Prudential Financial, as it is known today, began as The Widows and Orphans Friendly Society in 1875. For a short time it was called the Prudential Friendly Society, and for many years after 1877 it was known as the Prudential Insurance Company of America, a name still widely in use. Based in Newark, New Jersey, the company has constructed a number of buildings to house its headquarters downtown in the Four Corners district around Broad and Halsey streets. In addition to its own offices, the corporation has financed large projects in the city, including Gateway Center and Prudential Center. Prudential has about 5,200 employees in the city.
The four original Prudential headquarters buildings were built from 1892 to 1911 as early examples of steel framing in Newark, clad in gray Indiana limestone with Romanesque Gothic styling, the work of George B. Post. The four buildings were known as the Main, the North, the West, and the Northwest and were the tallest in the city at the turn of the 20th century. All were demolished in 1956 to make way for the current headquarters. The proposed 45-story Prudential Tower would have been one of the tallest in Newark had it been built.
The Gibraltar Building, headquarters for the financial services company until 1986, is situated between two other office towers later built for the firm, all of which are connected by underground passage The name is inspired by the company's logo, the Rock of Gibraltar. The Gothic Revival structure was designed by the architect Cass Gilbert, renowned for many works including the Woolworth Building and the United States Supreme Court Building. Gilbert was also architect for the Kinney Building at the southeast corner of Broad and Market Streets. Sold in 1987 and later renovated and restored, it now is home the Superior Court of New Jersey's Essex County Vicinage Family Court, Chancery, and Tax Court, as well as other government agencies and private enterprises.
Shortly after Prudential Building was completed in 1942, it was taken over by the federal government for use by the Office of Dependency Benefits (ODB), which was moved to Newark from Washington during World War II. The ODB was responsible for payments to military dependents and their families. Work went on round the clock at 213 Washington Street until it was returned to Prudential in 1946.
Prudential's current headquarters, the Prudential Plaza, opened in 1960 during the New Newark era when modernist buildings were built downtown. The International style building is one the tallest and most prominent on the Newark skyline. The facade of Vermont marble includes 1600 windows set in aluminum frames. On August 1, 2004, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced the discovery of terrorist threats against the Plaza prompting large-scale security measures such as concrete barriers and internal security changes such as X-ray machines.
The lobby of building was originally adorned with triptych of mosaics designed by Hildreth Meiere entitled “The Pillars of Hercules”. The panels had been removed and put in storage; two were formally installed at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C. and another in Newark Museum.
In 2011, Prudential announced plans to construct another office tower near the Plaza headquarters. The company had received a $250 million urban transit tax credit, from the state, which required that it create new jobs and build within walking distance of a transit hub. The site of the $444 million 650,000 sq ft (60,000 m2) tower is on Broad Street just west of Military Park. Construction began in July 2013. The exterior of the tower was completed as of January 2015 and the building opened in July 2015.
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