5. The Brill Building, 1619 Broadway
In 1929, developer Abraham Lefcourt joined the race against the construction of the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings to build the tallest building in the world. Lefcourt’s plans were for a leased plot at Broadway and 49th street, the site of a clothing store owned by the Brill Brothers. When the stock market crashed and Lefcourt’s son, Alan E. Lefcourt, died unexpectedly, his building ambitions were tempered. Instead of the tallest building in the world, he would go on to build a 10-story office building and name it after his son. Ornamented with a bronze bust of Lefcourt’s son, the Art-Deco building was known as the Lefcourt-Alan Building until Lefcourt defaulted on his lease in 1932 and the Brill Brothers renamed it after themselves.
The Brill building quickly filled up with various musical tenants, from performers and producers, to booking agents and vocal coaches. As jazz and big band music rose in popularity, artist like Duke Ellington and Nat King Cole leased offices inside. Soon the Brill name became synonymous with a musical movement, the Brill Building sound. 1619 Broadway became the epicenter of pop-music in the 1950s and 60s and a hit factory where music industry professionals like Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who wrote for Elvis Presley, churned out radio gold.
The architectural beauty of the Brill Building and its contribution to the music industry earned it landmark status in 2010.