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Saturday
Jun052010

Werewolf Heads?

I was waiting for a meeting to begin in our conference room on the 32nd floor.  Being early, I blankly looked out at the view.  I have looked out that way many times (it's a good view), but this time I happened to notice the roof and details of the building directly across the street. 

I was struck by the amount of detail in the building (which I had never noticed).  In particular, I was amazed by the row of animal heads along the top rim.  What effort to create these in a location that is impossible to see from the street.  As a matter of fact, the only place you could really see them was from where I stood. 

But, when the building was created, it was decided that there should be the work and expense of adding this detail.   Not an uncommon thing in those days, I guess, especially when you see the work put into the Woolworth Building a few blocks north.  But still, this attention to detail is missing from the new construction. 

Lookin at the row of 17 heads, it wasn't really clear to me what this animal was.  It seemed like it was a lion at first, but looking closer made me unsure.   It actually kind of looks like a werewolf to me.  And I'll bet there were more werewolves on the other sides.  All, but the west wall, which is now connected to the Hilton Millennium Hotel.  The hotel was certainly built later, and maybe they needed to remove the werewolves from that side.  So that would be 51 heads or so (maybe 68 when it was built). Where are those heads from the west wall now?

So, these heads, made me curious about this building and the effort put into its creation.  I'm sure I had passed it from the street, but from this perspective, I had no idea what it was. 

So, my research began by doing a Google Map search on the street to figure out the address.  Moving into the Street View mode, I could see the front of the building.  Ah, so this is 195 Broadway.   Oh yes, I remembered this building had a large marble lobby and I taken a picture of a man sitting there that I called "Lobby Contemplation". 

 

Knowing the exact address now, my next stop was Wikipedia, which had a page about 195 Broadway

I now know this was the original home of AT&T, occupied from 1916 until 1983. And, this was from where the first trans-Atlantic telephone call was placed. 

Now missing is the original 28' foot gold plated statue called "Genius of Electricity" that originally sat on top of the building (again probably best seen from my building which did not exist in those days).  It was later taken down from the roof and moved to the new AT&T building uptown, and then to their headquarters in Basking Ridge.  When SBC bought AT&T, and then later changed their own name from SBC to AT&T, they again relocated the Genius to their home office in Dallas.  That is a lot of effort and expense to move a 16 ton statue.  

 Here are some pictures of the building taken by others.  It kind of amazes me to realize the effort that went to creating and paying for the werewolves, building the columns, and the 16-ton statue (and to move it to Dallas). But then someone wanted to build the pyramids too.  There are a lot of remarkable buildings in New York, so this one is only a member of the list.  But, it was new to me, at least from the top.

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