100 years ago I was the tallest building in the world

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Visitors to New York City have 5,868 high rises to choose from when they are walking the city and looking up for inspiration. Among these are some iconic structures such as the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. And of course, the new World Trade Center tower is fast taking shape – this week surpassing the Empire State as the tallest building in the city.

Some of the lesser-known buildings in the city, forgotten by history, were once the giants of their day. In fact, from 1908 to 1974, New York City claimed the tallest building in the world, until the Sears Tower in Chicago surpassed the height of World Trade Center One by 25 meters.

From 1909 to 1913, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower, located at Madison Square Park [where 23rd Street meets Broadway and 5th Avenue] was the tallest building in the world. It is currently being converted into the New York Edition Hotel.

Began in 1907 and completed in 1909, this 50-story Italianate and beaux arts tower is modeled after the Campanile in Venice, Italy, and features an 8.1 meter diameter clock.  It was designed by the architectural firm of Napoleon LeBrun & Sons and built by the Hedden Construction Company.

The building was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1978. So if you are in New York City stop by and see this, the tallest building from 100 years ago. You can enjoy a view while having a latte in the café at nearby Eataly, Oscar Farinetti and Mario Batali’s Turin-originated Italian food mecca.

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