Woolworth Building Gets Dressed Up in Heroic Fashion

Joe DiMaggio. Ben Hogan. Althea Gibson. Mary Lou Retton. What do these people have in common?

They’ve all been honored down Lower Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes! And now they are being featured in a photo installation outside of the historic Woolworth Building on Broadway between Barclay Street and Park Place. Make sure to stop by 233 Broadway to see historic images of notable American athletes who were feted along New York City’s historic parade route.

Collaborating with The Witkoff Group, property owners of the renowned Woolworth Building, the Downtown Alliance has unveiled several large-scale images from ticker tape parades of years past. This project is a test pilot for a possible new initiative to utilize vacant retail spaces as an opportunity to highlight the historic events that have occurred in Lower Manhattan while helping to market and maximize these vacant spaces.

The images, many of which are sourced from New York City Municipal Archives and feature famous American athletes, are located in the ground-floor windows of the famed Lower Manhattan property and along scaffolding that temporarily flanks the building. For photos of the project, click here.

“For more than a century, our city has honored some of history’s most notable athletes, heads of state, and scientists and many more , with ticker-tape parades down Lower Manhattan’s venerated Canyon of Heroes,” said Elizabeth H. Berger, President of the Downtown Alliance. “The Woolworth Building – one of the most celebrated and recognizable buildings in New York City – is the perfect canvas to draw attention to the history of Lower Manhattan and to animate the use of this vacant retail space.”

Scaffolding Installation at Woolworth Building

The ticker tape tradition – a quintessential New York celebration – began in 1886 to mark the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty. Ticker tape parades have since honored the likes of Winston Churchill in 1946, Nelson Mandela in 1990 and the New York Yankees countless times. (You can learn more about the parades and listen to a podcast here).

In 2003, the Downtown Alliance launched a program to commemorate the more than 200 parades with a series of granite strips set in chronological order every 20 feet along the traditional parade route from Battery Park to City Hall, with room for many more. The strips identify each parade and cite the achievements of the honorees, a group that also includes pioneers of air and space travel, soldiers, sailors, generals, sea captains, heads of state and royalty, journalists, firefighters and a prize-winning concert pianist.

As pedestrians glance down to read the names of honorees etched into the sidewalk strips, a popular history of the United States and a timeline of Lower Manhattan begins to emerge.