To the untrained eye, 77 Water Street looks more or less like any other unremarkable office building in New York’s Financial District.
Take a closer look, however, and you might begin to notice some unusual elements. Like the WWI fighter plane that appears poised for takeoff from the runway on the building’s roof, or the functioning turn-of-the-century-style penny candy shop in the lobby 26 floors below where visitors can purchase a treat.
Many a daydreaming office dweller has likely looked down from his window and speculated as to the plane’s history and how it came to rest atop a Wall Street high rise. Some might be disappointed to learn that the plane is no antique at all, but actually a replica modeled after a 1916 British Sopwith Camel. Also disappointingly, it didn’t arrive at the roof by way of a dramatic landing, but was instead placed there by crane in 1969, a year before the building was officially opened for business. The candy store below is likewise a replica, albeit a functioning one.
According to Robert Kaufman, president of the New York real estate developer the William Kaufman Organization, the plane was conceived as a way give the folks in nearby condos and offices something interesting to look at.
The candy store at 77 Water Street was incorporated into the lobby as part of Kaufman’s goal to humanize his building. On 77 Water Street’s website Kaufman states: “Our plaza is inviting, exciting, warm and friendly. It makes people forget they’re at an office building.”
In addition to its offbeat offerings, 77 Water Street is home to more traditional decorative displays, including a variety of art installations. The William Kaufman Organization is famous for incorporating a touch of whimsy into its properties; across the island at 767 Third Avenue, another Kaufman building is adorned by the world’s largest chess board.