Tall Manhattan Buildings That Aren’t Offices, Or Why I’m a Complete Idiot

After working at American Express for almost a year now, I’ve discovered something about our view to the north. When we look out the window, we see what looks like a large brick deco building with two antennae on top. What we are actually seeing is a brick deco building with a near-identical yet larger brick deco building directly behind it with two antennae.

I discovered this on Saturday when I attended a rooftop gathering in Tribeca, a charity fundraiser for XKCD.com‘s new comic strip compilation. Here is the view of the same building from the back. Note my office in the back on the right, and the lack of antennae. The building we see is 60 Hudson St. The building behind it is 32 Avenue of the Americas.

Looking at google maps, I see that the sightline from our office to both buildings is a completely straight line.

This drove me nuts for quite some time. I could never be sure if I was looking at 60 Hudson or 32 Avenue of the Americas. Turns out, it was both.

The fun part is the 60 Hudson is the old Western Union building, but has been converted into a carrier hotel, meaning that it primarily houses telecommunications hardware – fiber optic lines, switches, servers, etc. There’s very little office space in there. In a similar fashion, 33 Thomas Street is a massive telephone exchange building. I had often wondered what the story was with this scary, monolithic, windowless building. Who would want to work in there? Well, very few people do. In fact, the top section is mostly empty space for ventilation.

A similar purpose is served by Verizon’s 374 Pearl St. So that’s a total of four buildings in lower Manhattan that serve mainly as technology and telecommunications hubs. 60 Hudson, in fact, has so much diesel fuel in it for the emergency generators that it’s making the now-residential Tribeca neighbors very nervous, post 9/11.

3 thoughts on “Tall Manhattan Buildings That Aren’t Offices, Or Why I’m a Complete Idiot”

  1. That is amazing about the buildings. I never would have thought they were used for storage, but I guess it makes sense. That’s funny about meeting the author, and also that you had your camera set to “crappy” mode. 🙂 You crack me up!

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