Monday, December 27, 2010

News Building

New York is filled with beautiful lobbies. Most of the lobbies of the city are rooms you'll never enter. If you don't work in the building, if you never make a delivery there or visit for any other reason, the splendor of the lobby will go unseen. So it's good, now and then, to wander into a lobby. I did that recently in the News Building on 42nd Street.

Long the home of the New York Daily News (no more--why do newspapers abandon their splendid monuments?), the building was completed in 1930. Its facade is carved with a bustling urban scene, the skyscraper above it all, like a god in the heavens--exteriors like this often indicate a lobby worth seeing.

Inside, under a black glass dome, a giant glowing globe seems to float in white light. Decked out for the holidays with faux snow-covered fir trees, it creates an unearthly view of Earth.

On its axis, the globe slowly turns, clunking and ticking like a heavy clock. Along the glass steps of the lighted pit that holds it are pieces of painted text from 1960, each one explaining the distances between Earth and the Sun and distant stars. There is a reference to the 1933 World's Fair, its own relevance a distant memory.

Radiating from the globe, compass points and directional lines shoot across the lobby floor, marking the miles from New York to faraway cities, their names written in bronze. Behind the globe, the white marble walls lead to elevator banks, the numbers lit in Art Deco. The built-in newsstand is heralded by a single sign that says CIGARS in creamy light, a survivor from the time when that's why you visited the newsstand. A memorial lists the names of every Daily News employee who served in World War II.

It must have been an incredible feeling, to be a journalist and to walk through this lobby every day. To feel the importance of your work. To feel a part of the world and its movement.

Although, in this scene from Superman, Lois and Clark seem not to notice. Even a lobby like this becomes everyday when you walk through it every day.


ShatteredMonocle said...

Love this. Chrysler Building lobby is another amazing one.

Anonymous said...

Next time you're in the neighborhood, also check out the lobby of the Chanin Building on Lex and 42nd. It has beautiful deco metalwork on the elevator doors and radiator grilles. The style matches the frieze design on the exterior. (And it has its own indoor subway entrance!)

cee said...

it is the largest indoor globe in the world

Streets of Stamford said...

The first thing I thought of when I saw the title of this post was that scene in Superman! It's one of my favorite movies, obviously. Of course, if they made that movie now, they'd recreate the lobby on a soundstage in Toronto or Sydney.

Jeremiah Moss said...

yes, heard about the Stoned Crow. Marty Wombacher had a nice tribute to the place and its owner on his blog:

Reet said...

Does anyone know the meaning of the saying on the facade: "He Made So Many of the"? Is it a reference to the creator of the many working men/women depicted on the facade?

Anonymous said...

The inscription is credited to Abraham Lincoln, who said: "God must have loved the common people, he made so many of them."