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Located at the corner of 56th Street, 1740 Broadway was constructed in 1950 for Mutual of New York as their new headquarters. The building was designed by Shreve, Lamb & Harmon, the architects most famous for designing the Empire State Building. Mutual of New York, or MONY after it demutualized, was founded in 1843 and it sold the first mutual life insurance policy issued by an American company.

Over the course of its history, MONY was at the forefront of the industry, including being the first company to insure the life of a woman and the first to insure a member of the military. It was also the first to insure the life of a reigning monarch, King Kalakaua of Hawaii. 

1740 broadway MONY life insurance building mutual of new york life insurance weather beaconSource: New York Times

What makes the building unique is the 150 foot weather beacon and star surmounting it. It was designed by Artkraft Strauss and featured a coded system to relay the weather to New Yorkers. The star would shine green if the next day’s weather was fair, orange for cloudy, flashing orange for rain, and flashing white for snow. Additionally, the lights on the beacon would rise if the temperature was rising and would fall if the temperature was decreasing.

This system was disseminated to the public through newspapers advertisements and even promotional matchbooks. Today, the beacon is vestigial. While it is still illuminated, it no longer forecasts the weather. One can wonder if in the future New Yorkers will be able to use 1740 Broadway as a meteorologist once more.

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