The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower, also known as the Metropolitan Life Tower or Met Life Tower, is a landmark skyscraper located at One Madison Avenue in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. Designed by the architectural firm of Napoleon LeBrun & Sons and built by the Hedden Construction Company, the tower is modeled after the Campanile in Venice, Italy. It was constructed in 1909 and served as world headquarters of the company until 2005. It was the world’s tallest building for three years, until 1913, when it was surpassed by the Woolworth Building.
The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, designated a National Historic Landmark in 1978, and a New York City landmark in 1989
The tower is a later addition to the original 11-story, full-block office building (the “East Wing”) that was completed in 1893. Plans for the tower were first announced in 1905. There are four clock faces, one on each side of the tower, located from the 25th to 27th floor. Each clock face is 26.5 feet (8 m) in diameter with each number being four feet (1.2 m) tall. The minute hands each weigh half a ton. The original tower was sheathed in Tuckahoe marble, but during the 1964 renovation plain limestone was used to cover the tower and the East Wing, replacing the old Renaissance revival details with a streamlined, modern look. Much of the building’s original ornamentation was removed.
In March 2005, SL Green Realty Corp. bought the tower in anticipation of converting it into apartments. In May 2007, the tower was subsequently sold, along with adjacent air rights, to Africa Israel Investments for $200 million. It is speculated that the tower will be converted into either residential apartments or a high-end hotel. The landmark clock tower’s address has since been changed to 5 Madison Avenue. The rest of the full-block office building (the “East Wing”), now has 15 stories and is mostly occupied by investment banking arm of Credit Suisse. Credit Suisse refers to the building as One Madison Ave, or OMA. At the corner of East 23rd Street and Park Ave South, which was originally known as Fourth Avenue, the building has an entrance to the 23rd Street New York City Subway station of the number 6 line.
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