New York Produce Exchange

Post Office; Produce Exchange on Bowling Green


A commodities exchange headquartered in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan in New York City. It served a network of produce and commodities dealers across the United States. Founded in 1861 as the New York Commercial Association, it was originally headquartered at Whitehall Street in a building owned by the New York Produce Exchange Company. The Association was renamed the New York Produce Exchange in 1868 and took over the original building in 1872.

Constructed, 1884

The second headquarters was developed after the Produce Exchange formed a committee to look for a new building site in early 1879.Ten architects were invited to an architectural design competition. Seven other architects submitted plans voluntarily. The committee suggested a design entitled In me mea spes omnis, by George B. Post. The committee selected four submissions for further review, which were hung on the trading floor's walls without any names. Post's plan won with 942 vs 249 (combined).The designs were required to include features such as ground-floor stores and offices, as well as a trading floor with space for 3,000 members. The Bowling Green headquarters was the world's first building with a superstructure combining wrought iron and masonry.The colossal Beaux Arts masterpiece was built in red brick and terracotta (chosen because the materials were seen as fireproof), with vast arcades and Florentine touches. Granite was used on the ground-floor entrance terrace and the cellar walls. It featured an elongated skylight looking down on the main trading floor, restaurants, a library, and offices. As a whole, the exterior was designed to appear low to the ground, with this quality being emphasized by strong horizontal lines. Post's design had a frontage of about 312 feet to the west on Bowling Green, 150 feet to the north on Beaver Street, and 148 feet to the south on Stone Street. Overall, the building covered an area of 53,779 square feet. The upper floors wrapped around a "light court" that was in the center of the building above the third-story trading floor. A clock tower on the southeastern corner of the site, measuring 40 by 70 feet, was added as part of a modification to the design. The building was about 120 feet tall above its main roof and 225 feet above its clock tower. Ultimately, Post devised 4,000 drawings for the exchange's headquarters.
On the eastern side, a projecting terrace on New Street led to an entrance without columns. When the building was completed, it was described as having "12,000,000 bricks, 15 miles of iron girders, 1+3⁄4 miles of columns, 2,061 tons of terracotta, 7+1⁄2 of flooring, more than 2,000 windows, and nearly 1,000 doors".

Destroyed, 1957

With the onset of World War II, business at the Produce Exchange declined because the United States government controlled all cargo, making it unnecessary for steamship lines to have representatives at the exchange. Around the same time, the Produce Exchange again contemplated redeveloping its building. The Produce Exchange had approximately five hundred members in the 1950s, one-sixth the membership at its 19th-century peak.The site was leased in October 1953 to developers Jack D. Weiler and Benjamin H. Swig for up to 100 years. The developers planned to construct a 30-story building at 2 Broadway, on the Produce Exchange Building's site. After the original plan failed, the Produce Exchange negotiated with the Charles F. Noyes Company, which took over the development project in 1956.