(l. to r.) 68 and 70 Fifth Avenue, showing lower floors of 70 Fifth Avenue. The latter is a striking 12-story Beaux Arts–style office building constructed in 1912 for publisher George Plimpton. It housed an extraordinary array of civil rights and social justice organizations, philanthropic groups, publishers, and nongovernmental organizations. This includes the headquarters of the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization, the NAACP; the publishers of the first magazine for an African-American audience, The Crisis, and for African-American children, The Brownies Book; and what would become the American Civil Liberties Union, among many other entities. The building was designated as a New York City Landmark in 2021. The former was built as a Greek Revival row house c. 1838-40 by John H. Cornell, believed to be a high-ranking officer at the Mechanics Banking Association on Wall Street. It became the residence of N.H. Wolfe, owner of the oldest flour and grain company in New York, the failure of which led to the Panic of 1857, which in turn precipitated the Civil War. A celebrated World War II entertainment venue for GIs was also located here.

For more information on the history of these and other buildings South of Union Square, click here.

See all Architecture of South of Union Square photos here.

Photo by Dylan Chandler