Equitable Life Assurance Building, also known as the Equitable Life Building, was made of brick, granite, and iron, and was originally built with seven above-ground stories and two basement levels, with a height of at least 130 feet. An expansion in 1885 brought the total height to 155 feet and nine stories.It was the world's first office building to feature passenger elevators and consequently became successful attracting tenants. The Equitable Life Building was expanded numerous times; after the construction of annexes during the late 1880s, the building occupied its entire block, bounded by Broadway and Cedar, Pine and Nassau streets.
While touted as fireproof, the Equitable Life Building burned down in a 1912 fire that killed six people.
The skyscraper was designed in the neoclassical style. It is 555 feet tall, with 38 stories and 1.2 million square feet of floor space. Designed without setbacks, the building's articulation consists of three horizontal sections - a base, shaft, and capital.At its construction, the world's largest building. Public outcry over its bulk caused New York City to establish its first zoning law in 1916.The Equitable Building replaced the Equitable Life Building, the previous headquarters of the Equitable Life Insurance Company, which burned down in 1912. Upon opening, it was the largest office building in the world by floor area. The Equitable Building hosted a variety of tenants and, by the 1920s, was the most valuable building in New York City. The Equitable Life Insurance Company, the building's namesake, occupied a small portion of the building until it moved out during 1960.