Potential Neighbor Threatens Empire State Building's Dominance

A proposed tower that would be just blocks from the Empire State Building in New York City has some historians and property owners on the defensive.

"What irks the former is that the latter would rise to be 1,216 feet, almost as tall as the Empire State Building, and would be just 900 feet away, a little too close for a building that has stood apart in the skyline for its entire 79-year life.

'The question here is: How close is too close to one of New York's iconic landmarks,' Councilman Daniel R. Garodnick said Monday, after a hearing in which the owners of both properties made their cases, in advance of a City Council vote on Wednesday."

The owners of the historic skyscraper are hoping to convince city officials to turn down the proposal -- and any other large buildings within a certain radius.

Full Story: A Fight on New York’s Skyline



Another Blight On New York

Another example of how New York blights its skyline by building ugly modernist towers near its most famous buildings.

An equally bad example is near Madison Square park, where the campanile of the Metropolitan Life building used to define the skyline and they have build a boxy condominium tower that is about as tall.

An earlier example is all the glass-box office buildings on Sixth Ave. near Rockefeller Center.

The new towers wouldn't be a problem if today's architects designed buildings as attractive as the Empire State, Metropolitan Life, or Rockefeller Center - but most of them obviously don't. No one will ever love this glass box in the way they love these older buildings.

Incidentally, this building will demolish the Hotel Pennsylvania, subject of the song PEnnsylvania 6-5000 by Glenn Miller. see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PEnnsylvania_6-5000 and listen to the song at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGYKCjUoZIA. This is a small bit of architectural vandalism, though it is obviously not as bad as when they demolished the classical revival Penn Station and replaced it with the sterile glass box that is there now - an act of vandalism so bad that it helped to start the architectural preservationist movement.

The saddest part of the Times article is this quote:

Christine C. Quinn, the Council speaker, said the project was about jobs and signaled that “New York City is moving forward and moving out of this recession.”

Anything for economic growth, no matter how ugly. This will blight the skyline permanently, but she wants to build it because of a recession that is lasting a few years. And in reality, construction will not even begin until the recession is over, as the article says:

Despite the vote Wednesday, construction of the new tower is unlikely to start for at least several years. Vornado has said it will not go forward with the $3 billion tower without a major corporate tenant.

Charles Siegel

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