(Northwest corner at 42nd Street)
Developer: Walter J. Salmon
Architect: Shreve Lamb &
By Carter B. Horsley
This 58-story tower was the immediate precursor
to the Empire State Building that was built the next year by the
The main upper tower, not surprisingly, bears
a strong relationship to the Empire State in its vertical emphasis
and good proportions. Here, however, with a much smaller site,
the massing of the base is asymmetrical to tie in with the different
cornice lines on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street.
This is a graceful, utilitarian building but
it does have some nice detailing, especially its own gilded depiction
of itself over the main entrance.
The same developer built the very similar but
shorter office building at 11 West 42nd Street and together they
make an interesting ensemble.
New owners of 500 Fifth Avenue, who have upgraded
the building's retail tenancy, indicated several years ago that
they intended to remove the large air-conditioning vat that sits
ungainly atop the roof and was not part of the original design,
which was a flat roof. Maybe when it is removed, if ever, they
should put another Empire State Building-like mast atop it.