The many architectural highlights of New York City
New York, New York, the city so great it was named twice. Whatever you want to call it, the Big Apple, or the city that never sleeps, it is arguably the most famous city in the world.
Full of iconic landmarks and with more things to do per square inch than most places on the planet, New York also has many architectural highlights, and anyone with an interest in beautiful buildings will have a field day visiting this powerhouse of a city.
New York has so many significant buildings it would be impossible to list them all on one page, but NYC is particularly famous for it’s skyscrapers. The Manhattan skyline is dominated by high buildings, 10 of which have held the title of the world’s tallest building at some stage during the last century. Of course, with the progress of time half of these have been demolished, however New York’s high rise history can be dated back to around 1913, with the construction of the Woolworth Building, in early gothic revival style. It is a magnificent building and you can find it on Broadway next to City Hall Park, near the One World Trade Center. The One World Trade Center, designed by Santiago Calatrava and Frank Gehry and completed in November 2014, was constructed next to the “foot prints” of World Trade Center twin towers that were destroyed on September 11th 2001.
Art Deco design plays a huge role in New York’s architecture, most notably in two of its most famous residents – the Empire State Building, and the Chrysler Building, both built in the early 1930s. Completed in 1931 and designed by Shreve, Lamb and Harmon, the Empire State Building is 102 stories high and it held the title of the world’s tallest building for 41 years, before it was surpassed by the World Trade Center in 1972.
The Chrysler Building on Lexington Ave between 42nd and 43rd St is my favourite New York building with it’s ornamental spire, and metal gargoyles inspired by the hood ornament of the Chrysler Plymouth car. Standing at 1048 feet this was the first building in the world to go over the 1000ft mark and was the tallest in the world for just under one year, when it was surpassed by the Empire State Building. When planning your visit to NYC it is useful to know that the Chrysler Building, Grand Central Terminal, Bryant Park and Times Square are all within walking distance of each other.
Another favourite of mine is the Flatiron Building. Completed in 1902 and has an amazing triangular shape which was considered very avant garde back then and still seems so today. At only 20 stories high it was one of the tallest buildings in the city in the early 20th century.
Another example of Art Deco style is the GE Building, which is part of the famous Rockefeller Center. It is one of the tallest buildings in the city, spanning 850ft and 70 floors. It’s viewing floor, “the Top of the Rock” has the some of best views of the city, especially of the Empire State Building and Central Park.
As we have become more environmentally aware, this has also influenced architecture, and New York has seen a surge in green design over the last 15 years. For example the Conde Nast Building at 4 Times Square, completed in 2000, has modern and environmentally friendly heating and insulation systems which used ground breaking technology and designs. The Hearst Tower, also a “green” high-rise, was built atop the facade of the original tower which was commissioned by William Randolph Hearst but had it’s construction postponed by the Great Depression of the 1920s. The new tower, built of glass and steel, was completed some 80 years later in 2006!
Frank Gehry, an architect famous for his futuristic and quirky designs, is responsible for a very unusual skyscraper at 8 Spruce St, found in the same vicinity as the Woolworth Building, One Word Trade Center and City Hall in lower Manhattan. It looks like a screwed up piece of paper that someone has unsuccessfully tried to straighten out. Very intriguing.
New York is so much more than tourism and shopping, and with a rich architectural history, this is a must visit city for anyone interested in fantastic building examples.
Image at top of article is the San Remo Building as seen from Central Park in early March.