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Met Life: 1905

Met Life: 1905

New York circa 1905. "Metropolitan Life Insurance building, Madison Avenue and East 23rd Street." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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Masonry spire

I love those masonry spires. Bruges' Church of Our Lady also has such a spire.

Madison Square Station Post Office

Even into the early 1990’s it was common to send away box tops, or your Business Reply Mail, to a PO Box at Madison Square Station.

Madison Square Presbyterian 2 and 1

The activity on the left side of this photo is most fascinating. One church (on the far left) is being constructed, to become the new home of the church immediately next to it (which dated back to 1854). The reason the older church needed to relocate was that Met Life wasn't finished building its headquarters, and intended to build the world's tallest building in place of the old church. When completed in 1906 on that site, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Tower was the world's tallest building for three years, until Woolworth built a taller one.

The new Madison Square Presbyterian Church on the far left, designed by Stanford White, would only be in place for 13 years. It was replaced in 1919 to make room for yet another annex to the Met Life headquarters, but many of its features were moved to other nearby buildings. For more, there are separate Wikipedia pages on both churches, here and here.

A sense of wonder

Every so often Shorpy pictures makes me stop and ponder.

Here is yet another picture of a huge, ornate building created from scratch by people whose primary means of transportation seems to be horse and buggy. How did they do that?!?

Well, I'm an engineer type, so, rationally: Piece of cake. Completely doable. It didn't take ancient astronauts.

But still. Notice that big block on the corner? That puppy ain't made of Styrofoam.


Those were the days when insurance companies were the biggest consumers of four leaf clovers. They sent them out with bills.

What's with the column?

The officer seems concerned by the fact it's seemingly been abandoned at the intersection. You can see where there's a roller beneath it, so it had to have been in the process of being moved somewhere. (Guessing the new church?)

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