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On This Day in History, March 2: Brooklyn’s Most Iconic Building Receives Landmark Status

On March 2, 1978, the Williamsburgh Savings Bank was granted landmark status. Now known as One Hanson Place (the building’s address), the building was designed by Halsey, McCormack & Helmer and opened in 1929. The architects chose a Romanesque style for this 512-foot high structure with its gold domed cap and illuminated four-faced clock, which was the world’s largest at the time it was built.

Breathtaking views of much of Brooklyn and beyond can be seen from the top floors. The builders hoped in vain that its central location on Brooklyn’s Times Square (Yes, Brooklyn had its own Times for many years, named for a newspaper that was bought out by the Brooklyn Eagle in 1937) would attract business away from the civic center a mile away. Apparently the management of the Long Island Rail Road had the same opinion when they built their terminal around the corner.

Manhattan’s towering Chrysler and Empire State buildings were constructed at around the same time. In grandeur, the Bowery Savings Bank in Manhattan, opposite Grand Central Station, resembles the Williamsburgh Savings Bank.

This photo shows the building during construction in May 1928.   Photo by H.W. Hinson/  courtesy of the Brooklyn Historical Society

The photo below shows the site of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank tower in July 1927, before the tower was built. Ground had already been broken for construction and a fence surrounded the site. Several buildings had been demolished to make way for the tower. Photos by H.W. Hinson/  courtesy of the Brooklyn Historical SocietyOne Hanson Place was the tallest building in Brooklyn from the time it was built until 2009, when the The Brooklyner was completed on Lawrence Street in Downtown Brooklyn. That 51-story apartment building now has the distinction of being Brooklyn’s tallest, though One Hanson remains Brooklyn’s most iconic and recognizable building.

For many years, the building was filled with an extraordinary number of dentists’ offices, and some natives, such as Borough President Marty Markowitz, knew it as “the dentist building.”

Now many of the floors have now been converted into luxury condos.

In January 2010, the landmarked ground floor lobby of the building was launched as an events space run by Skylight Group. The ground floor lobby also hosts the popular Brooklyn Flea on weekends.

March 2, 2012 - 10:41am


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