20 Exchange Place is a 57-story Art Deco building in New York City. Formerly known as the City Bank-Farmers Trust Building, it was built between 1930–1931, for the newly merged National City Bank of New York and the Farmers’ Loan and Trust Company, predecessor firms of Citigroup. It remained the company’s headquarters until 1956 and was ultimately sold in 1979.
The building was designed by the architectural firm of Cross and Cross. Although Cross and Cross described the building as having no particular architectural style, it was described at the time as being in the style then known as “modern classic”, with minimal art deco ornamentation. Originally designed in 1929 to be the world’s tallest building at 846.4 feet (258.0 m), with a pyramidal top and a budget of $9,500,000, Depression era realities resulted in a scaled back, 741-foot (226 m) tall building, New York City’s fourth tallest building at the time. It remained among the top ten tallest buildings in New York until 1970. Today, as the sixth tallest building in downtown Manhattan, and the 33rd tallest in New York City, it is still among the most prominent buildings in the city skyline.
In 1996, the building was designated a City Landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. In 2006, the building served as a fictional branch location of the “Manhattan Trust Bank”, in the movie Inside Man, and, in 2009, it served as several different bank locations in the Fringe episode “Safe”. The building also makes an appearance in the film Wall Street, and is planned to feature in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (to be released in 2014).
The 16th through 57th floors of the building have been converted from commercial to residential space by Manhattan developers and real estate managers Metro Loft Management. As a part of this conversion, the building’s exterior is being restored, including cleaning the building’s bricks, which had turned black over the years, to their original white color.