You may think you know which building is most popular to New Yorkers, but do you know which one it is for sure? Nowhere could I find anyone being polled what their favorite New York building was. So I decided to ask the fans of both the Old Images of New York Facebook Page and Old Images of New York Facebook Group to give me their first and second favorite New York City buildings. I counted two votes for their first choice, one vote for their second. I got more than 300 responses, I tabulated the answers, and comprised the results.
Number 1 – The Chrysler Building, 34 percent. Whether it was for its art deco styling, its silver color, its ridged and pointed crown, angled gargoyles or whatever else, Chrysler Building is by far most popular. One woman mentioned that she would sneak up alone to the old Cloud Club, the restaurant that stood atop the building until 1977, and have the pleasure of being up there with just the East River and the Empire State Building to see. The Chrysler Building came up again and again in the voting. 74 percent of the people who voted for Chrysler made it was their first choice for favorite in the poll.
Number 2 – The Flatiron Building, 17 percent. Designed in the Beaux-Arts style, (which means classic Roman) and completed in 1902. The Flatiron is most often photographed at the distinctively sharp corner of 5th Avenue and Broadway, its narrow end where it makes a beautiful curve around the corner. Everything just seems to work for this building in terms of design. It has a classic look you never get tired of. It houses among its tenants the publishing houses of Macmillan and St. Matins’ Press. The Flatiron spawned the expression 23 skidoo, which is what policemen would shout at men who tried to get glimpses of women’s dresses being blown up by the winds swirling around the structure. The 21st floor was added in 1905, you have to take a separate elevator from the 20th floor to get to it. 58 percent of those who voted for Flatiron in my poll had it as their first choice.
Number 3 – The Empire State Building, 10 percent. Completed in 1931 during the depths of the depression. Like the World Trade Center decades later, The Empire State struggled for years to become popular before becoming very successful in the end. It was not profitable until the 1950’s. It has one of the cities most popular city tourist attractions, its observation deck and tower. The popular tradition of lighting the building at night started in 1976 for the bicentennial. 62 percent of those who voted for the ESB in my poll had it as their first choice.
Number 4 – The Woolworth Building, 8 percent. Completed in 1913, it was the tallest building in the world until surpassed by the Chrysler Building and 40 Wall Street in 1930. It has a beautiful, simple, elegant, gothic appearance. The basement has an abandoned pool and hot tub, with doors that once opened to a passageway to the now abandoned but also beautiful glass ceiling city hall subway station. Its top 30 floors are currently being converted into luxury condominiums. The roof was where the climax for the Disney movie Enchanted was set.
Number 5 – Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, 4 Percent. Its construction took over twenty years, from 1858 to 1879, with a long break for the Civil War taken in between. The cathedral seats 2,400 people, has 2,800 stained glass panels has between 18 and 15 masses said every day. It has 150 weddings every year, and five million people visit it annually. The cathedral is in the process of an extensive restoration project. Although it was also restored in 1949 and 1973, this project is much more extensive. It is hoped the restoration will be completed by the end of 2015.
Honorable Mentions: The Twin Towers and Penn Station finished just out of the top five. Those two and The Singer Building, which was torn down in 1968 and got several votes, were the biggest vote getters for buildings no longer standing. The Metlife Tower, and PanAm building got several votes as well, despite the fact that many revile PanAM for blocking the view of the New York Central building, which itself did not get any votes in my poll. A lot of other buildings were mentioned, including Grand Central Station, Saint John The Divine Cathedral, Radio City Music Hall the New York Public Library, the United Nations, The Dakota, and even the Little Red Lighthouse under the George Washington Bridge. The building I was most surprised to see not mentioned even once, unless it was because people did not to consider it a building, was The Statue of Liberty. With its pedastal, it stands t 305 feet tall, or roughly 28 stories high.