420 Lexington Avenue: Graybar Building
420 Lexington Avenue
Sloan & Robertson, 1927
Named for one of the original tenants, the Graybar electricy and electrical appliances company, this striking Art Deco office building was designed by Sloan and Robertson. Ornament is primarily restricted to the monumental bas-reliefs of the base thanks to developer John R. Todd’s preference for spending money on only the parts of the building that might impress potential tenants.
When it was constructed, the 30-story building was said to be the largest office structure in the world. The New York Times compared the workforce of 12,000 which inhabited the building to a “small city.” Although Graybar left in 1982 when the corporate headquarters were relocated to St. Louis, the name has held on.
Blodgett, Richard, Timeless Values, Enduring Tradition: the Graybar Story (Old Lyme, CT: Greenwich Publishing Group, Inc., 2009), Chapter 3. Available online at: http://history.graybar.com/docs/western- electrics-9-million-baby.pdf
Stern, Robert A. M., Gregory Gilmartin, and Thomas Mellins, New York 1930: Architecture and Urbanism Between the Two World Wars (New York: Rizzoli, 1987), 632.
The WPA Guide to New York City (New York City: Random House, 1992), 224.