10. The Starrett-Lehigh Building is one of the city’s oldest modern buildings

Starrett Lehigh Building
Starrett-Lehigh Building

Sitting atop the freight transport center of the city is one of New York City’s oldest “modern” buildings, The Starrett-Lehigh Building on West 26th Street. It was built in 1931 as a transportation and distribution center for the Starrett real-estate interests and the Lehigh Valley Railroad. Built during a time when almost everything was transported by train — Chelsea was also one of the city’s most lucrative shipping and containment centers — the Starrett-Lehigh Building was constructed as a hub for freight transportation and used primarily to store and process items in transit.

The building is supported from the inside by steel beams because its walls, made entirely of glass, cannot directly support their own weight. The building also takes up an entire city block, one of only a few in the city. The site’s floor plan consists of a nine-floor wing on the west, an 18-floor wing on the east, and a 19-floor middle section.The building used enormous 30-foot elevators to lift trucks and freight cars, brought in from the Lehigh Valley Railroad freight yard to the upper floors of the building. The freight yard is now no longer used, but its elevators remain. The building contains offices and design studios, with panoramic views of the Hudson River, which just under a century ago was once brimming with shipping containers. Fun fact: The Untapped New York offices were located inside the Starrett Lehigh building before!