New Global Headquarters Opens at 85 Broad Street

Theme: Culture

In 1983, Goldman Sachs opens its newly constructed headquarters building at 85 Broad Street in New York City’s financial district.

In 1976, Goldman Sachs undertook a survey of its New York City office space needs looking five years out. At the time, the firm had offices at 55 Broad Street and 55 Water Street in lower Manhattan totaling approximately 270,000 square feet. The study concluded that, should the firm grow at a rate of 10 percent each year, by 1982 Goldman Sachs would need an additional 100,000 square feet of office space.

After exploring several options for meeting the growing need for square footage, including staying at its current locations and leasing space in nearby buildings, the firm decided to construct an entirely new building to house all of its approximately 1,500 New York employees in a single location. Goldman Sachs issued a press release on October 14, 1980 outlining its plans to construct a one million square-foot world headquarters building at 85 Broad Street. It would be the first major office building to be constructed in the city’s financial district in the previous ten years and make Goldman Sachs one of the few Wall Street firms to own its own building.

The building site—at the time, a parking lot—was historically significant. In the mid-1600s, it was the location of the official Stadt Huys, or Town Hall, of the City of New Amsterdam. After the city passed from Dutch to British hands in 1665, English Governor Francis Lovelace (appointed in 1668) built a tavern next door to it that would serve as an interim city hall. In the years and centuries that followed, the site remained a nexus of trade and commerce in what would become the city’s financial district.

Goldman Sachs cooperated with New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission as it conducted a year-long archaeological excavation of the site—the most ambitious dig in the city’s history—before construction could begin. Among the four tons of material unearthed in the excavation were a barrel filled with wine and rum bottles, clay pipes dating to the turn of the 17th century, and countless bits of pottery. Some of these relics, including a portion of the brick wall of the original Stadt Huys, would be permanently displayed in the new building’s lobby.

In October of 1980, ground was broken at the site. In attendance were Goldman Sachs senior partners John L. Weinberg and John C. Whitehead, New York Governor Hugh Carey, Mayor Edward Koch and officials from both the Dutch and British Consulates. At the ceremony, Weinberg told the crowd, “Our firm was founded not far from this location 111 years ago in a one-room basement office. The present construction reflects our optimism both for our firm and for the future of the securities industry in New York’s financial district.”

The first occupants moved into the 30-story, 12-sided red-brown granite aggregate building in May 1983. 85 Broad Street would serve as the firm’s global headquarters until late 2009, when it began the move to its current home at 200 West Street