Barclay-Vesey Building
140 West St.

Constructed: 1927
Voorhees, Gmelin & Walker
New York Telephone Company
General Contractor:
Marc Eidlitz & Son
Original Owner:
New York Telephone Co.
Current Owner:
Current Tenant: Verizon
Height: 498 ft / 152 m
Floors: 32

Also known as the New York Telephone Company Building, this 498-foot tall edifice was constructed as a switching center and office building for The New York Telephone Company. The bulky base, which rose directly from the lot lines, was only possible because of the switching machinery it contained; windows were unnecessary, so the entire internal core could be utilized. Ralph Walker used the mandated set-backs to create a well-lit office tower above the switching floors, beautifully matching form to function. The building's austere, vaguely historical, and emphatically vertical articulation further expressed its machine aesthetic. Yet the architect was no European Modernist; he sought to maintain "the human touch" in the building. While "the telephone was a machine technique," he remarked, "it also meant a communication of emotion." At the ground floor, the building provides a Guastovino-tiled arcade in place of the sidewalk, offering shelter and beauty to neighbors and tenants alike.