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Metropolitan Life Tower
Metropolitan Life Tower, Flatiron District, New York Cityµ | | Manhattan, in the early XXth Century -in reason of the new technical improvements and the growing megalomania of powerful companies and trusts- was the theatre of the first fight for height, height meaning supremacy. After the completion of the Flatiron in 1903 and the fabulous Singer Tower five years later, one of the most important insurance company of the country decided to take up the challenge, by adding a 700-foot tower to the existing building, erected in 1893. The latter was first a 11-story one, then 12 in 1895, with several additions in 1901, 1902 and 1905 which added up to a 83,937 square-foot full block coverage ground area. It was a traditional Neo-Renaissance structure whose façade was covered of series of marble-sheathed arcades and rotundas, topped by a flat roof, fringed by a thick balustrade. To design the new tower, destined to be set into the northwest corner, Napoléon LeBrun was required yet, but the idea to copy in a larger scale the Campanile of San Marco in Venice was a John Hegeman's one, the president of the Metropolitan Life himself. And, effectively, the new tower is quite a carbon copy of the famed Venetian monument, but more than twice the height, and with a façade bored of a multitude of windows. The tower is composed of three main parts, as a Doric column, with a three-arched base in harmony with the old building. Above soars the tower itself, organised in three vertical stripes of windows in groups of three, without any ornamentation than four colossal 4-story high concrete clocks (one per side) with inlaid white and blue mosaic, and rusticated quoins at the corners
Flatiron Building
Flatiron Building, New York City | | Not well known among those not from the area, or not into historic architecture, the Flatiron Building is a favorite of New Yorkers and admirers around the world. Perhaps because it symbolizes so much of how New Yorkers see themselves - Defiant, bold, sophisticated, and interesting. With just enough embedded grime and soot to highlight its details. The Flatiron's most interesting feature is its shape - a slender hull plowing up the streets of commerce as the bow off a great ocean liner plows through the waves of its domain. The apex of the building is just six feet wide, and expands into a limestone wedge adorned with Gothic and Renaissance details of Greek faces and terra cotta flowers. The building has two claims to fame - one architectural, the other cultural. Some consider the Flatiron Building to be New York City's first skyscraper. It certainly was one of the first buildings in the city to employ a steel frame to hold up its 285-foot tall facade, but not the first. Some felt its shape (like a flatiron) was less artistic and more dangerous. They thought it would fall over, and during construction the Flatiron Building was nicknamed "Burnham's Folly." The building's cultural legacy is a little more interesting and has passed into the local social consciousness as a fable. It is said that the building created unusual eddies in the wind which would cause women's skirts to fly around as they walked on 23rd street. This attracted throngs of young men who gathered to view the barelegged spectacle. Police would try to disperse these knots of heavy-breathers by calling to them, "23 Skidoo." This phrase has passed out of common usage, but its descendant, the word "scram" remains in a back corner of the American lexicon
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