7. Citigroup Building at Lexington Avenue and 53rd Street

A holdout building on 53rd Street

We’ve listed the atrium inside the Citigroup building as one of our top Midtown indoor public spaces. On the outside though, exists a holdout that in some sense, isn’t a holdout at all. St. Peter’s Church, now at the northeast corner of Lexington Avenue and 54th Street actually owned the lot of the current Citigroup building and wanted to sell the land. They planned to use the profits to build a new church on less valuable real estate. Unable to find a suitable location, St Peter’s Church returned to the original site.

Citigroup’s solution was to build a new church on the corner and construct their offices around and above it. A 72-foot cantilever floats above the church, with the skyscraper itself supported by the four columns alongside the church. A major design oversight however resulted in a serious and potentially fatal engineering flaw. The engineers and Citigroup management worked together in secret to rectify this, narrowly missing the potential damage of an incoming hurricane. This flaw remained a secret until the New Yorker ran a 1995 article detailing the danger faced by the engineers and the unknowing office goers. The story broke almost 17 years after the building was erected.