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11 Underrated New York City Buildings

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11 Underrated New York City Buildings

The Big Apple has one of, if not the, greatest skylines in the world. Skyscrapers like the Empire State Building, Freedom Tower and Chrysler Building have us marveling at their beauty day in and day out.

But what about the thousands of other buildings that don’t get the same love? We’re here to stick up for them.

Take a look at 11 of New York City’s most underrated buildings below with descriptions thanks to Wikipedia unless otherwise noted:

Potter Building

Potter Building NYC

Beyond My Ken/Wikimedia Commons

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The Potter Building, at 38 Park Row on the corner of Beekman Street, a full-block building also known as 145 Nassau Street, in the Civic Center neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, was built in 1882–86 and was designed by Norris G. Starkweather in a combination of the Queen Anne and neo-Grec styles, as an iron-framed office building.

The building employed the most advanced fireproofing methods then available, including the use of rolled iron beams, cast iron columns, brick exterior walls – its walls are 40 inches (100 cm) thick at ground level – tile arches and terra-cotta. Its terra-cotta detailing provoked the developer, Orlando B. Potter, to start his own terra cotta company on Long Island.

The Potter Building was converted into apartments in 1979–81, and was designated a New York City landmark in 1996. (Wikipedia)

4 World Trade Center


Nikolai Fedak/Wikimedia Commons

4 World Trade Center (Four World Trade Center), (also known by its street address, 150 Greenwich Street) is a skyscraper that is part of the new World Trade Center complex in New York City. It opened to tenants and the public on November 13, 2013. It is located on the southeast corner of the 16-acre World Trade Center site, where the original nine-story 4 World Trade Center stood. Pritzker Prize-winning architect Fumihiko Maki was awarded the contract to design the 978-foot-tall building. As of 2013 it is the second tallest skyscraper at the rebuilt World Trade Center, behind One World Trade Center, although 2 World Trade Center and 3 World Trade Center are planned to surpass the building’s height upon completion. The total floor space of the building includes 1.8 million square feet of office and retail space. The building’s groundbreaking took place in January 2008. (Wikipedia)

Met Life Tower (Right)

Met Life Tower NYC

OptimumPx/Wikimedia Commons

The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower, colloquially known as the Met Life Tower, is a landmark skyscraper 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 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. (Wikipedia)

Bank of America Building

Bank of America Building NYC

Ryguy3498/Wikimedia Commons

The Bank of America Tower (BOAT) at One Bryant Park is a 1,200 ft skyscraper in the Midtown area of Manhattan in New York City. It is located on Avenue of the Americas, between 42nd and 43rd Streets, opposite Bryant Park.

The US$1 billion project was designed by COOKFOX Architects, and advertised to be one of the most efficient and ecologically friendly buildings in the world. It is the fourth tallest building in New York City, after One World Trade Center, 432 Park Avenue, and the Empire State Building, and the sixth tallest building in the United States. Construction was completed in 2009.

The building’s Urban Garden Room at 43rd Street and 6th Avenue is open to the public. (Wikipedia)

Woolworth Building

Woolworth Building

NortbertNagel/Wikimedia Commons

The Woolworth Building, at 233 Broadway, Manhattan, New York City, designed by architect Cass Gilbert and constructed between 1910 and 1912, is an early US skyscraper. The original site for the building was purchased by F. W. Woolworth and his real estate agent Edward J. Hogan by April 15, 1910, from the Trenor Luther Park Estate and other owners for $1.65 million. By January 18, 1911, Woolworth and Hogan had acquired the final site for the project, totaling $4.5 million. More than a century after its construction, it remains, at 241.4 meters, one of the 100 tallest buildings in the United States as well as one of the 30 tallest buildings in New York City. It has been a National Historic Landmark since 1966, and a New York City landmark since 1983. (Wikipedia)

Hearst Tower

Hearst Tower NYC

Flip666/Wikimedia Commons

The Hearst Tower is a building with the addresses of 300 West 57th Street and 959 Eighth Avenue, near Columbus Circle, in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. It is the world headquarters of Hearst Communications, housing the numerous publications and communications companies of the media conglomerate under one roof, including, among others, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Good Housekeeping, and Seventeen. (Wikipedia)

American Radiator Building

American Radiator Building NYC

Jean-Christophe BENOIST/Wikimedia Commons

The American Radiator Building (since renamed to the American Standard Building) is a landmark skyscraper located at 40 West 40th Street, in midtown Manhattan, New York City. It was conceived by the architects John Howells and Raymond Hood, and built in 1924 for the American Radiator Company. (Wikipedia)

Bloomberg Tower (731 Lexington Avenue)

Bloomberg Tower NYC

Mapos/Wikimedia Commons

731 Lexington Avenue is a 1,345,489 sq ft glass skyscraper on the East Side of Midtown Manhattan, New York City. It houses the headquarters of Bloomberg L.P. and as a result, is sometimes referred to informally as Bloomberg Tower. The building also houses retail outlets, restaurants and 105 luxury condominiums. The residences are known as One Beacon Court and are served by a separate entrance. The tower is the 15th tallest building in New York City and the 46th tallest in the United States. It stands at 55 stories tall, reaching 806 ft.

Located at 731 Lexington Avenue, the building occupies the same block where Alexander’s department store once stood. It opened in 2004. (Wikipedia)

The Ansonia

The Ansonia NYC

Elisa.rolle/Wikimedia Commons

The Ansonia is a building on the Upper West Side of New York City, located at 2109 Broadway, between West 73rd and West 74th Streets. It was originally built as a residential hotel by William Earle Dodge Stokes, the Phelps-Dodge copper heir and share holder in the Ansonia Clock Company, and it was named for his grandfather, the industrialist Anson Greene Phelps. In 1899, Stokes commissioned architect Paul E. Duboy (1857–1907) to build the grandest hotel in Manhattan.

Stokes would list himself as “architect-in-chief” for the project and hired Duboy, a sculptor who designed and made the ornamental sculptures on the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, to draw up the plans. New Orleans architect Martin Shepard served as draftsman and assistant superintendent of construction on the project. A contractor sued Stokes in 1907, but he would defend himself, explaining that Duboy was in an insane asylum in Paris and should not have been making commitments in Stokes’s name concerning the hotel.

In what might be the earliest harbinger of the current developments in urban farming, Stokes established a small farm on the roof of the hotel.

Stokes had a Utopian vision for the Ansonia—that it could be self-sufficient, or at least contribute to its own support—which led to perhaps the strangest New York apartment amenity ever. “The farm on the roof,” Weddie Stokes wrote years later, “included about 500 chickens, many ducks, about six goats and a small bear.” Every day, a bellhop delivered free fresh eggs to all the tenants, and any surplus was sold cheaply to the public in the basement arcade. Not much about this feature charmed the city fathers, however, and in 1907, the Department of Health shut down the farm in the sky. (Wikipedia)

CBS Building

CBS Building

Americasroof/Wikimedia Commons

The CBS Building in New York City, also known as Black Rock, is the headquarters of CBS Corporation. Located at 51 West 52nd Street at the corner of Sixth Avenue (Avenue of the Americas), the Eero Saarinen designed building opened in 1965. It is 38 stories and 490 feet tall with approximately 872,000 square feet rentable of space. The interior and furnishings were designed by Saarinen and Florence Knoll. (Wikipedia)

Walker Tower

Walker Tower NYC

JDS Development Group

The record setting Art Deco conversion. Walker Tower is the historic restoration and expansion of a former telephone building designed in 1929 by Ralph Walker into the finest luxury apartment house in New York City. With our collaborator CetraRuddy, the 47 units, 24-stories, and 200,000 square feet of Walker Tower’s conversion incorporated the building’s original design details and includes all of the conveniences of modern, upscale residential living. The elaborate brick façade has been painstakingly restored and new façade elements have been constructed in the spirit of the Art Deco ornamentation that Ralph Walker made famous through architectural masterpieces in New York City. (JDS Development Group)

Don’t think one of the buildings listed above is underrated? Did we miss a building? Sound off in the comments below.


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