A Tribeca eyesore built to withstand nuclear war

LonglinesbuildingTribeca is a wonderland of 19th century buildings, from brick warehouses to Federal-style homes.

But one 550-foot Brutalist building that looms over Thomas Street, a hulk of pink windowless granite that looks like a giant Lego block, harkens back to the height of the Cold War.

This is the AT&T Long Lines Building, built in 1974 to house crucial telecommunications equipment.

LonglinesbuildingDesigned with disaster in mind, the structure was built like a fortress to withstand a nuclear blast and be self-sufficient for two weeks, in the event of a nuclear attack on New York City.

“The interiors were designed with high ceilings and large floor plates, spaces where telephone-switching equipment is housed and can be easily maintained,” wrote the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

“Aesthetic choices were, in part, also shaped by security concerns.”

“Not only is the Thomas Street entrance raised far above the sidewalk (similar to the plan of One World Trade Center), but this critical communications facility was also reportedly planned to withstand a nuclear blast.”


Unlike other former telecommunications buildings, the Long Lines building, quite imposing and with no windows, is probably never destined to be turned into co-ops.

[Second photo: Andrew St. Clair/Flickr; third photo: nyc-architecture.com]

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5 Responses to “A Tribeca eyesore built to withstand nuclear war”

  1. S.S. Says:

    Thanks for explaining this mystery. Could never understand why it looked like that.

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Thanks, it certainly sticks out.

  3. trilby1895 Says:

    Thanks for the explanation; at least there’s a good reason for it’s lack of aesthetic appeal.

  4. justme3362 Says:

    I always figured it’s used to house something much more sinister!

  5. Rich T Says:

    Being from the Midwest, it reminds me a bit of a grain elevator, of a modern day Bastille.

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