Best multi-colored tower that isn't the Empire State Building (2008)

Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Clock Tower

If it survives 2009, what's been known as the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Clock Tower will celebrate its centennial. At its debut, the 700-foot structure was the tallest building in the world; for 12 hours a day, four huge bronze bells (ranging from 1,500 to 7,000 pounds) would chime a melody from Handel's Messiah. But what's been most impressive about the pyramid-capped tower are the clock faces on its four sides, each measuring 26 feet in diameter. Though it usually copies the holiday color patterns seen on the Empire State Building, the clock tower often sports a bright, psychedelic display (backlit by hundreds of lights) that encompasses the outer dial, the hour and minute hands, and the numbers. The eye-popping display, which transfixes Gramercy residents and can be seen miles away, would be the envy of most rock-venue promoters. Though MetLife has used the clock tower for everything from office space to storage, it was sold earlier this year to Africa-Israel Investments, which reportedly intends to convert it into something more practical, the kind of thing that New York City stands in dire need of—yet more luxury apartments.


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >