From bars to swimming pools to gardens, we’ve seen lots of things on NYC rooftops. But a World War I fighter plane? Now that’s a first. Those who work in the Financial District have probably walked by 77 Water Street without ever noticing the replica 1916 British Sopwith Camel biplane sitting atop the building on an Astroturf runway. So what the heck is the place doing there?
The rooftop fighter plane is a fun sight that can be seen from 77 Water Street’s neighboring skyscrapers. The William Kaufman Organization, which owns the building, explained that it wanted to humanize the structure and give it neighbors a more pleasant view than boring air conditioning equipment.
Sarasota, Florida sculptor William Tarr constructed the replica based on designs produced by American graphic designer Rudolph de Harak. The homage to war times was originally constructed on the streets of New York in 1969, after which crane workers hoisted it up to its final resting place.
The fighter plane isn’t the only curious sight at the Kaufman building. There’s also a reproduction penny candy store that operates as a convenience store as well as public art displays including Pamela Waters’ “Herring-Like Fishes Swimming Upstream,” another sculpture by William Tarr titled “Rejected Skin,” and a set of playful benches named the “Month of June” by George Adamy.