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NYC: Met Life Tower | by wallyg
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NYC: Met Life Tower

The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower (also Met Life Tower) at One Madison Avenue, New York City was the world's tallest building from 1909 to 1913, when it was surpassed by the Woolworth Building. As its address suggests, it is located at the southern end of Madison Avenue, directly across the street from Madison Square Park.


The tower is a later addition to the original 11-story, full-block office building (the "East Wing") that was completed in 1893. The Campanile in Venice, Italy served as an inspiration when the building was commissioned by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in 1907 and served as world headquarters of the company until 2005. Napoleon LeBrun & Sons designed the 700 feet (213 m) tower with 52 floors, more than twice the height of its old world counterpart, and completed the building by 1909 with help from the Hedden Construction Company. The completion of the Woolworth Building in 1913 ended the Met Life Tower's reign as the tallest building in the world.


There are 4 clocks, one on each side of the tower. Each clock is 26.5 feet (8 m) in diameter with each number being 4 feet (1.2 m) tall. The minute hands each weigh half a ton. The original tower was sheathed in Tuckahoe marble but during the 1964 renovation plain limestone was used to cover the tower and the East Wing, replacing the old Renaissance revival details with a streamlined, modern look. Much of the building's original ornamentation was removed.


A three-year exterior restoration project, which saw much of the building covered in scaffolding, ended in 2002 (click here for a picture during restoration) and added a new, computerized, multicolored nighttime lighting system much like that of the Empire State Building; the colors change to denote particular holidays or important events. The gilded cupola at the very top of the building serves as an "eternal light" which stays illuminated even after the rest of the lighting system has been turned off for the night.


In March of 2005, SL Green Realty Trust bought the tower in anticipation of converting it into apartments. The base would remain an office component, although its air rights could be bought to allow for the construction of another apartment building nearby.


Metropolitan Life Home Office Complex National Register #95001544

Metropolitan Life Insurance Company National Register #78001874

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Taken on October 21, 2006