Equitable Building, via New York

This is the amazing but long gone Equitable Building, nw cnr of Collins and Elizabeth. It was designed about 1890, and took 6 years to build, out of grant and thick brick walls and a steel frame (the first here). It was designed by Edward E Raht, German born, Paris trained, and who had worked in New York from the 1870s. In 1888, instead of getting the job of enlarging Equitable’s NY HQ, he got the job to do outposts in Vienna, Berlin, Melb and Sydney. Leafing through my ‘New York 1880’ book, with everything important built 1870-1890, I can see now that it was very much at the cutting edge of what was going on in NY at the time. The Romanesque Revival was just dying out to be replaced by Classical (and much taller) but you can see the influence – not so much from the original Equitable (the very ornate one), but others with stacked layers, and bold rustication. The most similar, the last, was actually a warehouse. And yes it was criminal it was demolished (at huge effort) in 1959, but that was 15 before heritage listing was legislated, and when huge elaborate office buildings were seen as inefficient and even ugly. Every one of the NY buildings has gone too.

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