Engineers' Club Building

Historic Sites, Monuments, Landmarks, and Public Art (State Historical Landmark)
The Engineers' Club Building is a New York City Landmark and is on the State and National Register of Historic Places. It is an early example of a high-rise clubhouse building, looks almost exactly as it did over 100 years ago, and is a visual reminder of the prominence of the social club and the bachelor apartment at the turn of the 20th century, as well as of the commercial transformation of Midtown Manhattan and New York State's role as an engineering center of the United States. In addition, the club boasted prominent historical figures including Andrew Carnegie, President Herbert C. Hoover, Thomas Edison, Charles Lindbergh, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Henry Clay Frick, H.H. Westinghouse, and Nikola Tesla. In fact, when Tesla received the Edison Medal on May 18, 1917, it was in the Engineers' Club Building that his formal dinner reception was held. When the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007, a commemorative plaque was placed on the building by the Co-op Board.

Photo The Engineers' Club Building, now Bryant Park Place Apartments (image from the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission)
Photo The Engineers' Club, 1897 (image from the Museum of the City of New York)
Photo The Engineers' Club, 1905 (image from the Museum of the City of New York)
Photo Dining room of the Engineers' Club, 1910 (image from the Museum of the City of New York)
Photo Engineers' Club, 1935 (image from the Museum of the City of New York)
Photo Engineers' Club, 1936 (image from the New York Public Library)
Photo Commemorative plaque for Nikola Tesla on the Bryant Park Place (Engineers' Club) building (image from Tesla Memorial Society of New York)
The Engineers' Club of New York City, founded in 1888, was the first purely social organization for engineers in the United States. Originally the club was located at 10 West 29th Street, then at 374 Fifth Avenue, but with the rising importance of engineering in the development of city infrastructure, the club's membership (1,000 members by 1903) outgrew the building. Club member Andrew Carnegie offered a million dollars toward a unified headquarters for New York City's engineering clubs; he offered an additional half million in 1904 for the construction of a pair of connected buildings instead: the Engineers' Clubhouse (on 40th Street, facing Bryant Park and the New York Public Library) and the Engineering Societies' Building (on 39th Street). The United Engineering Society, encompassing the 9,000 members from all the engineers' societies of the city, was formed as part of the process.

Whitfield and King, a small architectural firm, won the design contest for the Engineers' Clubhouse contract, most likely in part due to the fact that Whitfield was Carnegie's brother-in-law. Andrew Carnegie's wife, Louise Whitfield Carnegie, laid the cornerstone of the building in 1905. On April 25, 1907, the 12-story Renaissance Revival clubhouse was completed, with the three base stories faced in white marble, the middle seven stories in red brick with marble embellishments, and the top three stories projecting outward. It held 66 bachelor flats, a 300-seat banquet hall and two large dining rooms, a penthouse and roof garden, and club and billiard rooms. The 35% membership increase upon the opening of the new clubhouse made it necessary, within three years, for the Engineers' Club to construct an additional building abutting the clubhouse, which opened in April of 1915. By 1925, the club added to its facilities again by purchasing the buildings to either side of the clubhouse. Additional bedrooms and a lounge were housed at 28 West 40th Street, and additional office space was provided at 36 West 40th.


By 1972, the Engineers' Club was the only remaining club on West 40th Street, and the Engineering Societies had relocated to the United Engineering Center building at 345 East 47th. The Engineers' Club struggled financially and was forced to declare bankruptcy in 1977. The Clubhouse and its two neighboring properties were sold in 1979 and converted for residential use with ground-floor retail. Since 1983, the former Engineers' Club Building has been an apartment house and is now known as Bryant Park Place. The building has seen very few alterations since its construction, the most extensive work having been the expansion of the penthouse apartments and repair work to the marble elements of the exterior in the mid-1990s.


The Engineers' Club Building is a New York City Landmark and a State and National Register of Historic Places listing. It is an early example of a high-rise clubhouse building, looks almost exactly as it did over 100 years ago, and is a visual reminder of the prominence of the social club and the bachelor apartment at the turn of the 20th century, as well as of the commercial transformation of Midtown Manhattan and New York State's role as an engineering center of the United States. In addition, the club boasted prominent historical figures including Andrew Carnegie, President Herbert C. Hoover, Thomas Edison, Charles Lindbergh, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Henry Clay Frick, H.H. Westinghouse, and Nikola Tesla. In fact, when Tesla received the Edison Medal on May 18, 1917, it was in the Engineers' Club Building that his formal dinner reception was held. When the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007, a commemorative plaque was placed on the building by the Co-op Board.

Inscription:

Bryant Park Place

A COOPERATIVE CORPORATION ORIGINALLY KNOWN AS

"THE ENGINEERS CLUB"

In 1903, Andrew Carnegie presented the professional association of engineers with a donation to fund the establishment of a professional club. Designed by the architects Whitfield and King and completed in 1907, the Engineers Club was one of the first "skyscrapers" in Midtown. The adjoining brownstones to the east and west were purchased by the club in 1923 and 1920 respectively.

The club's renowned membership included Andrew Carnegie, President Herbert C. Hoover, Thomas Edison, Charles Lindbergh, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Henry Clay Frick, H.H. Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla.

During the 19th century, American engineers helped transform America from a largely agricultural nation to an architectural and industrial empire and a world power. The club was Carnegie's tribute to ordinary men doing extraordinary things.

Bryant Park Place stands today as an architectural link to the rich heritage and proud traditions of the nation as it came of age in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Sources

"ENGINEERS’ CLUB BUILDING." NYC. Accessed Web, 5/14/17. http://www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/downloads/pdf/reports/2429.pdf.

"Bryant Park Place." NYC Circa. 7/20/11. Accessed Web, 5/14/17. http://nyccirca.blogspot.com/2011/07/virtually-every-building-in-new-york.html.

"Nikola Tesla Received The Edison Medal." Tesla Memorial Society of New York. Accessed Web, 5/14/17. http://www.teslasociety.com/bryantpark.htm.


Address
32 West 40th Street
New York, NY
Tags
  • Architecture and Historical Buildings
  • Business and Economic Development
  • Science and Technology
  • Urban History
This location was created on 2016-03-16 by Sara Marian .   It was last updated on 2017-05-14 by Clio Administrator .

This entry has been viewed 215 times since January 2017

Comments

  • No comments found.

Join The Discussion

Only registered users can comment. Registration is completely free!

Login / Register