Madison Square before the Met Life Tower

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


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.

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5 Responses to “Madison Square before the Met Life Tower”

  1. Scott Fuchs Says:

    Let us not leave out Parkhurst’s ‘crusade’ against the Tenderloin and its ensuing scandal.
    Bock and Harnicks 1960 musical “Tenderloin” was a Broadwayized retelling of its history

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Yes, thank you, Parkhurst was quite the anti-vice crusader.

  3. Bob_in_MA Says:

    I don’t think Parkurst’s efforts led to much reform within Tammany. There were always anti-Tammany Democrats, who would sometimes team up with Republicans to promote fusion tickets.

    Tammany won power back in 1897 and a couple years later they made the notoriously corrupt Devery (Roosevelt’s nemesis) police chief.

    I just read Richard Zacks’ book on Roosevelt’s time as police commissioner. If you haven’t read it, you might find interesting. Much of it the story has been told elsewhere, but he paints a very realistic (unflattering) portrait of Roosevelt.

    Thanks again for the posts!

  4. Bob_in_MA Says:

    Sorry, I don’t know how that happened. I just cut-and-pasted the URL from the top of the Amazon page for the book.

  5. Working girls in a New York office in 1910 | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company actuary office. Perhaps it’s a floor in the lovely tower on 23rd Street that still stands […]

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