New York Architecture Images- Lower Manhattan



Francis H. Kimball and Julian Levi. Alterations 1929 Harry R. Allen.


One William Street at Hanover Square.




Second Empire Baroque












A Unique Elevator in New York City

by Robert S. Caporale

On a recent trip to New York City, George Greenberg of Gem Elevator Co. took us to visit some unique elevator installations that his company had performed over the years. Of particular interest were the automobile elevator at 1 South William Street in New York City's financial district and an ash can lift installed at Public School 91 on New York's lower east side. These are but a few of many hundreds of unusual elevators which Gem has installed. However, due to its massive proportions and special turntable operation, the automobile elevator is one of which Greenberg is especially proud. This unique elevator serves the sub-grade parking levels of the building, which is positioned on a very small triangular site that does

not allow cars in the below-grade parking areas to turn around when entering and exiting the elevator, hence the need for the elevator car to be provided with a turntable.

As downtown NYC is quite congested, 1 South Willliam Street, as are many buildings in this area of the city, is on a very small site and bounded on all sides by busy streets. Entry into the building for below-grade parking could only be accomplished from one side and the below-grade parking areas are only able to accommodate a few parking spaces on each of two sides of the elevator. This layout necessitated the design of an elevator that could, in addition to accommodating a full-size limousine, allow cars to be driven on and off the elevator from any of three sides.

A unique solution was therefore developed by Gem Elevator and their major supplier, Gillesppi Elevator Co. A 10,000-pound freight elevator, which travels at 50 fpm and serves three levels, was designed with a turntable within its platform, arranged so that it could rotate the on-board vehicle to any one of three positions around the hoistway. This allows the vehicle to be driven off the elevator and directly into a parking space. Exiting cars are backed out from their parking spaces and, as the elevator rises to street level, the turntable positions the cars so that they can be driven directly out to the street.

A typical down operational sequence is as follows: The automobile stops in front of the elevator entrance at street level and the elevator is called to that landing. The car and landing doors open and the car is driven onto the elevator. Once on board, the driver selects the desired parking level. The car and landing doors close. The car starts to move down to the selected landing and the turntable rotates the car to the proper position so that it faces the car door through which the car will exit. By the time the elevator comes to a stop at the landing, the turntable has stopped and has properly positioned the vehicle for exiting through the proper car door.

On the up trips, the elevator, which is 22' 11-1/4" wide by 23' 7-1/4" deep and large enough to accommodate the vehicle on board with the turntable rotating, positions the vehicle for direct exiting out and onto the desired street level.

The elevator installed at 1 South William Street continues to provide convenient service for the executives at Banca Commerciale Italiana and is a fine design and installation accomplishment for Gem and Gillesppi Elevator companies.