General Electric Building

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
General Electric Building
General Electric Building 570 Lexington.jpg
with St. Bartholomew's Church in the foreground (2010)
General Electric Building is located in Manhattan
General Electric Building
General Electric Building is located in New York City
General Electric Building
Location570 Lexington Avenue
Manhattan, New York City
Coordinates40°45′26″N 73°58′20″W / 40.75722°N 73.97222°W / 40.75722; -73.97222Coordinates: 40°45′26″N 73°58′20″W / 40.75722°N 73.97222°W / 40.75722; -73.97222
ArchitectJohn W. Cross of Cross & Cross
Architectural styleArt Deco
NRHP reference #03001515[2]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPJanuary 28, 2004
Designated NYCLJuly 9, 1985

The General Electric Building, also known as 570 Lexington Avenue, is a historic 50-floor, 640-foot (200 m)-tall, skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, at the southwest corner of Lexington Avenue and 51st Street).[3] Originally known as the RCA Victor Building when designed in 1931 by John W. Cross of Cross & Cross, it is sometimes known by its address to avoid confusion with the much later renaming – in 1988 – of the RCA Building at 30 Rockefeller Plaza as the "GE Building", itself later renamed the "Comcast Building".

The building was designated a New York City landmark in 1985,[1] and was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 28, 2004.[2][4]


At the time that RCA Victor commissioned this building, it was a subsidiary of General Electric. The company then moved its headquarters to Rockefeller Center, and this building was deeded over to the parent company.[1] The building was donated to Columbia University in 1993 to gain a $40 million tax deduction.[1][5] The university formed a joint venture with Mendik Company and Quantum Realty Partners and refurbished the building in 1994.[6] Mendik bought out Columbia in 2001.[7] Tower 570 Company, LP, an affiliate of The Feil Organization, is the building's current owner.[8]


The building's 50-floor stylized Gothic octagonal brick tower, with elaborate Art Deco decorations of lightning bolts showing the power of electricity, grows out of the round-cornered base with elaborate masonry and architectural figural sculpture, to form "one of the most expressive skyscrapers of its era."[1] The building was designed to blend with the low Byzantine dome of St. Bartholomew's Church on Park Avenue and shares the same brick color, with terra cotta decorations chosen to coordinate. The crown of the building is an example of Gothic tracery, which is intended to represent electricity and radio waves, and is lit from within at night. On the corner above the building's main entrance is a clock with the cursive GE logo and a pair of disembodied silver arms holding bolts of electricity.[1]

The AIA Guide to New York City says that the building's "Art Deco details at both street and sky are both sumptuous and exuberant."[9] A "major example" of Art Deco architecture, the style is "both symbolic and expressive of the building's function," according to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.[10]

After the building was donated to Columbia University, it was extensively renovated by Ernest de Castro of the WCA Design Group.[1]

In popular culture[edit]

  • When General Electric was in the process of purchasing RCA, David Letterman, then host of NBC's Late Night with David Letterman, brought a camera crew and a fruit basket to the building in an attempt to welcome their new corporate parents. They were greeted at the lobby by a GE official who demanded they stop filming and leave the premises, before placing his hand over the camera lens.
  • The General Electric Building was featured in the 2005 film Mr. & Mrs. Smith as the location of the head office of Jane Doe (Angelina Jolie).
  • In the Netflix TV series Iron Fist set in the Marvel cinematic universe, the character Harold Meachum lives in the penthouse of the General Electric Building. The series shows views of the lobby and exterior.


See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission; Dolkart, Andrew S.; Postal, Matthew A. (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.119
  2. ^ a b National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  3. ^ "570 Lexington Avenue". Retrieved 2008-07-12.
  4. ^ "Tower 570 Company, L.P., Broadwell Investing Corp., Tax Matters Partner v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue" (PDF). Internal Revenue Service. July 17, 2010. p. 2. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  5. ^ Dunlap, David W. (June 3, 1993). "G.E. Gives Midtown Tower To Columbia University". The New York Times. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  6. ^ Gray, Christopher (January 15, 1995). "Streetscapes/570 Lexington Avenue; Columbia's Restoring an Art Deco Masterpiece". The New York Times. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  7. ^ "General Electric Building - WikiCU, the Columbia University wiki encyclopedia". Retrieved 2017-11-18.
  8. ^ "570 Lexington Avenue". The Real Deal New York. Retrieved 2017-11-18.
  9. ^ White, Norval; Willensky, Elliot & Leadon, Fran (2010), AIA Guide to New York City (5th ed.), New York: Oxford University Press, ISBN 9780195383867, p.318
  10. ^ Savage, Charles C. (July 9, 1985) "General Electric Building Designation Report" New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission

Further reading

  • Stichweh, Dirk (2009) New York Skyscrapers. Munich: Prestel Publishing. ISBN 3-7913-4054-9

External links[edit]