The Chamber of Commerce Building
The Chamber of Commerce Building at 66 Liberty Street in the Financial District was constructed in 1901 for the Chamber of Commerce, America's first mercantile association, founded in 1768 in Fraunces Tavern to promote commerce, mediate trade disputes and promote laws that facilitated trade. The chamber was behind important advances in trade and commerce including the Erie Canal, transatlantic cable, and the NYC subway system, along with public monuments like the George Washington Statue on the steps of Federal Hall. When the plans were first released in 1901, Brickbuilder magazine thought Liberty Street was bad location for the Chamber’s new building, “The Chamber of Commerce has purchased the old Real Estate Exchange on Liberty Street and will erect their magnificent new building on that site. This is a fact to be sincerely regretted, as Liberty Street is very narrow, and the building will be as wretchedly placed as the beautiful Clearing House on Pine Street, which is lost between two skyscrapers on a narrow little alley.”
The Beaux-Arts structure is clad in white Vermont marble and topped with a mansard roof. Three sculptures of John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and DeWitt Clinton once adorned the front of the building (seen above) but deteriorated after decades of harsh weather and acid rain. The Chamber moved out of the building in 1980 and the landmarked building was purchased by the International Commercial Bank of China, who renovated it, bringing in the 25,000 tons of white marble. Unfortunately the statues had deteriorated beyond the point of repair and were discarded.