The Demolition of the Drexel Building c. 1913 aka J.P. Morgan Building
One of the most valuable pieces of real estate in New York City is 23 Wall Street at the corner of Broad and Wall Streets. From 1876 -1913 the site was occupied by this building, the Drexel Building seen in the photo above made by the Detroit Publishing Co..
The building was the home to Drexel, Morgan & Co with the powerful J.P. Morgan as chief executive after the death of Anthony Drexel. When Drexel passed away in 1894 the company’s name was changed to J.P. Morgan & Co..
Morgan coveted full ownership of the property but Drexel and then his heirs never showed any interest in relinquishing title.
When Anthony Drexel bought the land in 1876, which was only 771 square feet, he paid $248,958 or an astounding $348 a square foot. By 1913 the land without the building was assessed for tax purposes at $2.5 million.
Finally on July 7, 1912 it was announced that the Drexel estate had sold the property which now encompassed 9,500 square feet to the J.P. Morgan & Co. bank firm for an undisclosed price.
Morgan planned to demolish the old building and build a new grand home for the firm.
But J.P. Morgan would not see the construction of the new building, nor the old building’s demolition. Morgan left the states on January 7, 1913 for a long trip overseas and fell ill while in Egypt. Soon afterwards Morgan found it difficult to eat or drink. He died in Rome, Italy on March 31, 1913 at age 75.
The demolition of the old Drexel Building commenced May 1, 1913 by the Volk House Wrecking Company. The work was completed in late July. In this photo of the demolition, on the left part of Federal Hall can be seen with its statue of George Washington.
If you look at Volk’s sign on the third floor above the building’s entrance, the firm proudly announced that they were the company that demolished a 22 story building. on the corner of Wall and Nassau Streets, The demolished building Volk refers to was the Gillender Building, taken down in 1910.