Spirit of Communication
|Artist||Evelyn Beatrice Longman|
Spirit of Communication is the formal name for a statue originally called Genius of Telegraphy when it was completed, and has been the symbol of AT&T (and also the former Western Electric) since 1914. It is also known informally as the Golden Boy statue.
In 2009, the statue was relocated to AT&T's current corporate headquarters in downtown Dallas, Texas, USA.
The statue's design by Evelyn Beatrice Longman was selected as the winner of a competition, similar to the 1917 Bell Telephone Memorial. It became New York City's second-largest sculpture, after the Statue of Liberty. The statue's original name as commissioned under the aegis of AT&T's president Theodore N. Vail was Genius of Telegraphy.
Commissioned in 1914, it was crafted by Evelyn Beatrice Longman. The work was completed in 1916 and hoisted to the roof of AT&T Corporate Headquarters at 195 Broadway in the Lower Manhattan area of New York City. By that time, AT&T had spun off its telegraphy component, Western Union, and the work was renamed to Genius of Electricity.
It weighs over 14.5 tonnes (16 short tons) and is 7.3 metres (24 ft) in height with wings that extend 2.7 metres (9 ft) from its body. It is cast in bronze and covered with over 40,000 pieces of gold leaf.
The Genius of Electricity appeared on the cover of Bell System telephone directories for about a decade beginning in the early 1930s and became a very well known symbol for the system and its affiliated companies.
Sometime in the mid-1930s, AT&T changed the name of the statue (and the image) to The Spirit of Communication. It continued to stand atop the 195 Broadway building until 1984. That year marked the opening of a new postmodern headquarters building, designed by Philip Johnson, located at the AT&T Building, 550 Madison Avenue in midtown Manhattan. The roofline of the new building was a derivative of a classical pediment with a cylindrical trough cut into the crest, leaving no place suitable for the statue. Johnson proposed relocating the statue to the cavernous foyer of the new location.
Relocation to New Jersey
By coincidence, 1984 also marked the end of the Bell System. During the nineties, the telecommunications industry experienced significant changes as did many industries. Downsizing and mergers were the norm and AT&T was no exception. The New York City headquarters building was sold in 1992 to Sony and the company relocated their HQ functions across the Hudson River and about forty miles west to a 140-acre (0.57 km2) wooded campus purchased nine years previously in Basking Ridge, New Jersey.
Golden Boy made the trip and was installed with great fanfare in front of the main entrance to the beautiful building in 1992. There it stood for a decade until 2002, when AT&T sold its Basking Ridge property (now owned by Verizon) and moved eight miles (13 km) down the road to Bedminster Township. Those facilities had been the headquarters of the AT&T Long Lines division and home to the company's national network operations center. Once again, Golden Boy was trucked to a new location to stay close to the corporation's upper management.
In November 2005, SBC (once a wholly owned subsidiary of the AT&T Corporation—a Baby Bell) acquired AT&T. In a move designed to capitalize on the national name of its former parent, San Antonio, Texas-based SBC renamed itself AT&T Inc. In 2009, the new AT&T removed the statue from the Bedminster Township, New Jersey location and later installed in the lobby of its new headquarters at the Whitacre Tower in Dallas, Texas.
- Flick, David (July 19, 2009). "AT&T's Golden Boy statue, now in new Dallas home, is steeped in history". Dallas Morning News.
- Gray, Christopher. AT&T Headquarters at 195 Broadway; A Bellwether Building Where History Was Made, The New York Times, April 23, 2000.
- Teltsch, Kathleen. "Landmark Statue Being Restored", The New York Times, August 31, 1981, City Final Edition, p. B-3. Accessed October 11, 2008.
- Schultz, George, Philip Johnson: Life and Work, New York: Alfred Knopf, 1994.
- Dewan, Shaila. "AT&T Statue to Remain Suburban", The New York Times, April 20, 2000. Accessed October 12, 2000.
- Bush, Rudolph (July 7, 2009). "AT&T unveils historic statue in downtown Dallas headquarters". The Dallas Morning News, Dallas City Hall Blog.