Posts Tagged ‘New York City skyscrapers’

The world’s tallest building for one year only

March 17, 2014

Opened in 1908, the slender, elegant Singer Tower, headquarters of the sewing machine company, rose more than 40 stories over Broadway and Liberty Street.

A marvel in its day, it spent one year as the tallest building in the world, only to be usurped by the Metropolitan Life Tower on 23rd Street in 1909.


Tourists paid 50 cents to visit its 40th floor observation deck. It was prominently featured in postcards, like this one above.

SingertowerLOCSixty years later, it met the wrecking ball.

“High above the intersection of Broadway and Liberty Street yesterday, a demolition torch blazed against the hazy sky as a steelworker cut into a beam on the tallest building ever to be demolished,” reported The New York Times on March 27, 1968.

“Yesterday the lobby looked as if a bomb had hit it. The Italian-marble surfacing and the bronze medallions with the Singer monogram were stripped from many columns and were being offered for sale.

“Holes pocked the elaborately sculptured pendentives that support the series of domes forming the ceiling. Plaster flaked onto a floor strewn with wood, shattered brick and discarded coffee cups.”

The tin-roof facade of a midtown skyscraper

June 7, 2010

The Socony-Mobil building, built in 1956 at 42nd Street between Lexington and Third Avenues, was an office tower way ahead of its time.

The world’s first stainless steel skyscraper, this former headquarters of Mobil Oil was sheathed in thousands of panels studded with pyrimid-like designs.

Some early reviewers called the 42-story tower the “waffle building.” Architectural critic Lewis Mumford wrote that the building looked like it had the measles.

But the stamped, tin ceiling–like facade gained enough fans over the next five decades to garner landmark status in 2003.