|Former ASCE Headquarters in New York City|
The national headquarters of ASCE remained in New York City for over a century until the Society moved to Reston, Virginia in 1996. The first ASCE headquarters were located in Lower Manhattan and the Society later moved to locations in the Flatiron District, Gramercy Park, and Midtown. Although only two of these structures remain, all of the sites are located near major attractions and can be easily visited today.
The locations of the six buildings and the years in which they served as ASCE's national headquarters in New York City are listed below:
Designed by architect Cyrus L.W. Eidlitz (1853-1921), the former ASCE Society House is located at 218-220 West 57th Street. The four-story, French Renaissance building incorporates carved Indiana limestone and white glazed brick in its façade. Some of Eidlitz's other works include the former New York Times Building at One Times Square (the site of the ball drop on New Year's Eve) and Dearborn Station in Chicago. Construction on the Society House started in December of 1896 and the building opened to a gala welcoming reception on November 24, 1897.
Upon entering the ground floor of the Society House, members found a reception room, coat room (large enough to check over 200 coats and hats), Secretary's office, conference room for the Board of Direction and committees, and a serving room for catered meetings. A staircase to the second floor led to a 500-seat auditorium and a reading room overlooking 57th Street with all of the current engineering literature. Executive and clerical offices occupied the entire third floor while the top floor held book stacks for 150,000 volumes and was connected to the reading room by an electric book lift. Storage and publication rooms were located in the basement and sub-basement. Vaults below the sidewalk on 57th Street held coal bins for the boiler and two gas engines to generate electricity for lighting.
As ASCE's membership increased and it began to outgrow the building, the Society commissioned Eidlitz & McKenzie to construct a matching addition on the west side of the Society House. The annex was built between June 1905 and January 1906 and permitted for the expansion of the library and auditorium. ASCE's headquarters remained in the Society House until 1917, when it joined the mechanical, mining, and electrical societies in the Engineering Societies Building on West 39th Street.
Following the move to the Engineering Societies Building, ASCE leased the Society House and retained ownership until 1966. Since then, the building has been used as offices and a showroom for the Ajax Rubber Company, a showroom for Stearns-Knight automobiles, a restaurant for the Schrafft's chain. Lee's Art Shop began leasing space in the building in 1975 and expanded to all four floors in 2002. The building was designated as a New York City landmark in 2008.
Built in 1907 with a $1.5 million gift from Andrew Carnegie, the Engineering Societies Building at 33 West 39th Street initially served as the home of American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Institute of Mining Engineers, and the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. Carnegie's goal was to bring all of the societies together under one roof, including their respective libraries.
Having recently completed their own headquarters building on West 57th Street, ASCE members initially decided against becoming a tenant in the Engineering Societies Building by a vote of 1,139 to 662 on March 2, 1904. This was also a result of a large misunderstanding among members concerning the autonomy of the Society. ASCE eventually moved into the Engineering Societies Building on December 17, 1917, and two floors were later added to the top of the building to accommodate the new society. With is move into the building, ASCE became the fourth founding member of the United Engineering Society (now the United Engineering Foundation).
The Engineering Societies Building was designed by architects Hale & Rogers with Henry G. Morse and has a prominent limestone and brick façade. The societies shared an 1,000-seat auditorium on the third and fourth floors and a two-story library on the 12th and 13th floors. The founder societies remained in the Engineering Societies Building until September 5, 1961. Having outgrown the space, they moved into the United Engineering Center at 345 East 47th Street, across from the United Nations Headquarters. The Engineering Societies Building was converted into commercial office space and today is the headquarters of Thor Equities.
The Engineering Societies Building is located behind the former Engineers' Club at 32 West 40th Street. That building still stands today, is marked with a plaque, and is occupied by the Bryant Park Place co-op.
|Civil Engineering Landmarks|
|Early Years of the Section|
|OPAL/OCEA Award Winners|
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|Alexander L. Holley Memorial|
|ASCE Founders' Plaque|
|Bear Mountain Bridge|
|Benjamin Wright Gravesite|
|Croton Water Supply System|
|Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge|
|Empire State Building|
|First New York City Subway|
|Former ASCE Headquarters|
|George Washington Bridge|
|Grand Central Terminal|
|Hudson & Manhattan Tunnel|
|O.H. Ammann Memorial Plaque|
|Statue of Liberty|
|ASCE National Website|