|Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower|
The Metropolitan Life Tower in 1911
|Alternative names||Met Life Tower|
Metropolitan Life Tower
|Tallest in the world from 1909 to 1913[I]|
|Preceded by||Singer Building|
|Surpassed by||Woolworth Building|
Commercial offices (originally)
|Location||1 Madison Avenue|
Manhattan, New York City
|Owner||Abu Dhabi Investment Authority|
|Roof||213.4 m (700 ft)|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Napoleon LeBrun & Sons|
Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower
|Architectural style||Italian Renaissance Revival|
|Part of||Metropolitan Life Home Office Complex (#95001544)|
|NRHP reference #||78001874|
|Added to NRHP||January 29, 1972|
|Designated NHL||June 2, 1978|
|Designated CP||January 19, 1996|
The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower, colloquially known as the Met Life Tower, is a landmark skyscraper, built in 1909 and located on Madison Avenue near the intersection with East 23rd Street, across from Madison Square Park in Manhattan, New York City. Designed by the architectural firm of Napoleon LeBrun & Sons and Purdy and Henderson, Engineers, built by the Hedden Construction Company, the tower is modeled after the Campanile in Venice, Italy. The hotel located in the clock tower portion of the building has the address 5 Madison Avenue, while the office building covering the rest of the block, occupied primarily by Credit Suisse, is referred to as 1 Madison Avenue.
Inside the building is the New York Edition Hotel, a 273-room luxury hotel that opened in 2015.
The tower was a later addition to the original 11-story, full-block Metropolitan Life Home Office building (the "East Wing"), which was completed in 1893 and was also designed by Napoleon LeBrun & Sons. Plans for the tower were first announced in June, 1905. In 1953-57, the original Home Office building was replaced with the current building, designed by D. Everett Waid. Then, between 1960 and 1964, the Tower itself was modernized by Lloyd Morgan and Eugene V. Meroni.
The building figured prominently in the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company's advertising for many years, illustrated with a light beaming from the top of its spire and the slogan, "The Light That Never Fails." The reference was to a beacon at the top of the tower which flashed once at the quarter hour and the time of day at the hour. The beacon was one of a few broadly visible features of the New York City nighttime skyline until the mid-20th century.
There are four clock faces, one on each side of the tower, located from the 25th to 27th floors. Each clock face is 26.5 feet (8 m) in diameter with each number being four feet (1.2 m) tall. The minute hands each weigh half a ton. The original tower was sheathed in Tuckahoe marble, but during the 1964 renovation plain limestone was used to cover the tower and the East Wing, replacing the old Renaissance revival details with a streamlined, modern look. Much of the building's original ornamentation was removed.
In 1905, Metropolitan Life bought a lot at the southeastern corner of Madison Avenue and 24th Street, on which it intended to build a 560-foot (170 m) building. Finished in 1909, the building served as world headquarters of the company until 2005. It was the world's tallest building until 1913, when it was surpassed by the Woolworth Building. It currently stands as the 68th tallest building in the city.
In the early 1950s, Metropolitan Life started to renovate its entire headquarters, as well as demolish auxiliary structures to make way for a new limestone, art moderne building. The tower, the sole remaining structure from the early 20th century, was extensively renovated from 1960–1964, and most of the ornaments on the tower's facade were removed or rebuilt during that time, including the clock and the pyramid-shaped roof. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, designated a National Historic Landmark in 1978, and a New York City landmark in 1989. The Metropolitan Life Home Office Complex, inclusive of the tower, annex and the adjacent North Building was added to the National Register on January 19, 1996.
A three-year exterior restoration project, which saw much of the building covered in scaffolding, ended in 2002 and added a new, computerized, multicolored nighttime lighting system, much like that of the Empire State Building; the colors change to denote particular holidays or important events. The gilded cupola at the very top of the building serves as an "eternal light" which stays illuminated even after the rest of the lighting system has been turned off for the night. The building figured prominently in the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company's advertising for many years, illustrated with a light beaming from the top of its spire and the slogan, "The Light That Never Fails".
In March 2005, SL Green Realty Corp. bought the tower, intending to convert it to apartments. In May 2007, the tower and adjacent air rights were subsequently sold for $200 million to Africa Israel Investments. In 2011, Tommy Hilfiger and a partner signed a contract to buy the building for $170 million, planning to transform it into Hilfiger's first hotel, with luxury condos. However Hilfiger backed off the project in September 2011. Africa Israel then sold the tower to Marriott International in October 2011 for $165 million. Marriott announced in January 2012 that they are converting the tower to the New York Edition Hotel. "Edition" is Marriott's boutique hotel line, run in association with Ian Schrager. The three Edition hotels, in London, Miami and New York, were sold by Marriott in January 2013 for $815 Million to the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. The New York property was conveyed to its new owner on its completion. Marriott continues to manage the hotels under long-term contract. The hotel opened in September 2015.
By the late 1920s, the 1909 Met Life Tower and the 1919 North Annex were becoming too small to house the continuously growing activities of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Looking to expand, the company considered building on a full block site between East 24th and East 25th Streets.
Ecole des Beaux Arts-educated architect Harvey Wiley Corbett left his position on the Rockefeller Center design team in order to take up this project in 1928 and was joined by prominent architect Dan Everett Waid. The final design for the new building was proposed as a 100-story tower that would thin out as it rose. However, the onset of the Great Depression in 1929 caused the company to scrap plans for a giant skyscraper and instead built only a portion of the proposed tower. The North Building, completed in 1950, currently has a 32-story base for the proposed 100-story tower, built with the structural strength and the number of elevator shafts needed for a later completion.
Metropolitan Life's Plans for a New Structure; Parkhurst's Church There; The Company Will Raze It and Erect There One of the Tallest Buildings In the World.
|journal=(help) and Accompanying 6 photos, exterior and interior, from 1950-1976 (1.28 MB)
Metropolitan Life Will Erect the Tallest Office Structure for Own Use on Whole Block. Unusual Design is Drawn Accommodation for 30,000 Workers --Moving Stairs Planned for the First Thirteen Floors. Will Occupy Entire Block. Light Value Stressed.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower.|
| Tallest building in the world
| Tallest building in the United States|