Former New York Life Insurance Company Building

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Former New York Life Insurance
Company Building
Clock Tower Building.jpg
the building after Hatch's and McKim, Mead & White's extension and redesign
Former New York Life Insurance Company Building is located in Lower Manhattan
Former New York Life Insurance Company Building
Former New York Life Insurance Company Building is located in New York
Former New York Life Insurance Company Building
Former New York Life Insurance Company Building is located in the US
Former New York Life Insurance Company Building
Location 346 Broadway, New York, New York
Coordinates 40°42′58″N 74°0′13″W / 40.71611°N 74.00361°W / 40.71611; -74.00361Coordinates: 40°42′58″N 74°0′13″W / 40.71611°N 74.00361°W / 40.71611; -74.00361
Built 1894
Architect Stephen D. Hatch; McKim, Mead & White
Architectural style Late 19th And 20th Century Revivals
NRHP Reference #


Significant dates
Added to NRHP June 28, 1982
Designated NYCL February 10, 1987
Original building, before being extended, and then replaced

The Former New York Life Insurance Company Building, also known as the Clock Tower Building, was built as an office building located at 346 Broadway (with a secondary address of 108 Leonard Street) between Catherine Lane and Leonard Street, in Manhattan, New York City. Constructed in two stages, from 1868 to 1870 and from 1894 to 1899, it is a New York City Landmark and is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.[2]


The New York Life Insurance Company's headquarters building was originally built in 1868-1870. It needed to be expanded eastward to Lafayette Street and Stephen Decatur Hatch was engaged for the job.[2] Hatch designed the extension, but died before construction could be completed.[3] The firm of McKim, Mead & White took over the work, and completed the extension in 1894, following Hatch's design.[2] The company then decided to replace the original building as well, and McKim, Mead & White provided an Italian Renaissance Revival style "palazzo-like" design[2] with a clock tower whose clock was manufactured and installed by the E. Howard Clock Company.[4]

The building's prominent clocktower was topped with 33-foot tall, eight ton, sculpture made by Philip Martiny, who studied under Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The piece consisted of four, 11-foot tall, crouching figures of Atlas, on whose shoulders rested a 15-foot diameter hollow globe, which was topped off with a 7-foot-tall eagle. The gigantic statue was removed in the late 1940s and has been lost ever since.[5]

New York Life left for the New York Life Building on Madison Square Park in 1928.[3] In 1967, the City of New York acquired the building and moved several city agencies along with the Criminal Court, Summons Part there. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, and the exterior, interior and historic E. Howard Company clock were all designated New York City landmarks in 1987[2] by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. The building is also included in the AIA Guide to New York City.[3] In January, 2013 the City of New York sold the building to developers Elad Group and the Peebles Corporation for $160 million.

In 2014, the El Ad Group and Peebles Corporation began construction to convert the landmark building into a boutique hotel and private apartment condominiums. The clock was stopped at 10:25 am sometime after March 2015. The clock faces were to be preserved and electrified, but the landmarked, 1895 E. Howard clock mechanism (the largest clock mechanism in the United States) was to be decommissioned and removed. The New York Landmarks Preservation Commission granted a Certificate of Appropriateness, approving plans to close off the tower to the public and to allow the developers to destroy the clock.

Opponents, including Save America’s Clocks [1], along with the Historic Districts Council [2] and the Tribeca Trust [3], filed an Article 78 proceeding in New York Supreme Court to stop the conversion of the clock tower into a private residence and to save the clock. The primary reasons cited is that the clock tower has always been open to the public and that clock mechanism is one of New York City’s (and the nation's) few remaining mechanical clocks, and that the mechanism itself is designated landmark.[6] Since 1979, New York City Clockmaster, Marvin Schneider [7] and later his assistant, Forest Markowitz, have wound the clock on a weekly basis..[8]

On March 31, 2016, Justice Lynn R. Kotler, of New York State Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Appellants and revoked the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission's Certificate of Appropriateness. According to the ruling, the Landmark Commission has to power to require the building owner to maintain the mechanical mechanism, and to issue a violation if the clock is transitioned to electrical workings.[9]

The case was heard by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, First Judicial Department on February 23, 2017. A decision is pending.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b c d e New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission; Dolkart, Andrew S. (text); Postal, Matthew A. (text) (2009), Postal, Matthew A., ed., Guide to New York City Landmarks (4th ed.), New York: John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 978-0-470-28963-1 , p.34
  3. ^ a b c White, Norval; Willensky, Elliot; Leadon, Fran (2010), AIA Guide to New York City (5th ed.), New York: Oxford University Press, ISBN 9780195383867 , p.83
  4. ^ 346 Broadway Tower Clock
  5. ^ "Lost: 33 Foot High, 8 Ton, Statue — Have You Seen It?". 
  6. ^ Dunlap, David W. (2014-11-12). "A Tower Clock in Danger of Losing Its Purpose". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-04-02. 
  7. ^ "AStreetscapes/Marvin Schneider; The Man Who Makes the City's Clocks Run on Time". 
  8. ^ "Is Time Running Out for Famed Clock of Tribeca's Clock Tower Building?". 
  9. ^ Dunlap, David W. (2016-03-31). "A Manhattan Clock Tower Will Keep What Makes It Tick". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-04-02. 

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