A familiar sight in the Brooklyn skyline, the Williamsburgh Savings Bank (now known as One Hanson Place) was the tallest building in Brooklyn until the construction of The Brooklyner in 2009.
About “The Willie”
The building often referred to as “the Willie” was built between the years 1927 and 1929, completed just before the onset of the Great Depression.
This wonderful Art Deco edifice was built by the architectural firm Halsey, McCormack and Helmer, and at 512 feet (156m) in height, immediately received acclaim as the tallest building in Brooklyn. As a matter of fact, for many years, it was the tallest building “between Manhattan and Paris“.
The ground floor banking room was magnificent, boasting 63-foot-high (19m) vaulted ceilings and incredible 40-foot-high windows that let in the sunlight. At 112-feet-long and 73-feet-deep (34x22m), decorated with mosaics and plenty of Italian Marble, the grand banking room has long been considered one of New York’s finest interiors.
The exterior of the 34-story building includes a huge 4-faced clock, which was the largest in the world from 1929 until 1962. A large gilded copper dome sits at the very top of the building, paying homage to the original Williamsburgh Savings Bank located in the “Williamsburg” section of Brooklyn.
Of course, the main purpose for the building of this Brooklyn icon was to house a banking facility, but there were also 33 stories of offices to rent to other businesses.
For many years, as a matter of fact, the Williamsburgh Savings Bank building, located at Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood, was known as “The Mecca of Dentistry” because so many dentists rented space there. An observation deck on the top floor was open to the general public until the 1990s, making it a popular place to visit for great views of the city.
In October 2005, the banking hall closed its doors for the last time when the building was sold to a developer who turned the Williamsburgh Savings Bank into 216 high-priced luxury condominiums, restaurants, and retail space, much to the dismay of many Brooklynites who opposed the renovation and redevelopment of this great building.