A welcoming presence


Photo: Madeleine Thompson

Willie Hawkins

Doorman — Downtown

The job is no longer work for him — it’s more like an adventure

BY MADELEINE THOMPSON

Willie Hawkins has been at 270 Broadway since it was still under construction and he was the only doorman. But his connection to Lower Manhattan goes back much farther. Hawkins was assistant manager during the evening shift at Windows on the World at the Twin Towers in 2001 and was supposed to be at work on September 11. He wasn’t. “We lost a total of 77 and I lost two from my staff,” he recalls, choking up.

To this day he doesn’t work on September 11, sometimes choosing to visit his son and two grandsons in Philadelphia.

In his 15 years at 270 Broadway, Hawkins has become a well-known face to the residents of its roughly 85 units, and he has grown close to most of them over the years. He is fond of the building’s atmosphere and its family-oriented feel. Hawkins is a veteran of the industry: Before coming to 270 Broadway he was a doorman on the Upper East Side.

He says there’s no hard part of his job when you love it as much as he does. Asked what the work is like day-to-day, he says, “fantastic.”

“I leave home to come home,” he says.

“This used to be work for me, now it’s an adventure.” He has seen three sets of twins born and raised under his watch.

Hawkins was born in Rochester, but moved to the city when he was 2. He considers himself a native city kid. He lives in the Bronx now, close to his mom.

He prizes visits with his two children and four grandchildren, going to comedy shows and traveling to Las Vegas, Florida, and Puerto Rico.

Hawkins’ 60- to 80-member extended family has been having annual summer barbecues in Manhasset State Park for the last 41 years.

He could see himself having a second home someday, maybe in North Carolina, but he says he’d never leave the city for good. “Too much quiet’s not good,” he jokes.