Long Distance Building of the American Telephone & Telegraph Company – Exterior and Interior

STATUS Designated Exterior and Interior Landmark

32 Sixth Avenue

ARCHITECT:  Voorhees, Gmelin & Walker; Ralph Walker

DATE: 1930-32

STYLE: Art Deco

Art Deco Manhattan Tribeca

The huge concentration of equipment of this building made it a communication crossroads for telephone, tele typewriting, and telephotography. Its polychrome, rough-textured brick exterior embodies the Art Deco style through its setbacks, overall sculpted quality, and linear ornament. This progressive technologically-inspired aesthetic successfully broadcasts the building’s role in housing the technologically sophisticated equipment of a critical American industry.

The Long Distance Building first floor interior is a harmonious complement to the architectural character of the building’s exterior, reflected in the use of rippled surfaces, linear ornament, and earth colored materials. This building was the world’s largest long-distance communications center upon its completion in 1932.

The first floor lobby features an iconographic program that clearly and artfully broadcasts the building’s significance as a hub of international communication, and it displays a linear decorative motif which symbolizes the great distances spanned by the telephone lines and radio waves channeled through this operations facility. The first floor interior was appointed with a terrazzo floor, ceramic iron-spot wall tiles with bronze details, and multi-hued glass mosaic tiles, and it is articulated in an Art Deco aesthetic, an especially appropriate treatment given the building’s associations with technology.

STATUS Designated Exterior and Interior Landmark

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The area now known as Tribeca was originally developed in the early 19th century as a residential neighborhood close to the city’s center in Lower Manhattan. Its street grid was laid out at right angles off of Greenwich Street and on a diagonal off of...

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