6. Was the Chelsea Hotel the Tallest Building in NYC?
There are several sources that make the claim that the Chelsea Hotel was the tallest building in New York City when it was completed in 1884, including The New York Times which stated that it was the tallest until 1902 (though they issued a correction after saying it was among the tallest buildings in the city when completed). Vanity Fair later stated that it was the tallest building in New York City when it was completed. It’s definitely an odd claim, since according to the New York City Department of Buildings, the height of the Chelsea Hotel in 2011 was 138 feet, with a 2011 application to increase it to 144 feet. Furthermore, the New York World Building was completed in 1890 and was the tallest building in the world at 309 feet. By 1902, two more buildings would then surpass the height of the New York World Building.
Going back further, Trinity Church, built from 1846 to 1853, decades before the Chelsea Hotel, is 279 feet. Also in 1853, the Latting Observatory of the Crystal Palace was 315 feet, though it burned down in 1858.