On my mind today is a unique piece of lost New York City history. Presenting the Singer Building, a 47-story office building and tower designed in the Beaux-Arts architectural style and completed in 1908. Formerly located at 149 Broadway in Lower Manhattan, it stood at a height of 674 feet (205.4 meters) from its base to the top of its flagpole, making the Singer Building the tallest building in the world at the time. The structure's exterior was made of brick, stone, terracotta, and glass (for windows), and its squat lower portion sat below its ornate and comparatively thin tower.
As its name might imply, the Singer Building was the headquarters of the world-famous Singer Corporation, then known as the Singer Manufacturing Company. Despite functioning as a mere office space for the sewing machine giant, the building's height and striking design quickly made it an iconic part of the New York City skyline. It remained one of the city's crown jewels despite the construction of successively taller buildings, and it was treasured by members of the New York's architectural and photographic communities. However, although the building was a valued part of New York City, officials never granted landmark status to it. That oversight opened the door to the building's destruction.
Like the original Pennsylvania Station and the original Waldorf-Astoria hotel, the Singer Building garnered the notice of developers who proposed more efficient uses of its location. Specifically, the Singer Building's narrow tower and short base stood in stark contrast to the taller, increasingly massive, and highly capacious structures rising elsewhere within the city. Finally, in 1968, despite appeals from preservationists and members of the general public, the beautiful Singer Building's time came to end. Due to its unfortunate destruction, it then became the tallest building ever taken down through planned demolition, and it would retain that title until 2019.
Oddly enough, the scheduled destruction of the Singer Building allowed New York City to earn an unwanted distinction decades later when the "Twin Towers" of the city's World Trade Center collapsed due to the Islamic terror attacks on September 11th, 2001. When the towers fell, New York City then became the unfortunate owner of two records for building destruction by having the tallest buildings destroyed through planned and unplanned demolition.
Sadly, if all things were fair, if life and architectural beauty were respected, then the Singer Building, the original Pennsylvania Station, the original Waldorf-Astoria, the "Twin Towers," and the thousands of people who died on or because of 9/11 would likely still be here. They aren't.
If only things were fair.
All the best,
Note: The above is a heavily updated version of a deleted post I made on Wordpress.com.
I love to write! I'm a Technical Writer by day and a blogger by night. On My Mind Today is my creation, and for me it is a true labor of love. Whether the subject is a current issue or a historical matter, I'll try to address it here. I look forward to writing quality content, and I'm open to topic suggestions. I value your feedback!