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Old Posted Feb 5, 2010, 4:11 AM
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Brick and Mortar: Tallest Buildings of New York City, 1950

In 1950, most big American cities had small clusters of skyscrapers downtown. A few cities (Detroit, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, etc.) had a handful over 400 feet. Chicago had twelve over 500 feet. Cleveland had Terminal Tower, close to 800 feet tall.

And then there was New York City.

Any statistical way you look at it, New York was the king of high rise cities. In 1950 the world had 160 buildings over 400 feet. New York alone accounted for 87 of those. Over half of the world's tall buildings in one city--that was the dominance of Gotham. Of the world's ten tallest buildings, nine were in the Big Apple. (The one exception was the Terminal Tower.) Of the thirty tallest, 22 were in New York.

In the five boroughs alone, 7,891,957 people lived. That's 5% of the entire national population. Overseeing the massive city was Mayor William O'Dwyer, who was replaced in August by Vincent Impellitteri. LaGuardia's eleven-year term had ended five years earlier. This was the era of Robert Moses, the man who reshaped New York's urban structure and who remains shrouded in controversy.

1950 was baseball's golden era, and no team dominated like the New York Yankees. The Bronx Bombers had won the '47 and '49 World Series, and would wind up winning the next four in a row, and a total of nine in 14 years by 1962. 1950 was a transition season, as old veterans like Joe DiMaggio played alongside new players such as Yogi Berra. Next year would be both the Yankee Clipper's farewell and the rookie season for Mickey Mantle. There were two other baseball teams, the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers. Both teams had been in the Series in decades past, but at the start of the '50s were at the tail end of lulls. Young stars and new glory were on their way (including their first ring in '55 for the Dodgers), but so was a move to sunnier pastures seven years down the road...

The New York metro area already included a ring of suburbs by 1950, such as the iconic Levitown. Across the Hudson were two more major cities, Newark and Jersey City. One website estimates that the convoluted metropolitan area was home to 12.5 million people, making the New York area the largest city in the world.

Slender towers zooming above the narrow streets of Lower Manhattan. The forest of Midtown buildings blending together from a distance. Street canyons stretching as far as the eye can see. Bustling sidewalks and churning docks. A city teeming with life. This was New York in 1950.


(Flickr)


(Museum of the City of New York)


(Monroe Gallery)


(Wired New York)


(Flickr)

Times Square:

(Blogspot)


(caryconover.com)

(Note on addresses: For Lower Manhattan, I put the street address. For Midtown, the intersection is listed.)

1) Empire State Building, SW corner of 5th Ave and 34th St, 1250 ft to roof, 1931
For forty-two years, the world's tallest building

(brooklynprints.com)

(citywidepride.org)

2) Chrysler Building, NE corner of Lexington & 42nd St, 1046 ft to spire, 1930

(Wordpress)

3) 70 Pine Street, 952 ft to spire, 1932
Now the American International Building


(Both from Photobucket)

4) 40 Wall Street, 927 ft, 1930
Now the Trump Building

(Wikimedia)

5) RCA Building, 49th St between 5th and 6th Aves, 850 ft, 1933
Now the GE Building, known as 30 Rock(efeller Plaza)

(canoe.ca)

6) Woolworth Building, 233 Broadway, 792 ft, 1913
The world's tallest building for seventeen years.

(Flickr)

7) 20 Exchange Place, 741 ft, 1931

(gothamist.com)

8) 500 Fifth Avenue, NW corner of 42nd St & 5th Ave, 709 ft, 1931

(Flickr)

9) Met Life Tower, 1 Madison Ave, 700 ft, 1909

(tungstenproperty.com)

10) Lincoln Building, SW corner of Park Ave and 42nd St, 673 ft, 1930

(wirednewyork.com)

11) Irving Trust Company Building, 1 Wall St, 654 ft, 1932
Now Bank of New York Building

(carnets-voyage.com)

12) Chanin Building, SE corner of Park Ave and 42nd St, 649 ft, 1929

(tungstenproperty.com)

13) General Electric Building, SW corner of Lexington Ave and 51st St, 640 ft, 1931
Today 570 Lexington Avenue

(Flickr)

14) Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, NE corner of Park Ave and 49th St, 625 ft, 1931

(urbika.com)

15) Mercantile Building, 40th St between Madison and 5th Aves, 620 ft, 1929

(urbika.com)


16) New York Life Building, NE corner of 26th St and Madison Ave, 615 ft, 1928

(Flickr)

17) Singer Building, 149 Broadway, 612 ft, 1908
This is the tallest building ever peacefully demolished (in 1968 to make way for One Liberty Plaza).

(hudsoncity.net)

18) Municipal Building, 1 Center St, 600 ft to statue, 1914

(deadprogrammer.com)

19) Foley Square Courthouse, 40 Foley Square, 590 ft, 1936
Today named in honor of Thurgood Marshall.

(vertical-access.com)

20) New York Central Building, over Park Avenue at 46th St, 565 ft, 1929
Now the Helmsley Building

(nyc-architecture.com)

21) Continental Bank Building, 30 Broad St, 561 ft, 1932

(nyc-architecture.com)

22) Nelson Tower, NW corner of 7th Ave and 34th St, 560 ft, 1931

(petergof.com)

23) Sherry-Netherland Hotel, NE corner of 5th Ave and 59th St, 560 ft, 1927

(newyorkarchitecture.info)

24) Equitable Trust Company Building, 15 Broad St, 551 ft, 1927
Now a residental tower, Downtown by Philippe Starck

(amazonaws.com)

25) Transportation Building, 225 Broadway, 545 ft, 1927
Next door to the Woolworth Building

(Flickr)

26) Ritz Tower, NE corner of Park Ave and 57th St, 541 ft, 1926

(aviewoncities.com)

27) Bankers Trust Company Building, 14 Wall St, 538 ft, 1912

(skyscraper.org)

28) Equitable Building, 120 Broadway, 538 ft, 1915

(tungstenproperty.com)

29) Lefcourt Colonial Building, SE corner of Madison Ave and 41st St, 538 ft, 1930

(Wired New York)

30) Du Mont Building, NE corner of Madison Ave and 53rd St, 532 ft, 1931

(Wikimedia)

31) Hotel Pierre, SE corner of 5th Ave and 61st St, 525 ft, 1929

(readio.com)

32) Standard Oil Building, 26 Broadway, 520 ft, 1914
Now known by its address

(earthinpictures.com)

33) The Downtown Athletic Club, 19 West St, 518 ft, 1930

(Flickr)

34) Newsweek Building, NW corner of Madison Ave and 49th St, 518 ft, 1931

(Flickr)

35) Mutual of New York Building, NE corner of Broadway and 55th St, 516 ft to spire, 1950
Now known as 1740 Broadway

(Flickr)

36) Consolidated Gas Building, 4 Irving Place, 515 ft to spire, 1928

(nyc-architecture.com)

37) Bank of New York & Trust Building, 48 Wall St, 513 ft, 1929

(Flickr)

38) 1407 Broadway, NW corner of Broadway and 38th St, 512 ft, 1950

(amazonaws.com)

39) International Building, NW corner of 5th Ave and 50th St, 512 ft, 1935

(newyorkarchitecture.info)

40) Navarre Building, SW corner of 7th Ave and 38th St, 512 ft, 1930

(Imageshack)

41) Republic National Bank Building, 1 Hanson Place, Brooklyn, 512 ft, 1929
Tallest building in Brooklyn

(Wordpress)

42) Continental Building, NE corner of Broadway and 40th St, 511 ft, 1931

(cityrealty.com)

UC) United Nations Secretariat Building, 505 ft, 1952

(Wired New York)

43) Johns-Manville Building, 40th St between 5th and Madison Aves, 503 ft, 1931

(Emporis)

44) Lefcourt National Building, NE corner of 5th Ave and 43rd St, 503 ft, 1929

(Emporis)

45) Barclay-Vesey Building, 140 West St, 499 ft, 1926
This is the historic skyscraper in photos of the World Trade Center

(macrostiehistoric.com)

46) Chase National Bank Building, 18 Pine St, 495 ft, 1928

(americanleisure.com)

47) Fuller Building, 57th St between Madison and Park Ave, 492 ft, 1929

(nyc-architecture.com)

48) Time-Life Building, 49th St between 5th and 6th Ave, 489 ft, 1937

(Emporis)

49) City Investing Building, 165 Broadway, 487 ft, 1908
Demolished in 1968 with the Singer Building to make way for One Liberty Plaza

(lileks.com)

50) McGraw-Hill Building, 42nd St between 8th and 9th Ave, 485 ft, 1931

(Wired New York)

51) Daily News Building, 42nd St between 2nd and 3rd Ave, 476 ft, 1930

(Flickr)

52) New Yorker Hotel, SW corner of 8th Ave and 35th St, 470 ft, 1930

(nypc.org)

53) Hampshire House, 59th St between 6th and 7th Ave, 469 ft, 1938

(jrdaly.com)

54) Greenwich Club Building, 19 Rector St, 466 ft, 1930

(Flickr)

55) Montague-Court Building, 16 Montague St, Brooklyn, 464 ft, 1927

(Wikimedia)

56) Essex House, 59th St between 6th and 7th Aves, 461 ft, 1931

(readio.com)

57) Barbizon Plaza Hotel, SW corner of 6th Ave and 59th St, 456 ft, 1930
Now the Trump Parc Condominiums

(cityrealty.com)

58) Met Life North Building, SE corner of Madison Ave and 25th St, 451 ft, 1950

(nyc-architecture.com)

59) 50 Broadway, 448 ft, 1927

(Emporis)

60) 1400 Broadway, NW corner of Broadway and 38th St, 446 ft, 1931

(Emporis)

61) Harriman Building, 39 Broadway, 444 ft, 1928

(Emporis)

62) 100 Park Avenue, NW corner of Park Ave and 40th St, 443 ft, 1949

(New York Sun)

63) Wall and Hanover Building, 63 Wall St, 438 ft, 1929
Now a residential building, The Crest

(Flickr)


(Flickr)

64) Daily Commerce Building, 44th St between Lexington and 3rd Ave, 437 ft, 1931

(Emporis)

65) 745 Fifth Avenue, SE corner of 5th Ave and 58th St, 435 ft, 1931

(Glass, Steel, and Stone)

66) Bush Tower, 42nd St between 6th Ave and Broadway, 433 ft, 1917

(newyorkarchitecture.info)

67) ITT Building, 67 Broad St, 433 ft, 1928

(wiredspace.com)

68) National City Bank Building, 52 Wall St, 433 ft, 1928
Demolished to make way for 60 Wall Street, in the lower right.

(nyc-architecture.com)

69) Bank of the U.S., SE corner of 5th Ave and 45th St, 432 ft, 1926

(Emporis)

UC) Calyon Building, NW corner of 3rd Ave and 42nd St, 432 ft, 1951

(Flickr)

70) Paramount Building, NW corner of Broadway and 43rd St, 431 ft, 1927

(Flickr)

More to come...
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Like the pre-war masonry skyscrapers? Then check out my list of the tallest buildings in 1950.

Last edited by ChiSoxRox; Nov 25, 2011 at 2:19 AM. Reason: 48 Wall, 1407 Broadway
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  #2  
Old Posted Feb 21, 2010, 2:39 AM
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Thanks for the photo excursion of NYC great stock of pre-1950's building. I am a great fan of these buildings because they represent an era of craftmanship that I don't believe will ever be duplicated. One note, photo #57 The Trump Parc Condominiums, you might want to check that one, I don't think it correct.
Can't wait to see the rest again nice worK
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  #3  
Old Posted Feb 21, 2010, 2:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Antares41 View Post
Thanks for the photo excursion of NYC great stock of pre-1950's building. I am a great fan of these buildings because they represent an era of craftmanship that I don't believe will ever be duplicated. One note, photo #57 The Trump Parc Condominiums, you might want to check that one, I don't think it correct.
Can't wait to see the rest again nice worK
Fixed. There must have been multiple Barbizon Hotels, or the old pic may have just been mislabelled. What irks me is how the Lefcourt Colonial and Lefcourt National are two different buildings, two blocks from each other!

I'm glad you liked my thread. I'm quite addicted to it.
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Old Posted Feb 21, 2010, 3:31 AM
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I wish I could have seen the Singer building in person.
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Old Posted Mar 15, 2011, 7:59 PM
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ne'er a finer collection of beauties anywhere else.
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Old Posted Mar 15, 2011, 11:10 PM
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This one has been the recipient of one of the nicest reclads yet executed. Then again, it's previous cladding was an unattractive bridge of Art Deco and post war Modernist styling, so th bar was set low.

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Old Posted Mar 16, 2011, 5:13 PM
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Why oh why aren't Art Deco and Classical styles still popular? They just ooze class and and are visions of wealth. In my opinion it's the only jaw dropping style of architecture that the US has to show off to compete with Europe's city after city of endless building stock.
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Old Posted Mar 16, 2011, 7:45 PM
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Originally Posted by HomrQT View Post
Why oh why aren't Art Deco and Classical styles still popular? They just ooze class and and are visions of wealth. In my opinion it's the only jaw dropping style of architecture that the US has to show off to compete with Europe's city after city of endless building stock.
I agree, although some modernist buildings are very striking in their own right. If I had the finances and was building a skyscraper, I'd go for the early Art Deco style, complete with stone ornamentation and a tall slender tower.
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Old Posted Mar 16, 2011, 8:39 PM
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I love Art-Deco, one of the best, if not the best style of architecture there was.
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Old Posted Nov 24, 2011, 6:04 PM
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When I have more time, likely this weekend, I will get around to updating these pictures in line with my Chicago post.
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Like the pre-war masonry skyscrapers? Then check out my list of the tallest buildings in 1950.
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Old Posted Nov 24, 2011, 7:17 PM
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I love Art-Deco, one of the best, if not the best style of architecture there was.
You've got that right.
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Old Posted Nov 24, 2011, 7:21 PM
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Why oh why aren't Art Deco and Classical styles still popular?
Not cost effective.

Great thread!
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Old Posted Nov 25, 2011, 9:51 PM
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thanks for the thread

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Old Posted Nov 25, 2011, 10:31 PM
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90% of the buildings in that list are master pieces in their own right. New York is pimpin' it. I was pimpin' it in the 1950's.
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Old Posted Nov 25, 2011, 10:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HomrQT View Post
Why oh why aren't Art Deco and Classical styles still popular? They just ooze class and and are visions of wealth. In my opinion it's the only jaw dropping style of architecture that the US has to show off to compete with Europe's city after city of endless building stock.
At the end of the day, Art-Deco was just an applique; every NY skyscraper pre 1950 was basically the same skeleton and superstructure, and the architects just chose a style to apply to the building (Neoclassical, Art Deco, Romanesque, Neogothic, etc). The great revolution of modernist architecture was that it created a new structural and spatial vocabulary for how a building sat in an urban context (Lever House, Seagram, Citicorp, even Rockefeller Center was a proto-modernist urban experiment), but the great downfall was that it would (over decades) become just one more style that a developer architect could apply to their standard building plans.
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