Proudly one of the original tenants in what is better known as the landmark Equitable Building, it is our sixth home in downtown NYC… & our longest stay….
And NYLI has often resided in a building that was a little controversial !!
Founded in 1828 , NYLI was first located in City Hall. The library soon outgrew this space and successfully petitioned NYC Council for more square footage in what was euphemistically called “The New City Hall” – a larger hodgepodge building that originally served as an almshouse.
When “The New City Hall” burned down, the New York Times celebrated its demise in an editorial:
NYLI found itself in yet another structure severely criticized by architectural critics, including once again, The New York Times:
The City Hall Post Office would exist until its 1939 demolition, but The New York Law Institute was ready for its next move. ….
In 1915, the new Equitable Building emphasized modernity over design elements; it was the largest office building in the world with an advanced elevator systems and fireproof construction.
And NYLI signed a lease immediately upon its construction!
The Equitable Building at 120 Broadway was not without controversy. Its completion brought about the city’s first comprehensive Zoning Code in 1916, mandating that land use and height of building conform to a formula regarding street frontage.
Recently, visitors have a greater appreciation of all the Beaux Arts craftsmanship as owner Silverstein Properties completed a $50 million restoration of all original elements — including vaulted ceilings, hand carved details and gold leaf accents.
Our longest residence is certainly our most famous — and the most beautiful.
105 years… and still counting!