That was the case in 1993 when chunks of terra cotta broke loose from the skin of the 32-story, 80-unit co-op and plunged to the crowded sidewalk below.
Designed by Henry Ives Cobb, the free-standing terra-cotta structure was the tallest building in the world when it opened its doors in 1909. It served as offices for Sinclair Oil and other businesses until 1979, when it was converted to residential living. Two years later, it became a co-op. Now it is dealing with capital challenges, safety, and the ever-present memory of the past.
Co-op and condo board business broken down into bite-sized bits - 2 stories each week. Read now on all digital devices.