An ode to construction workers on a 57th Street Art Deco tower

There’s a lot to love about the Fuller Building, the Art Deco-Art Nouveau beauty built in 1929 that rises 40 stories over Madison Avenue and 57th Street.

A few favorites: the black granite facade on the lower floors, geometric designs at the top of the tower, and the medallions on the lobby floor showing various buildings constructed by the Fuller Company, an early developer of steel-skeleton skyscrapers. (These included the Flatiron Building, which was called the Fuller Building when it opened in 1902—but “flatiron” stuck because of the shape of the lot it was built on.)

Perhaps the most eye-catching feature of this iconic tower sits above the entrance: two idealized and shirtless construction workers flanking a clock while standing in front of a cityscape of skyscrapers.

The sculptures, by Elie Nadelman, seem to be an ode to the men who literally constructed the Fuller Building and other mighty towers that raised New York’s skyline higher toward the heavens in the early 20th century.

It makes sense. The Fuller Company was a construction company that depended on the strength and skill of men in the building trades. Without these workers and advancements in engineering, Manhattan would have remained a low-rise metropolis topping out at six or so stories.

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10 Responses to “An ode to construction workers on a 57th Street Art Deco tower”

  1. Marty Oppenheim Says:

    Thank you as always. I didn’t know the sculptures were by Elie Nadelman

  2. countrypaul Says:

    What a beautiful facade! I’ve often said that New York City has so many remarkable buildings that would be monuments elsewhere, but here they just fade into the mix. Thank you for highlighting this one.

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      You’re welcome! I was walking by it recently and took a closer look and was just blown away, We get so used to these artistic monuments here, it’s easy to never stop and realize how stunning they are.

  3. Lilia Morsellil Says:

    Wonderful building built by great workers that had pride in their work.
    God Bless that America, and legal immigrants that wanted to be
    Americans – like my dear parents & in-laws- contributors made this
    a great country with rewards of a free life NOT CROOKS – like the
    government is today.

  4. Critifur Says:

    Beautiful building! Thank you for the interesting info, and all the effort it takes to produce your site.

  5. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    My pleasure!

  6. velovixen Says:

    Beautiful building! Thanks for the post, and all of the work you do.

    It’s sad that so much of 57th Street has become a faceless tide of glass and steel that’s engulfed so much else in its path. I’m glad to read about at least one “survivor” with character!

  7. Bernie Mcgrath Says:

    I worked in the Fuller building and worked for the George a Fuller Company. I worked in the building from when I started with the company in 1962 until we moved around 1981. I always marveled at the bronze doors on the elevators which showed construction scenes. Anytime I am in the city I stop in and admire the workmanship. You wont find this workmanship today all the tradesmen are long gone. A beautiful Building, I loved reading this and it brought back great memories. I remember the special elevator the Fuller Company had for employees only.

  8. This Art Deco skyscraper on 57th Street rightfully celebrates itself | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] is outside the building as well. Above the entrance is a sculpture of workmen framed around a clock and a relief of the cityscape. Construction themes are reflected on the elevators, and the upper […]

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