Bush Tower, also called the Bush Terminal International Exhibit Building is a historic thirty-story skyscraper located just east of Times Square at 130-132 West 42nd Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. It was built in 1916-18 for Irving T. Bush's Bush Terminal Company, owners of Bush Terminal in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Bush Tower's unique original purpose as commercial display space and social space, its notable design that combined narrowness, height, and Neo-Gothic architecture, and its role in the evolution of Times Square and of New York skyscrapers after the 1916 Zoning Resolution all qualify it as an exceptional structure.
Building Site and Style:
The building site was only 50 feet wide and 90 feet deep (15 m × 27.5 m), yet the building rises over 433 feet (132 m) to its peak. The architects remarked that they wanted to make the building "a model for the tall, narrow building in the center of a city block". The New York firm of Helmle and Corbett (also designers of Bush House in London and the George Washington Masonic National Memorial (1922–1932) in Alexandria, Virginia)--and specifically, architect Harvey Wiley Corbett—gave Bush Tower a Neo-Gothic appearance, in some ways similar in style to New York's landmark Woolworth Building, a skyscraper that had been completed just three years earlier.
Yet the thinness of the building and its function precluded the need for conventional skyscraper fenestration. The windows are concentrated on the north (42nd St.) and south facades. With the exception of a recessed mid-facade lightwell on the east facade, the east and west walls were left largely blank. Instead, Trompe-l'œil brickwork creates vertical "ribs" with a false "shade" pattern to enhance the verticality. High pointed arched windows lighted the top double-height floor (the building is variously described as 29 or 30 floors). Even the water tower was hidden behind a mansard roof at the tower's peak.
Bush Tower influenced subsequent skyscraper design. Architect Raymond Hood credited the architects of this structure as an influence on his landmark American Radiator Building of 1924. Written about in the Literary Digest and Vanity Fair, and by such critics as Lewis Mumford in Architecture, and the tallest building in Midtown Manhattan when completed, Bush Tower also signified the movement of the Manhattan business district to Midtown.