Manhattan has no shortage of towering buildings, but only a handful have architectural flourishes that set them apart and make their exteriors attractions in their own right. The David N. Dinkins Manhattan Municipal Building, right in the heart of lower Manhattan, is a skyline mainstay half a city block wide, 40 stories tall, and topped by the sparkling copper “Civic Fame” statue by Adolph A. Weinman. The building, covered in tan limestone, was completed in the mid 1910s and was the winning building design in an architectural contest hoping to unite many city employees under a single roof. Now more than a century later, the civic building remains one of the largest government office buildings in the world.
Ripe with symbolism, its center features four pinnacle turrets surrounding a massive central spire, which represent Manhattan and the surrounding four Burroughs of New York City. At it’s very top, the Civic Fame statue depicts a barefoot woman in a flowing dress holding a crown with five points for the five boroughs in her left hand.
After arriving at the Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall Metro stop (the building was the first in the city to incorporate a stop at its base), visitors stream through the arcaded plaza on the building’s south end. Be sure to look up for the sculpture and relief details adorning the building’s exterior before walking through the huge triumphal arch—inspired by the Arch of Constantine in Rome—which once supported a steady stream of car traffic before road patterns were altered. Inside, admire the embellished elevator banks and historical photos on the lobby level or purchase books and souvenirs in the official store of the City of New York.
The Manhattan Municipal Building is located at 1 Centre Street and above the Brooklyn-Bridge City Hall Metro Stop servicing lines 4, 5, and 6. The building is a few blocks southwest of Manhattan’s Chinatown and under a mile northeast of the World Trade Center Memorial Park. The inside has free WiFi and workstations for visitors conducting business in the building.