When it was completed in 1909, the original Met-Life headquarters at 5 Madison Ave was the tallest building in the world.
(thanks for sharing the pic, edenpictures!)
Though it lost the title in 1913 to the Woolworth, the Clocktower Building has been an integral part of the Manhattan skyline ever since. Personally, it’s my favorite illuminated rooftop:
(thanks for sharing the pic, minwoo!)
Each clock on the building is 26.5 feet in diameter; each number measures 4 feet in height. The minute hands alone weigh half a ton each:
I recently had an opportunity to take a look inside the control room for one of the clocks, and wanted to share the beauty of the apparatus, still working decades after its installation. This is the front of the device…
…which connects to the clock hands via these cogs, which regulate the time:
The visible clock below mirrors the time displayed on the exterior for easy setting. I’m not sure how long this device has been in place, but man is it a beautiful antique (of course, the movie guy in me can’t help but think of The Hudsucker Proxy – could I use this to stop time??).
The room also features an old circuit breaker, still in use, as well as an old rotary phone – perhaps to double-check the time with?
I also had the opportunity to check out the top of the tower. The elevators only take you to a certain height, leaving a good 8 or 9 floors to hike. However, I loved the climb, as the staircase doesn’t seem to have changed since the building’s construction:
Lots of great designs in the iron work, including pineapples on each banister pole:
Tile work on the ground:
More and more steps…
More tile work (dusty due to the renovations):
Wall tiles and decoration:
As you get close, the passage gets very small, becoming a tight iron spiral staircase taking you up the last few flights:
And finally, the top of the tower, featuring an incredible 360-degree view of New York.
I love the bench ledge – I imagine Met Life execs bringing girls up here to impress them Mad Men-style back in the day:
The current owners are very film friendly, and have a lot of raw space for anyone looking to shoot. Definitely a pleasure to see it up close for the first time.