The golden days of steamship travel maybe long gone, but visitors to the Citibank branch at 1, Broadway in Manhattan still have the choice to enter via either “First” or “Cabin” class.
Addresses don’t come more illustrious that No.1, Broadway. Once used by George Washington as his New York headquarters, by 1884, the corner building adjoining Bowling Green was a highly ornate commercial office designed by Edward H. Kendall.
In 1920 the offices became the home of the International Mercantile Marine Company. The lower part of Broadway was once a hotbed of shipping giants, becoming known colloquially as “Steamship Row.” When Cunard moved in at No. 25 two years earlier, the new owners of No. 1 set to work to redesign the face of their building to outdo their rival’s glittering beaux-arts building up the street. For the IMM Co. was J.P.Morgan’s steamship empire, and included White Star Lines and the RMS Titanic.
Today the ground floor of No.1 Broadway is home to a branch of Citibank, but vestiges of it’s former tenants from the golden age of steamship travel still remain. There are two separate entrances to the bank, formerly for use by “First” and “Cabin” class. The bank teller windows are in the old booking room, which was designed in the style of a grand 18th century ballroom. The exterior was decorated with colorful shields representing the world’s great port cities. The main entrance leads to a luxurious marble room, with a hanging lamp in the shape of a globe and a grand staircase leading to a door at the far end saying “cruises.” Behind this door is a mysterious staircase, blocked off half way and leading perhaps into another part of the offices of this once grand shipping company.
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