Historic Walks: New York – Skyscraper City

New York’s skyline is world famous – and it’s punctuated by the silhouettes of some of the most iconic skyscrapers in the world.

Historic Walks: New York - Skyscraper City

1. Flatiron Building (23rd St & 5th Ave)

Built in 1902, resembling an Italian Renaissance Palazzo it was originally called the Fuller Building and its more familiar name derives from the public fondness to nickname it after a common household iron. Upon completion in 1902 it was one of the tallest buildings in the city and the only skyscraper north of 14th Street. It is best appreciated from the outside as it is officially not open to the public for tours.

2. Chrysler Building (42nd St & Lexington Ave)

Manhattan_Print2Built in 1930 it was once the tallest building in the world before it was surpassed by the Empire State Building in 1931. The Chrysler Building is a classic example of Art Deco architecture. It was the headquarters of the Chrysler Corporation from 1930 until the mid-1950s and although constructed specifically for the car manufacturer, the corporation did not pay for it and never owned it as Chrysler decided to pay for it himself, for his children to inherit. As the public viewing gallery on the 71st floor was closed in 1945, getting an inside peek is more difficult that getting an outside one. Only the lobby is open to the public although an appointment with dentist Dr Charles Weiss would guarantee a view from the 69th floor and the iconic triangular windows at the top!

3. Empire State Building (5th Ave between 33rd and 34th St)

Completed in 1931 and featured in more than 200 movies, this icon of New York was the winner in the 1920s race to build the world’s tallest skyscraper, trumping the Chrysler building by 250 ft. it stood as the world’s tallest building for 40 years, from its completion in 1931 until construction of the World Trade Center’s North Tower was completed in 1972. It is named by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Observation decks on the 86th and 102nd floors are open 365 days a year to public.

4. Rockefeller Center (5th Ave between 48th & 51st St)

Originally conceived as a profit motivated real estate venture by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., The Rockefeller Center is now combination of two complexes – the original art deco development completed in 1939 and a later quartet of international towers build in the 1960’s and 70’s. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. took on the enormous project as sole financier after the stock market crash in 1929 forced him to cancel plans for a syndicate to build an opera house for the Metropolitan Opera, it initially cost an estimated $250 Million. A staggering sum in 1930. It was The public observation deck the Top of the Rock spanning the 67th-70th floors are open to the public daily from 8am-Midnight. For more information see: www.rockefellercenter.com

5. Lever House (390 Park Avenue, at 53rd Street)

historic-walks-new-york-new-york-from-above-04Built as the American headquarters of the British soap company Lever Brothers, Lever House was New York’s first glass-curtain-wall skyscraper. Constructed in 1952, it established the model for nearly every office building that rose in the city for the next 50 years. In 1982 it was designated an official landmark by New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, although much of its original façade had deteriorated by then. In 1998, following its acquisition by RFR Holding LLC, it underwent a $25 Million improvement program replacing the weathered glass, steel subframe. and renovating the public spaces. Public access is generally limited to the plaza and lobby which now houses regular art exhibitions throughout the year.

6. Seagram Building (375 Park Ave, between 52nd and 53rd St)

Considered to be the supreme example of the “International Style” – shorthand for the steel and glass towers which were emblematic of the post-war years. The building was designed as the headquarters for the Canadian distillers Joseph E. Seagram’s & Sons. Upon completion it became the world’s most expensive skyscraper at the time, due to the use of expensive quality materials and lavish interior decoration including bronze, travertine, and marble. It’s plaza area is a very popular public gathering space which New York City authorities later incentivized other developers to emulate. The inside area is mainly private office space and not open to the public, although public access is available at the famous Four Seasons Restaurant also located within the building.

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