April 8, 2024 | Allison Robertson

15 Iconic Buildings That Were Demolished


Iconic Buildings Demolished

When a building reaches iconic status, like the ones in this list, news of its demolition can cause quite a public stir. Although these buildings could not be saved, each one of them went down with a fight, and have remained some of history's most beloved architectural designs.

wrecking ball and building split image

Pennsylvania Station

The original Pennsylvania Station was a New York City landmark. It was built in 1910 by legendary firm, McKim, Mead & White, and owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Pennsylvania Station (New York). View from the Gimbel store - between 1906 and 1916Unknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

Pennsylvania Station: Demolished

The building was demolished in 1963 because of a decline in railway ridership. It was then replaced with Madison Square Garden and the current iteration of Penn Station.

Madison Square Garden - 2019Ajay Suresh, CC-BY-2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Prentice Women’s Hospital

The Prentice Women’s Hospital and Maternity Center in Chicago was designed by Bertrand Goldberg and completed in 1975. It was a perfect example of brutalist architecture.

Former Prentice Women's Hospital Chicago - 2012AkatherineGu, CC-BY-SA-4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Prentice Women’s Hospital: Teardown

The building was destroyed in 2013 after the owner—Northwestern University—argued that they needed the site to accommodate medical research facilities instead.

Prentice Women's Hospital, Chicago, Illinois. Architect: Bertrand Goldberg.Uncommon fritillary, Wikimedia Commons

Gettysburg Cyclorama

Gettysburg Cyclorama was the visitor center at the Gettysburg National Military Park. It was designed by Richard Neutra and housed a 360-degree painting by Paul Philippoteaux of the Civil War battle Pickett’s Charge.

Interior view of Richard Neutra's Cyclorama Building - 2004Jack Boucher, Wikimedia Commons

Gettysburg Cyclorama: Destroyed

The modernist structure was opened in 1962, and despite protest it was demolished by the National Parks Service in 2013 to preserve the historical context of the site.

Gettysburg Cyclorama Building - circa 1963Jack Boucher, Wikimedia Commons

Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel

The Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel was a destination resort build on the shoreline of Atlantic City, New Jersey. It was designed by Will Price, and the beautiful structure was featured in multiple films.

Marlborough-Blenheim-Claridge Hotels, Atlantic City, New Jersey - 1978Library of Congress, Wikimedia Commons

Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel

The stunning resort hotel, that once hosted Winston Churchill, was demolished in 1978 to make space for a casino.

Marlborough-Blenheim-Claridge Hotels, Atlantic City, New Jersey - demolition - 1979Library of Congress, Wikimedia Commons

Savoy-Plaza Hotel

Originally in its place was the Savoy Hotel, until Harry S. Black (the owner of the Plaza Hotel) used the site to build the Savoy-Plaza Hotel in 1927.

Hotel Savoy New York - (1905 - 1914)New York Public Library, NYPL Archive

Savoy-Plaza Hotel: Demolished

The building was designed by McKim, Mead & White and was an iconic structure along the edge of NYC Central Park until it was demolished in 1965 so the site could be used for the General Motors Building.

General Motors Building - 2013Magdalena Roeseler, Wikimedia Commons

Hayvenhurst

In 1919, Russian actress Alla Nazimova bought Hayvenhurst, an estate built in 1913 on Hollywood’s Sunset Boulevard. By 1927, she had added villas around the main house and opened the property as the Garden of Alla Hotel.

A postcard depicting Hayvenhurst, the home of Alla Nazimova - 2014Postcard publisher, Wikimedia Commons

Hayvenhurst: Takedown

New owners took over in 1930 and renamed the property as Garden of Allah. It was a legendary Hollywood hangout. But then in 1959 the building was torn down to make room for a bank.

Bridge construction - 1959Orange County Archives, Flickr

The Brown Derby

Opened in 1926, the Brown Derby Restaurant was across the street from the celeb-studded Cocoanut Grove at the Ambassador Hotel in L.A.

Brown Derby Restaurant, Los Angeles - 1967Sba2, CC-BY-SA-3.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Brown Derby: Demolished

Although the eatery is still an icon of the city’s architectural history, it was demolished in 1980 and turned into a parking lot.

Brown Derby On Wilshire Entrance - 1956United Air Lines, Wikimedia Commons

Imperial Hotel

In 1923, Frank Lloyd Wright built his iteration of Tokyo’s original Imperial Hotel after it was destroyed in a fire, with his signature Mayan Revival style architecture.

Imperial Hotel by Frank Lloyd Wright - 1920sUnknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

Imperial Hotel: Destroyed

Although the hotel famously survived a massive earthquake, it was demolished in 1967 to make way for the high-rise third iteration of the hotel.

Frank Lloyd Wright's apartment in the annex of the old Imperial Hotel - 1919Unknown author, Wikimedia Commons

Welbeck Street Car Park

The Welbeck Street Car Park was designed by Michael Blampied and opened in 1971. It was a parking garage for a department store, and it was an icon of brutalist architecture with its honeycomb-like concrete façade.

Wellbeck Street Car Park - 2017Welbeck Street Car Park, Wikimedia Commons

Welbeck Street Car Park: Demolished

Despite numerous protests, in March 2017 the parking garage was closed and demolition followed in 2019. It was replaced by a 10-storey hotel.

Welbeck Street Car Park - 2016Philafrenzy, CC-BY-SA-4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Richfield Tower

The Richfield Tower was designed by Stiles O. Clements with an intricately decorated façade constructed from black architectural terra-cotta and gold accents—which was considered an exceptional example of Art Deco architecture of the era.

Richfield Oil Building, EXTERIOR, DETAIL OF UPPER FLOORS WITH TERRA COTTA FIGURES - 1933Richfield Oil Building,

Richfield Tower: Teardown

The color scheme was meant to symbolize black gold, a nickname given to oil. The building was demolished after the company had apparently outgrown it. Thankfully, the elevator doors were salvaged and now remain in the lobby of the City National Tower—which took its place.

Richfield Oil Building - 1968/69Historic American Buildings Survey, Wikimedia Commons

Nakagin Capsule Tower

The Nakagin Capsule Tower was designed by Kisho Kurokawa and was one of the most notable examples of Japanese Metabolism, a postwar architectural style of the 1960s. It was a mixed-se residential and office structure and was a combination of two interconnected towers.

Nakagin Capsule TowerJordy Meow, Wikimedia Commons

Nakagin Capsule Tower: Demolished

The interconnected towers held 14- pre-fabricated and self-contained capsules that were supposed to be replaced every 25 years, but it never happened due to a lack of funding.

The tower was demolished in 2022.

Capsule From Nakagin Capsule Tower BuildingKestrel, CC-BY-SA-4.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Singer Building

The Singer Building was once the tallest building in the world. Its designer, Ernest Flagg was coincidentally critical of skyscrapers. He took the project as a way to promote skyscraper reform, as he felt they blocked too much light on city streets.

Singer Building, N.W. corner of Broadway and Liberty St., New York CityMoses King, Wikimedia commons

The Singer Building: Takedown

The building played an important role in history with its intriguing design and has been credited with influencing the New York City 1916 Zoning Resolution, which required setbacks and ultimately changed the future of the Big Apple’s skyline.

Singer Tower, New York CityLibrary of Congress, Wikimedia Commons

The Lenox Library

From 1877 until 1912, the Lenox Library sat on Fifth Avenue between 70th and 71st street in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. It started as bibliophile James Lenox’s personal collection after he decided to have a separate building just to house his books.

Lenox Library Loeffler - 1905August Loeffler, Wikimedia Commons

The Lenox Library: Destroyed

The building was demolished after Lenox passed, and all of the roughly 85,000 books inside were moved to the main branch of the New York Public Library.

New York Public Library May 2011OptimumPx, Wikimedia Commons

Cornelius Vanderbilt II’s Mansion

The largest mansion in Manhattan at the time belonged to Cornelius Vanderbilt II. It occupied most of the northwest corner of Fifth Avenue and West 57th Street, and was six stories tall.

Vanderbilt Mansion And Grand Army Plaza, New York 1908Unknown author, Wikimedia Commons

Cornelius Vanderbilt II’s Mansion: Demolished

The mansion, which housed a drawing room, music room, salon, reception hall, ballroom, two-story smoking room, office, breakfast room and more, was demolished in 1926 and replaced with the Bergdorf Goodman department store.

Bergdorf Goodman department store.Ingfbruno, CC-BY-SA-3.0, Wikimedia Commons

La Pagoda

La Pagoda, in Madrid, Spain, was officially called Laboratorios Jorba (Jorba Laboratories) but was referred to as La Pagoda because of its resemblance to a Buddhist Temple. It was designed by Miguel Fisac, and each floor was a rotated 45-degree angle from the one below it.

Laboratorios Jorba - circa 1970Unknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

La Pagoda: Demolished

Fisac was well-known for his love of concrete, and was a leader in modern design in Spain. Sadly, the building was demolished in 1999—and it caused quite a bit of public attention.

Portrait of Miguel Fisac - 1950Unknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

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