Manhattan's Lost Skyscraper: The Singer Building

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Core77’s NYC headquarters are in what is informally called the Singer Building, located in SoHo. Aside from the distinctive red and green façade, the building is easily discernible by the throngs of Core77 fans surrounding the entrance at all hours, eagerly hoping to catch a glimpse of our staff and ask for autographs. But this Singer Building, once the headquarters of the Singer Manufacturing Company, was for a time known as the Little Singer Building.

That’s because in 1908, flush with sewing machine profits, Singer erected a massive building with a 47-story tower in Manhattan’s Financial District, and that came to be called the Singer Building.

Upon its completion it was the tallest building in the world, which is important to people with penises. Designed in the Beaux Arts style by architect Ernest Flagg, the building towered over lower Broadway, yet still displayed restraint; the tower only utilized 25% of the 12-story base’s footprint.

That design choice would be the building’s undoing. But we’ll get to that in a moment.

Because photo compositing technology had not been developed at the time, other famous structures like the Washington Monument, Statue of Liberty and the Capitol Building were recreated next to the Singer Building for comparison’s sake, so that a sketch artist could refer to it. They were all torn down the next day
Though the building was 47 stories, this says “41 stories” because the illustrator believed that stories with prime numbers were invalid
Seeking a way to waste vast amounts of electricity, Singer began NYC’s trend of dramatically lighting building exteriors at night
Erected in 1908, the building’s height was so novel that it wasn’t until 1916 that people realized they could kill themselves by jumping off of it
The vaulted lobby ceiling featured tall, hard-to-reach illuminated glass panels designed to torture the maintenance men who had to change the bulbs

In the 1960s, amidst waning fortunes, Singer leased office space at Rockefeller Center and put the Singer Building up for sale. However, the design was considered space-inefficient and thus undesirable, as the square footage afforded by the tower was vastly disproportionate to the building’s footprint.

The building was demolished from 1967 to 1968, and Core77 HQ once again became known as the Singer Building. Or, as we call it around the office, the Building Where We Refuse Your Autograph Requests Because It Makes Us Feel Powerful.

Source: core77

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