Helmsley Building

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Coordinates: 40°45′16″N 73°58′33″W / 40.75444°N 73.97583°W / 40.75444; -73.97583

Helmsley Building
Helmsley 47 partsun jeh.jpg
Former names New York General Building
New York Central Building
General information
Type Office
Architectural style Beaux-Arts
Address 230 Park Avenue
Town or city Midtown Manhattan, New York City, New York
Country United States
Coordinates 40°45′16″N 73°58′33″W / 40.75444°N 73.97583°W / 40.75444; -73.97583
Construction started 1927
Completed 1929
Renovated 2004
Height 565 feet (172 m)
Technical details
Floor count 35
Lifts/elevators 25
Design and construction
Architecture firm Warren and Wetmore
Designated 31 March 1987
Reference no. LP-1297

The Helmsley Building is a 35-story building located at 230 Park Avenue between East 45th and East 46th Streets in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, which was built in 1929 as the New York Central Building, and was designed by Warren & Wetmore, the architects of Grand Central Terminal, in the Beaux-Arts style. Before the erection of the Pan Am Building – now the MetLife Building – this building stood out over the city's second most prestigious avenue as the tallest structure in the great "Terminal City" complex around Grand Central.[2][3]

Traffic exits and enters the Park Avenue Viaduct through the building, through two portals, one for uptown traffic and one for downtown. They connect to Park Avenue proper at East 46th Street.

The building was designated a New York City Landmark in 1987.[4]


New York Central Building[edit]

Before the electrification of the New York Central Railroad in 1912–1913, the neighborhood north of Grand Central Terminal was one of open-air railway yards and tracks used by steam locomotives. The electrification and subsequent covering of the yards enabled the continuation of Park Avenue to the north and the construction of new buildings (with curious foundations). Among them was the New York Central Building.[2]

In 1913, New York Central unveiled a concept for a visual termination point in the city. Although the original plan was to have this termination point be over New York Central's Grand Central Terminal, the concept was instead realized in the form of The New York Central Building just across the street to the north. The New York Central Railroad Company built their 34-story headquarters at 230 Park Ave., New York City, New York in 1929.

On September 10, 1931, capo di tutti capi Salvatore Maranzano was murdered in his ninth-floor office here by hitmen sent by Lucky Luciano and Vito Genovese, ambitious underlings whom Maranzano had hired Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll to kill.[5]

Tower top, from the South side
Clock and sculptures over the entrance
Uptown traffic exits the Park Avenue Viaduct through the eastern portal of the Helmsley Building during "Summer Streets", when 7 miles of New York City streets are closed to vehicular traffic


The building is a slab-sided skyscraper between East 45th and East 46th Street, with a distinctive design that includes a means of transporting Park Avenue from street level to the divided aerial highway that passes through the building, and then around Grand Central Terminal to 42nd Street, and then back to street level. The top of the building is pyramidal, and capped by an ornate cupola.[4]


"The impressive lobby, planned as a corridor connecting 45th and 46th Streets, echoes the magnificence of the exterior. The design and ornamentation celebrate the prowess of the New York Central Railroad, which had its headquarters on the premises. A sense of imperial grandeur is created by marble walls and bronze detail, which includes extensive use of the railroad’s initials. The Chinese Red elevator doors open into cabs with red walls, wood moldings, gift domes, and painted cloudscapes".[4]

New York General Building[edit]

When New York Central sold the building, General Tire & Rubber Company renamed the building the New York General Building. The building was easily renamed as the "C" and "T" in Central were chiseled into "G" and "E" respectively.

The Helmsley Building[edit]

When General Tire & Rubber Company sold the building to Helmsley-Spear, Leona Helmsley renamed the building The Helmsley Building, which is its current name. The deal in which the ownership of this 2,300,000 sq ft (210,000 m2) building, which was owned by the Helmsley-Spear Management until August 1998, changed hands stipulated that the building would not be renamed again. The building was purchased by Max Capital for $253 million, but in 2006 was sold again to Istithmar, an investment firm owned by the royal family of Dubai, for $705 million. It was later sold to Goldman Sachs in 2007 for over $1 billion.[6]

In May 2015, the building was sold for $1.2 billion to property firm RXR Realty.[7]



In popular culture[edit]

  • One of the promotional posters for the 2008 film The Dark Knight shows the building with an explosion the shape of the Batman emblem on its upper floors.
  • The building is shown as one of the skyscrapers still standing in the movie A.I. Artificial Intelligence.
  • It was also used as one of the New York City filming locations for the non-narrative film Baraka.
  • An interior boardroom was used in The Godfather, as the location of an important meeting between New York's Five Families, to show their influence in society. Railroad murals can be seen behind the actors. However, the exterior used for the shot was the Federal Reserve Bank of New York building at 33 Liberty Street.
  • In Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, the Helmsley Building is described as the Taggart Transcontinental Railroad Building, office of the protagonist of the novel, Dagny Taggart.



External links[edit]