On Sunday you read how I was going to try and see all the buildings in America that have claimed to be the tallest in the world at one point in history. That blog centered around the Philadelphia City Hall, which was the tallest from 1894 to 1908 when it was surpassed by the Singer Building in New York City.
The Singer Building was the 47-story office building of the Singer Manufacturing Company. It was the tallest building in the world from 1908 to 1909 and the only one I will never be able to visit. This is because architect Ernest Flagg believed that buildings more than 10 or 15 stories high should be set back from the street and the tower occupying only a quarter of the lot. Thus the 12-story base of the building filled an entire block, while the tower, at 65 ft long on each side, was relatively narrow. Due to this, by the 1960’s the building became uneconomical because of its small interior dimensions (4200 square feet per floor). It was torn down in 1968 and is now the site of One Liberty Plaza (37,000 square feet per floor). It is the tallest building ever to be demolished on purpose.
The Singer Building was surpassed by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Building in 1909 as the tallest in the world, which it only held for four years. It was built to be the world headquarters for the insurance company and they even used the tower, with its beacon, in their advertisements for decades as “the light that never fails”. It was the headquarters until 2005 when they moved into a newer building close to the Chrysler Building.
This is where I screwed up! I typed into my phone’s google map “Met Life Building” and it took me right there. The problem is I went to the new building (see top photo) since the tower is now the New York Edition Hotel, a 273-room luxury hotel that opened in 2015. I remember looking at the building thinking “wow that is quite modern looking but figured it had been heavily updated. It was only later that I realized my mistake. I guess I will simple have to go back to New York City and stay in the hotel that occupies the tower, which is modeled after the Campanile in Venice, Italy. Oh darn. 😊
Next up is the very cool and funny Woolsworth Building.