Best underappreciated skyscraper (2008)

the original McGraw-Hill Building

Perhaps it's because it stands on an unappealing stretch of West 42nd Street. Or maybe it's because it looks like a tall green warehouse. Or it could be that people just think it's ugly. Whatever the reason, the original McGraw-Hill Building doesn't earn a lot of kudos when talk turns to the city's favorite edifices. But let's change that—at least for the moment—and nominate this odd combination of Art Deco and utilitarianism as New York's best underappreciated skyscraper. Unlike its 42nd Street cousin—the magisterial, almost sci-fi Chrysler Building—the McGraw-Hill Building looks like it's here to do work: It's Art Deco with its sleeves rolled up, not a martini shaker in its hand. Designed by Raymond Hood and built in 1931, the skyscraper rises 33 stories and is topped with the publishing company's name carved in huge Deco lettering—not quite the Chrysler Building's capping sunburst, but a design element to cheer typographers everywhere. On your next stroll down the block, make sure to stop into the building's streamlined Carrera-glass and stainless-steel lobby: Stepping into this fabulous entryway feels like you've boarded a sleek, 1930s ocean liner sailing its much-too-optimistic way into the future.


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