As you can imagine, many New York City buildings have their own rich histories. Even though I’m partial to the old classic styles, I still love some of the new buildings. And I’m thrilled when I notice the way the sun highlights a color that makes a building I’m used to seeing look new and exciting. If I have my camera and I’m not in a hurry, I usually stop and take a photo.
I’ve been fortunate to have visited many, worked in a few and pass by a number of them on my way to and from work everyday. Here are some of my favorites.
- The Chrysler Building. At 1,047 feet, this Art Deco building, located at 405 Lexington Avenue, was the world’s tallest building from 1930 when it was completed, to 1931 when the Empire State Building edged it out. It is now the second tallest building in New York City after the new Bank of America Tower and the world’s tallest steel supported brick building. No workers died during its construction despite its four floors a week building pace. Although it was built for the Chrysler Corporation and served as its headquarters until the 1950, the Chrysler Building was a project for Walter P. Chrysler’s children. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a U.S. National Historic Landmark.
- Grand Central Terminal: Built and owned by the Vanderbilt family, Grand Central Terminal opened in 1871. Located at 89 E 42nd Street, it spans 48 acres and is the largest train station in the world by number of platforms: 44. It serves commuters from Connecticut and New York’s northern counties as well as subway riders. Over 750,000 people pass through Grand Central every day, more than 1 million during the holiday season. The main concourse (275 feet long, 120 feet wide and 125 feet high) houses the information booth. With its four-faced opal clock, estimated to be worth between $10-20 million, is a popular meeting place in this very busy station. Following a 12-year restoration, a beautiful ceiling decorated with constellations of stars was revealed and is now one of the terminal’s attractions. Grand Central Terminal is a New York City Landmark, a National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- The Flatiron Building. Completed in 1902, this iconic triangular-shaped Beaux-Arts building is located at 150 Fifth Avenue in New York’s Flatiron District. At the time it was completed, it was one of the tallest buildings in the city and the only skyscraper north of 14th Street. Its location renders it susceptible to wind currents but with its steel construction, it can withstand four times the amount of wind force it’s expected to feel. Current tenants include St. Martin’s Press, Picador, and Henry Holt and Company. The Flatiron Building is a New York City Landmark and a U.S. National Historic Landmark. It is also on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
- Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower: From its construction in 1909, the Met Life Tower was the company’s world headquarters until 2005. Located at One Madison Avenue, it was the world’s tallest building until 1913 when the Woolworth Building surpassed it. There are clock faces on four sides of the building, from the 25th to the 27th floors. Each face is 26 ½ feet in diameter; each number 4 feet tall. The minute hands weigh half a ton. The Met Life Building is now the home of Credit Suisse, among other tenants. It is a New York City Landmark, a National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places
- The G.E. Building. The Art Deco G.E. Building, popularly known as the headquarters of NBC, is located at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, “30 Rock.” Completed in 1933 as part of Rockefeller Center, it was named the RCA Building after its primary tenant, Radio Corporation of America, which was formed by General Electric in 1919. It was the first building constructed with elevators centered in its main core. In 2005, an observation deck, offering the best panoramic views of the city opened on top of the building.
- Empire State Building: This 102-story building, located at 350 Fifth Avenue, stands at 1250 feet tall. Its antenna adds another 204 feet and makes it today, the tallest building in New York City and the third tallest in the country. The spire was built as a mooring mast and depot for dirigibles. The 102nd floor was designed as a landing platform with a dirigible gangplank. Floodlights were added in 1964 to highlight the building in appropriate colors on special occasions like July 4th, Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day, etc. The Empire State Building has been named one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. It is a New York City Landmark, a U.S. National Historic Landmark and is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
- The Woolworth Building: Located at 233 Broadway, opposite City Hall, the Neo-Gothic Woolworth Building is one of New York’s oldest skyscrapers and stands 57 stories high. When it opened in 1913, it was the tallest building in the world, a designation it enjoyed for 27 years until the construction of the Chrysler Building and 40 Wall Street. The Woolworth Building was owned by the Woolworth Company for 85 years until it was sold in 1998. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark.
- 40 Wall Street: Known now as the Trump Building, 40 Wall Street was originally the Bank of Manhattan building. It was constructed during a time of unprecedented competition to build the tallest skyscraper. Originally designed as an 840-foot structure, plans were changed and at 927 feet it was the tallest building in the world when it was completed in 1930. But the Chrysler Building toppled it from its perch when a stainless steel spire was added later bringing that building’s height to 1,047 feet. 40 Wall is a New York City Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- 33 Liberty Street: Currently the home of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 33 Liberty holds 25% of the world’s existing gold bullion that is owned by 36 different governments. The gold is located in a vault, which sits 50 feet below sea level. 33 Liberty was completed in 1924 and is a New York City Historic Landmark. It is also on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Carnegie Hall: Built by and named after philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie, in 1891, this Italian Renaissance building located at 881 Seventh Avenue, is one of the most prestigious venues for classical and popular music. It presents more than 200 performances each season. Its main hall seats more than 2,800 on five levels, with the top level balcony accessible only by climbing 137 steps. Carnegie Hall is a New York City Landmark as well as a National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Buildings
- Central Synagogue: Built in 1872, this Moorish Revival style synagogue is a copy of Budapest’s Dohány Street Synagogue, which pays tribute to Jews who lived in Moorish Spain. It is among the oldest synagogues in the United States. The Central Synagogue, a National Historic Landmark, is located at 652 Lexington Avenue.
- The Cathedral of St. Patrick: More than 5 million people visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral, as it is commonly known, each year. This Neo-Gothic style church is the seat of the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York. St. Patrick’s Cathedral was designed by architect James Renwick, Jr., and completed in 1878. It is a National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings.