3. The Pan Am Building was supposed to run from north to south, not east to west
In 1954, there were a few proposals to build a skyscraper above Grand Central Terminal as a way for rail lines using Grand Central to increase revenues. Erwin Wolfson proposed a 3-million-square-foot building to replace a five-story office building by the terminal. Using aluminum and glass, Emery Roth and Sons designed a 57-story tower that ran from north to south. The Roths worked with this orientation since the building’s shorter east-west axis matched the width of the tower of the nearby New York Central Building — now the Helmsley Building.
However, Wolfson brought in high-profile architects to reconsider the initial design, since he felt that the design was modest and underwhelming. These architects, Gropius and Belluschi, revised parts of the design and also reoriented the building so that it ran from east to west. Now, the MetLife Building blocks the view down Park Avenue.