About a month ago, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to protect the midcentury modern interior of the Manufacturers Trust bank building on Fifth Avenue. Now owner Vornado wants to do some demolishing and Landmarks said "try again."
The Municipal Art Society of New York sent along the building's welcome brochure from 1955, recently discovered in their archives.
Below, we see a panoramic Mad Mennish shot of the Main Banking Room on the second floor, featuring artist Harry Bertoia's "sculptured metal screen," measuring 70 feet long and 16 feet high, with 800 brass, copper, and nickel panels floating together at various depths.
Landmarking came too late to save the "floating screen," which was removed last year by owner JP Morgan Chase against much protest.
Here's a closer shot of the screen where "Every customer convenience and comfort amidst stimulating and friendly surroundings is provided for."
The bank's 30-ton doored Mosler vault is still in the building today, still "in full view of 8 million New Yorkers" on the street level. The brochure tells us that this door is "stronger, heavier and thicker than the two Mosler doors that successfully withstood the atom bomb at Hiroshima."
And here's a noirish shot of a man in overcoat and fedora, contemplating perhaps the riches within that not even an atom bomb will access.
Finally, a voyeuristic, Hopperesque view of a trio in an office. The man is a visiting out-of-town customer, according to the brochure. He is confident, taking up space with his arm stretched out across the sofa, his briefcase at his feet, fedora and overcoat resting on the opposite arm.
The banker's secretary is taking notes. She is in white, while the banker is in dark shadow, not much more than a pair of shoulders and a Brylcreemed head. What happens between them when the curtains are closed?