A gleamingly restored building at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 13th Street now educates young minds, but in the early 20th century it was actually the home to what would become one of the largest multi-national corporations known for darkening more than a few lungs.
The seven story building at 72 Fifth Avenue was erected in 1893 as a warehouse; its style and ornamentation is very characteristic of loft warehouse buildings in this area at the time. By 1917, however, the building was occupied by Philip Morris, which fifteen years earlier had been incorporated in New York (Phillip Morris began in 1847 on Bond Street in London, when a young man named Philip Morris opened a small tobacco shop; eight years later, Morris began to produce his own cigarettes. When he died in 1873, his widow Margaret and brother Leopold took over the business, and by 1885 the company had become international in scope and was officially named Philip Morris & Co. LTD.).
Until the 1930s, the building was owned by the estate of Katherine Lorrilard. Throughout the 1940s, a bank was located on the ground floor. In 1960, Ginn & Company publishers occupied three floors of the space, totaling 15,000 square feet.
Philip Morris relocated to Fifth Avenue and 19th Street in 1938. The building changed hands and occupants several times and today, after undergoing a thorough cleaning and renovation in 2011, is now the home to the New School’s Milano School for Urban Policy.