1221 Avenue of the Americas

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1221 Avenue of the Americas
1221 Avenue of the Americas 2016.jpg
1221 Avenue of the Americas. 1251 Avenue of the Americas is visible to left.
General information
Status Complete
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
Completed 1969
Opening 1973
Owner Rockefeller Group (Mitsubishi Estate)
Roof 674 feet (205 m)
Technical details
Floor count 51
Floor area 2,199,982 sq ft (204,385 m2)
Lifts/elevators 32
Design and construction
Architect Wallace Harrison

1221 Avenue of the Americas (formerly also known as McGraw-Hill Building) is a skyscraper located at 1221 Sixth Avenue, in Manhattan, New York City.


Sunken courtyard
World maps

The building was part of the later Rockefeller Center expansion (1960s–1970s) dubbed the "XYZ Buildings". Their plans were first drawn in 1963 by the Rockefeller family's architect, Wallace Harrison, of the architectural firm Harrison and Abramovitz.[2] Their letters correspond to their height. 1251 Avenue of the Americas is the "X" Building as it is the tallest at 750 ft (229 m) and 54 stories, and was the first completed, in 1971. The "Y" is 1221 Avenue of the Americas, which was the second tower completed (1973) and is the second in height (674 ft and 51 stories). The "Z" Building, the shortest and the youngest, is 1211 Avenue of the Americas with 45 stories (592 ft).[3]

The building is the former headquarters of McGraw-Hill Financial, from which it derived its former name.[4] Other tenants include Sirius XM Radio, whose headquarters and broadcast facility are in the building.

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.[5] 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. The appearance of the building's facade is similar to the walls of the former World Trade Center towers.

1999 elevator 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. Though he signaled an alarm and there was surveillance video 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.[6][7]

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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 1221 Avenue of the Americas at Emporis
  2. ^ Krinsky, Carol H. (1978). Rockefeller Center. Oxford University Press. p. 117. ISBN 978-0-19-502404-3. 
  3. ^ "XYZ Buildings Exxon Building McGraw-Hill Building Celanese Building". Manhattan Skyscrapers. New York, NY: Princeton Archit.Press. pp. 127–130. doi:10.1007/1-56898-652-1_57. ISBN 978-1-56898-545-9. 
  4. ^ "McGraw Hill Moves Downtown, Says Goodbye to Namesake Building". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 14 July 2015. 
  5. ^ Natural History Magazine Sun triangle
  6. ^ Tierney, John (1999-10-28). "The Big City; Aftermath Of 40 Hours In an Elevator". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-05-07. 
  7. ^ "Up and Then Down". The New Yorker. 2008-04-21. Retrieved 2017-05-07. 

External links[edit]