Long before the World Trade Center rose downtown, Irving T. Bush tried to create one just a few steps from Times Square.
His Bush Terminal International Exhibit Building — or Bush Tower — was a slender 30-story skyscraper that shot up like a great Gothic arrow at 130 West 42nd Street. Finished in 1918, it was meant to be an indispensable hub where buyers from stores everywhere could see the latest wares of hundreds of manufacturers, all under one roof.
By no coincidence whatsoever, many of those manufacturers were also tenants of the 200-acre Bush Terminal complex (now Industry City) in Sunset Park. Buyers with neither the time nor the inclination to shuttle among 140 buildings on the Brooklyn waterfront could come instead to a tower in the heart of Manhattan, where they would be cosseted in Jacobean splendor at the three-story Buyers’ Club before going upstairs to see the goods.
This grandiose arrangement did not last long. In 1938, only 20 years after opening the tower, the Bush Terminal Company lost it in a foreclosure proceeding. In the name of modernization, subsequent owners wrecked the three Gothic arches that had distinguished the lower facade and inserted a granite storefront that further ruined its proportions.