A Climbing Skyline
The old Daniels-Elgin Building, shown in this historic photograph, was an antique even when this photo was taken in the early 20th century. Originally built on the east end of Dauphin Street in the 1860s, to this day, it carries significance in architectural circles. The cast-iron facade, based on Venetian palazzos, is a one-of-a-kind creation ordered from a Badger Iron Works sales catalog. The four-story office building has sister structures in Cairo, Cuba and New York, among other far-flung locales.
Over time, the exterior of the building has remained much the same as it was at construction. However, from the inside looking out, the view has radically changed beyond any imaginings of its original tenants. The Van Antwerp Building, Alabama’s first skyscraper, seen at the far right in the contemporary photo, came along in 1907, towering 11 stories and 120 feet above Dauphin Street.
It wasn’t until 1965, with the completion of the First National Bank Building’s 33 stories (now the RSA-BankTrust tower) that the Daniels-Elgin Building became completely dwarfed. But, as we all know, the skyline didn’t stop there.
Now, right across the street from the the classic iron-front Daniels-Elgin, stands Alabama’s tallest building, the RSA Tower. At 745 feet tall, the edifice soars above the vintage structure by the distance of almost two and a half football fields.