The Skyscraper Museum is devoted to the study of high-rise building, past, present, and future. The Museum explores tall buildings as objects of design, products of technology, sites of construction, investments in real estate, and places of work and residence. This site will look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.
Singer Building, c. 1908, Library of Congress.
Rising to 612 feet, the 47-story Singer Tower was the tallest building in the world when it was completed in 1908. Designed as a corporate headquarters for successful Singer Manufacturing Company, the tower represented the boldest expression to date of New York's ambitious vertical construction, overtopping the turn-of-the-century record holder, the neighboring 15 Park Row, by more than 225 feet.
Architect Ernest Flagg, who had designed the two earlier buildings on the property for the company, combined the existing structures to create a 14-story uniform base upon which a 35-floor tower would rise. His slender shaft of red brick and bluestone in the "modern French" style amazed architectural critics, including Montgomery Schuyler, who judged the Singer Tower "among the most interesting of our experiments in skyscraping."
Previously known as an outspoken critic of tall buildings, the Beaux-Arts trained Flagg defended his design as a model for skyscraper reform. The future city, as he envisioned it, would be composed of buildings with thin, campanile-like towers limited to one-quarter of the area of the site. Thus, lower office blocks would combine to create an ordered urban ensemble, but the isolated towers-memorable, unique, and artfully disposed-would present a freer arrangement of a "picturesque, interesting, and beautiful" skyline with a European flavor.
In 1968, the Singer Tower became the tallest building ever demolished as both Singer and its neighboring City Investing Company Building made way for the U.S. Steel Building, now known as 1 Liberty Plaza.