1221 Avenue of the Americas

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1221 Avenue of the Americas
McGraw-Hill Building Rock Center by David Shankbone.jpg
Rockefeller Center 'XYZ' Buildings on Sixth Avenue.
General information
Type Office
Location 1221 Avenue of the Americas, New York City, New York, USA
Coordinates 40°45′33″N 73°58′54″W / 40.75917°N 73.98167°W / 40.75917; -73.98167Coordinates: 40°45′33″N 73°58′54″W / 40.75917°N 73.98167°W / 40.75917; -73.98167
Construction started 1966
Owner Rockefeller Group (Mitsubishi Estate)
Roof 674 feet (205 m)
Technical details
Floor count 51
Lifts/elevators 32
Design and construction
Architect Wallace Harrison

1221 Avenue of the Americas, is a skyscraper built in 1969, located at 1221 Sixth Avenue, in Manhattan, New York City, and is one of several buildings that were part of the Rockefeller Center complex expansion in the 1960s. It is 674 feet (205 m) high and 51 stories. The building is the former headquarters of McGraw-Hill Financial, from which it derived its former name.[1] Other tenants include Sirius XM Radio, whose headquarters and broadcast facility are in the building.

The expansion consisted of the three buildings collectively known as the "XYZ Buildings," each with similar slab-like massing, of different heights and designed by Wallace Harrison's firm.

The sunken courtyard of this building contains a large metal triangle designed by Athelstan Spilhaus and fabricated by Tyler Elevator Products, arranged so the Sun aligns with its sides at solstices and equinoxes.[2] When built, the southwestern corner held a display of scale models of planets in the Solar System. A mosaic map of the Earth survives in the northwestern corner.

1999 elevator incident[edit]

Sunken courtyard
World maps

The incident[edit]

After entering an express elevator at approximately 11:00 p.m. (EDT) on October 15, 1999, Nicholas White, an employee of the building, became trapped after a brief power dip caused the elevator to stop between the 13th and 14th floors. Despite signaling an alarm and surveillance video being inside the elevator cab, White was not rescued until approximately 4:00 p.m. on October 17, nearly 41 hours later, after security guards spotted him in the surveillance cameras [3][4]

Aftermath with the media[edit]

On April 14, 2008, The New Yorker uploaded a 3-minute, 11 second-long video to YouTube, accompanied by Jennifer Haines's The Storm Begins, originally titled Trapped in an Elevator for 41 Hours. The video is a time-lapse of White's time in the elevator and also shows the surveillance footage from the other three elevators. On April 21, 2008, the magazine wrote a full detailed story on White's experience in the elevator, by Nick Paumgarten, who titled it Up and Then Down. As of April 2015, the video currently has more than 8.5 million views.[5] After the video went viral, Nicholas White was interviewed on Good Morning America and also spoke to the Associated Press. In his interviews. he talked about the horrific ordeal that he went through[6] and revealed that he still takes elevators, jokingly saying that because he still lives in Manhattan it would be impossible for him to not use them.[7]

White talks about his experience[edit]

He told the reporters he started by stepping into one at 10 p.m EDT. The lights started to dim after a few seconds, and it went on immediately.[8]The floor shown on the panel was also not L, but two huge dots.[9]He also felt a jolt as the car stopped. The first thing he told them is that he rang the emergency bell. He thought it was inconvenient. Second, he pushed the intercom and no response. The third thing he did was trying to sleep as it was later than 10 p.m. EDT already. As he lay down on the floor, he noticed several bits of fingernail, hair and even skin on the floor. He asked himself how they were able to shed during a short lift ride, as the elevator is faster than normal ones. Several hours later he tried to pry the doors open and saw a big concrete wall instead of light. He felt more enclosed than ever. At about 4 p.m. he heard a noise from the intercom, "Is there someone in there?". For the next few minutes he had an identity test. At the end of the test he shouted into the intercom, "Just get me the hell out of here!". He waited for another 40 minutes for the rescue to come, but he felt like hours. The door opened and he popped out. He asked the staff what time it was. "On Sunday," the staff answered, "at 4 p.m" He realized he had been in there for 41 hours!

In popular culture[edit]

The buildings are featured in the opening credits of Saturday Night Live, seen from below looking up in the street from a car. It was used for the exteriors and lobby of Elias-Clarke's headquarters in the 2006 film The Devil Wears Prada and the interior shots for Suits. It is also the headquarters of Sirius XM Radio, and many radio shows broadcast from the building including The Howard Stern Show and Opie with Jim Norton.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]