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The Woolworth Building Tours

Updated: April 19, 2024

Several of our local tour guides and I have had the good fortune to tour the Woolworth Building.

Tours stopped running in 2020 due to the pandemic, but we do want to tell you about them should they become available again.

Be warned - many try to enter the lobby but there is no public admission, and if you try to enter you will be quickly turned away!

Still, by all means, go see the outside of this magnificent building, once the tallest in the world. 

In this post, we also include many great things you can do near the magnificent Woolworth Building.


The Woolworth Building is at 233 Broadway between Park Place and Barclay Street in Lower Manhattan.

You can easily get there by public transportation. Use this link to Google Maps to get directions from anywhere.

By subway

  • N, R to City Hall
  • 4, 5, and 6 trains to Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall 
  • A, C to Chambers Street (at Church Street)
  • J, Z, C to Chambers Street (at Park Row)
  • 2, 3 to Park Place
  • PATH train to World Trade Center

If you are new to the NYC subway, check out our articles, Tips on Riding the NYC Subway and Choosing the Best Subway Pass.

By bus

M5, M9, M22, M103

TIP: All Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus Tours offer Lower Manhattan tours that stop near the Woolworth Building.

Read our post on the Best New York Bus Tours to see if a tour is right for you.


The Woolworth Building is one of the most iconic and beautiful buildings in NYC.

It is 792 feet (241 m) tall. When it was completed in 1913, it was the tallest building in the world! It remained so until 1930.

Now dwarfed by the surrounding skyscrapers, this building is still in the top 30 tallest buildings in NYC.

Many people love seeing its green spire peeking through the sea of glass that is now the skyline of Lower Manhattan.

Photo by Valery Anatolievich

The building's exquisite neo-gothic characteristics resemble a cathedral, earning the building the nickname "The Cathedral of Commerce".

TIP: Find out who coined this nickname from our post, 13 Cool Facts about the Woolworth Building.

It was a commercial building with offices from 1913 until 2002.

Then a private developer purchased the building and converted the top 30 floors into private residences.

At that point the building was closed to the public, so to see its famous lobby and more you had to take a tour. 


NOTE: These tours have not been available for several years. We will update this post when they are available again.

Tours are offered in 3 increments: 30-minutes, 60-minutes and 90-minutes.

On the 30-minute tour, you visit the spectacular lobby made of marble with intricate mosaics, stained glass, and even gargoyles! 

Image © Courtney Shapiro

The 60-minute tour includes an introduction to the building while looking at the facade of the building.

You will also get a more detailed narration of the lobby's intricate architecture and visit the lower level to see the old bank vault and what is left of the former subway entrances.

The 90-minute tour includes an in-depth lecture on the facade, the lobby, the lower level, and the stunning mezzanine reached by a grand marble staircase.

I took the 90-minute tour and was mesmerized! The intricacy of the tile work, the golden embellishments and the stunning marble were incredible. It was like a palace.

Everywhere you looked there was something to be dazzled by.

One fascinating feature was the ghoulish carved faces in the corners of the lobby.

Image © Courtney Shapiro

There were also some comical carved faces and figures. Our guide explained to us that they were famous people, some involved with the construction of the building, like architect Cass Gilbert.

Even Woolworth himself is there counting nickels! Read our post 13 Cool Facts about the Woolworth Building to see the significance of nickels.

The tour was great. Our guide was so knowledgeable and funny. I would recommend this tour to anyone who loves architecture, history, and beautiful things!

Tour Reviews

Here is what others had to say about these tours. These tours receive rave reviews on TripAdvisor. They are rated 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

The tours also are described with superlatives like "fantastic", "fascinating, incredible", "beyond excellent" and "much more than expected".

Reviewers were impressed with the guides noting that they were extremely knowledgeable, approachable, and passionate.

Out of the handful of negative reviews, one stated, "Nothing interesting to see or learn there other than the lobby which you can see in 20 seconds".


One of the best things to do nearby is to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. The entrance is located just 5 minutes from the Woolworth Building.

Use our guide to walking the Brooklyn Bridge filled with helpful information and facts or our GPS-enabled audio tour that you can use any time of the day or night.

In the video below, Katie, a local tour guide with Free Tours by Foot, explains how to walk across the bridge.

If you want to combine a visit to the Woolworth Building with other sights, we offer the below pay-what-you-wish tours:

Other things to do near the Woolworth Building

For even more nearby activities, see our post on things to do in Lower Manhattan.


Before Woolworth opened his chain of stores, merchandise in shops was typically kept behind the counter. 

Customers gave the clerk a list of the items they wanted, and only after they had paid did they get to handle the items they had purchased. 

F.W. Woolworth had the notion that items could be placed on shelves throughout the store and that customers should be able to handle things that they were considering buying. 

People liked his idea and he grew his company into the very successful international F.W. Woolworth Company.

The plot of land on which Woolworth built his headquarters skyscraper reportedly cost him over $7 million which he astonishingly paid in cash.

The total cost of the project was $13.5 million to build.  

Architect Cass Gilbert also designed the Alexander Hamilton Custom House which today houses the Museum of the American Indian.

This beautiful building is seen in many films and TV shows. The climactic scene of Enchanted is set on the top floor of the building. 

It is also used as the office building of Nick Carraway in Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby and as the headquarters of Meade Publications in Ugly Betty.

About The Author

Courtney Shapiro

Courtney is a lifelong New Yorker fascinated with the city’s history, culture and cuisine. She loves exploring the world, as well as sharing her travel expertise with others. She joined the Free Tours by Foot team in 2011, first as a guide and then as a writer. She has a law degree, a teaching degree and a worn-out passport. Her motto is “Have backpack, will travel”. READ MORE...
Updated: April 19th, 2024
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