It’s hard to believe. Gilbert is the genius who gave New York the Woolworth Building, the New York Life Tower, and other spectacular structures from the dawn of the skyscraper age.
But it exists, at the corner of Spring and Lafayette Streets, inside a repurposed East River Savings Bank building Gilbert designed in 1927.
The interior space is stunning, especially if you’re used to Duane Reade’s usual bad lighting and low ceilings.
Here are detailed ceilings, vintage chandeliers, a lovely old clock above the door, and a brass staircase to the lower level.
References to the building’s past as a financial institution are mostly wiped away, with the exception of the stenciling on the exterior, between the front door and the subway entrance on Spring Street.
The lettering is faint, but you can just make out “cassette di sicurezza.”
Google translate tells me this means “safety deposit boxes” in Italian—the first language of many neighborhood residents, as Spring and Lafayette Streets would have been squarely in Little Italy territory.
Check out some other old city buildings whose original tenants departed—and now are occupied by very different businesses.