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Little Singer Building

Little Singer Building (38)

This lovely little art deco building, with its terracotta panels, wrought-iron balconies and large windows, is named after the manufacturer of the famous sewing machine, since it was home to the Singer Corporation. It is called "little", because it was the smaller of the two buildings that Singer occupied in the district.

The larger of the two, the Singer Building, was built in 1908 and was the highest skyscraper in the world, at 187 metres tall. Unfortunately it only enjoyed that title for one year, since the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower, which was built in 1909, reached 213 metres. The Singer Building was demolished in 1968 and shortly thereafter replaced by 1 Liberty Plaza. Luckily, its younger brother, Little Singer Building, is still standing today.  

Both were designed by Ernest Flagg, a New York architect born in Brooklyn in 1857 and a fan of the Neo-Renaissance style. Although he was responsible for many other buildings, this was without doubt his most successful work in structural terms. Pay attention to the details of the wrought iron, the combination of terracotta and dark green colours and the huge arch on the second-top floor. The Little Singer Building, with its façade of large windows and iron structure, is the forerunner of the glazed skyscrapers so typical of the modern era, popular after World War II. Even the fact that it was built of brick and metal meant that it was designed to withstand fire. It really was a breakthrough.

Incidentally, there's a detail that often goes unnoticed: the layout of the building is L-shaped, so if you want to see the other façade you have to go to Prince Street, although, of course, the most spectacular façade is on Broadway.

If you enjoyed this building by Ernest Flagg, we recommend you head to 597 Fifth Avenue, where you will find Charles Scribner's Sons Building of 1912, a jewel of the style that the architect loved most: Neo-Renaissance.

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