Posts Tagged ‘Met Life Tower’

Working girls in a New York office in 1910

September 5, 2013

No, not that kind of working girl. These are the young women who spent their days as clerks more than 100 years ago, filling out forms and filing papers in the new office culture of the 20th century.

Metlifepostcard

They sit at desks instead of cubicles, rely on pens and paper rather than computers, and wear the same tidy outfit and hairstyle. They don’t appear much different than the office workers of today.

This image comes from a postcard of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company actuary office. Perhaps it’s a floor in the lovely tower on 23rd Street that still stands today.

Madison Square before the Met Life Tower

May 6, 2013

Before the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company tower went up in 1909, Met Life had a smaller headquarters at East 23rd Street and Madison Avenue.

MadisonSquareMetLifepostcard

It’s the stately building on the corner in this October 1906 postcard, which notes the “New and Old Parkhurst Churches” next door.

Charles Henry Parkhurst was a Presbyterian minister and social reformer who gained fame in 1892 when he railed against corruption at Tammany Hall from his pulpit. His efforts led to housecleaning and reform inside the Democratic political machine.

The churches, the then-brand new one at the far left and the old Gothic-style church next to it, long ago got the heave ho.

Changing views of Park Avenue in the East 50s

January 28, 2013

Has any of Manhattan’s avenues changed as much over the past 100 years as Park Avenue? Known as Fourth Avenue until the late 19th century, it was cut with railroad tracks, as evident in this 1905 photo looking south from 56th Street.

Parkavenue56thstreet1905

“Because of increased traffic, smoke and noise, the city eventually required the railroad to lower its tracks into an open cut or tunnel from 46th to 96th Streets,” according to New York Then and Now, published in 1976.

“Here we see seven tracks, of which three are temporary, while new tracks are being laid preparatory to electrification. A retaining wall is being built on each side of the cut to allow additional space for an enlarged station approach.”

On the left before the bridge at 54th Street is a Steinway piano factory, in front of the Schaefer Brewery, with the cupola, which once stood at 51st Street.

Parkavenue56thstreet1975

By 1975, when the second photo was taken, Park Avenue in midtown had become a posh canyon of office towers and a few luxury apartment houses.

The center structure is the New York Central building (now the Helmsley Building), right in front of the Pan Am Building, which opened in 1963.

Parkaveeast56thstreet2013

Today, this juncture resembles its 1975 incarnation—except the trees planted on the mall have grown taller, and the Pan Am Building is the Met Life Building, purchased from Pan Am in 1981.

[Top two photos from New York Then and Now, Dover]


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