About our historical headquarters building, W. Parker Chase, author of New York: The Wonder City, wrote in 1932, “This marvelous example of architectural and building skill is not only a credit to New York, but to all America. No building ever constructed more thoroughly typifies the American spirit of hustle than does this extraordinary structure — built in less than one year. … Words are inadequate to convey even a faint conception of the splendor or the wonder of this magnificent building.”
According to Neal Bascomb, author of Higher: A Historic Race to the Sky and the Making of a City in a podcast for 99percentinvisible, “…it’s doubtful you’ve even heard of the Manhattan Company Building. This is probably because now it’s called 40 Wall Street or the Trump Building, but also because the design just never took hold in the public consciousness. This was not the case when the buildings were first completed. The Chrysler Building was universally panned and the Manhattan Company Building got great reviews from architecture critics.”
Like many of New York City’s Art Deco skyscrapers, 40 Wall Street was built with a public observation deck in its roof, said to be on the 69th and 70th floors. The roof also contained machinery and recreational facilities. One claim to fame that did surpass the Chrysler Building was that the highest usable floor at 40 Wall Street was almost 400 feet above its rival, according to the consulting architects, Shreve & Lamb, and that it had the highest observation deck. There is a rumor that Governor Thomas E. Dewey lived below the observation deck for a period of time, even though the building was zoned only for commercial use.