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Nestled in the heart of midtown, the Daily News Building was once the center of the news world, housing newspapers as well as TV and radio stations. Named for it’s main tenant, at the time of completion, The Daily News had the largest circulation of any newspaper in America.

After successfully designing the Chicago Tribune Building, Raymond Hood focused his efforts on changing the skyline of Manhattan. First designing the American Radiator Building near Bryant Park, then daringly agreeing to design a building east of the Third Avenue El. At the time few people wanted to develop anything in that area, but The Daily News required a place to run their noisy presses. In 1930, the 37-story building was completed. Raymond Hood was also the chief designer for Rockefeller Center a few years later, in 1933.

Daily News Building-NYC-Vintage Image

Ayn Rand described the Daily News Building as one of the “ugliest, flattest, most conventional, meaningless, unimaginative, and uninspiring” of the buildings she researched while writing The Fountainhead. In all fairness to Raymond Hood, she was using his career as a framework for the “villian,” Peter Keating. It was said that she based Howard Roark’s character on Frank Lloyd Wright.

The most striking feature of The Daily News Building is the vertical stripes. The dark window columns contrast sharply against the white brick piers. Hood preferred to use limestone, but he stuck to bricks for this project because it was cheaper. Above each of the windows sits an Art Deco ornamented spadrel. In typical Art Deco style there is a large bass relief above the front entrance. It depicts an urban scene complete with a skyscraper rising into the shining heavens.

The lobby houses the world’s largest indoor globe, that was (until recently) kept up to date as cities and countries changed names and borders. On the glass panels of the pit that holds the massive globe are notes indicating the distances between the Earth, Sun and stars. Radiating from the globe is a compass and directional lines that point to cities around the world and note how far away they are (Gibraltar is 3637 miles away). There are also thermometers, wind speed meters, and clocks displaying information from all corners of the world. Shortly after the grand opening of the building it was discovered that the globe was spinning backwards! This was quickly fixed. The Art Deco elevator lobby was replaced in the late 1950s during construction of a five-story extension of the 41st Street side. A memorial listing the names of all of the Daily News employees who served in World War II survived the renovations.

The Daily News was the main tenant of its namesake building until 1994. Other media companies that were tenants over the years include: United Press International, United Nations Development Programme, WPIX (Channel 11) and WQCD (the smooth jazz radio station. SL Green purchased the building in 200. Today WPIX and various UN offices still occupy the building.

See more from the Downtown Doodler’s column on Untapped Cities!

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