The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower, also known as the MetLife Tower, is an iconic skyscraper located in New York City. Standing at 700 feet tall, this historic building has been a prominent feature of the city’s skyline since its completion in 1909. In this article, we will explore the history, architecture, and significance of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower.
Construction: The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower was designed by the architectural firm Napoleon LeBrun & Sons and constructed between 1907 and 1909. It was commissioned by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, which sought to establish a grand headquarters in the heart of Manhattan.
Architecture: The tower was designed in the Beaux-Arts style, a neoclassical architectural style that was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It features a distinctive clock tower with a copper roof and a pyramid-shaped roofline. The tower’s facade is adorned with intricate details, including ornamental sculptures and decorative elements.
Significance: At the time of its completion, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower was the tallest building in the world, surpassing the previous record held by the Park Row Building. It held this title until the completion of the Woolworth Building in 1913. The tower symbolized the growing influence and wealth of the insurance industry in the early 20th century.
Design and Features
Height and Structure: The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower stands at 50 stories and reaches a height of 700 feet. Its steel frame construction allowed for its impressive height, making it one of the tallest buildings of its time. The tower’s structure consists of a reinforced concrete core surrounded by a steel frame.
Architectural Elements: The tower’s design incorporates various architectural elements that contribute to its grandeur. The clock tower, located at the top of the building, features a four-faced clock with each face measuring 26 feet in diameter. The pyramid-shaped roofline adds a distinctive touch to the tower’s silhouette. The facade is adorned with sculptures and decorative motifs, including allegorical figures representing life and industry.
Legacy and Influence
Skyscraper Development: The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower played a significant role in the development of skyscrapers in New York City. Its construction demonstrated the feasibility and desirability of tall buildings, paving the way for the city’s iconic skyline. The tower’s success inspired other companies to construct their own headquarters, leading to the proliferation of skyscrapers in Manhattan.
Historic Landmark: In recognition of its architectural and historical significance, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower was designated as a New York City landmark in 1989. It is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The tower serves as a reminder of the city’s rich architectural heritage and continues to be a beloved symbol of New York.
The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower stands as a testament to the grandeur and innovation of early 20th-century architecture. Its towering presence and intricate design have made it an iconic landmark in New York City. From its record-breaking height to its Beaux-Arts style, the tower represents the growth and influence of the insurance industry and the development of skyscrapers in Manhattan.
– NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission: www.nyc.gov
– National Park Service: www.nps.gov
– New York Architecture: www.nyc-architecture.com