5 New York Buildings That Define the City

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NYC

Photo by David Illif, CC BY 2.5

New York City’s world famous infrastructure is a reflection of its storied past as well as its promising future. The many impressive and historic buildings in NYC are a treat not just for architecture and history enthusiasts, but also for anyone who wants to fill their Instagram with the most epic images possible. Here are five of the top reasons why NYC architecture is renowned the world over.

New York Public Library

The NYPL is an institution with several branches located in different NYC boroughs. The main branch is a large, stately building that’s located at Bryant Park, Manhattan. We covered this building in a feature on New York photographs. Flanked by two stone lions named Patience and Fortitude, its wide staircase entrance frames an imposing structure built in the French architectural style known as Beaux-Arts – combined artistic influences from the French neoclassicism, Renaissance, and Gothic eras. The sculpted, bronze-cast flagpoles outside the library alone are worth the visit. Inside, the Rose Main Reading Room welcomes guests with its high ceilings, massive windows, grand chandeliers, comfortable chairs, sturdy tables, brass lamps, laptop docks, and computers connected to the web and the library’s archives.

The General Electric Building

Not to be confused with the RCA Building at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, which is sometimes still called “GE Building,” this Art Deco masterpiece is located at 570 Lexington Avenue. Apart from its 640-foot octagonal Gothic tower, what really makes this building stand out is its imposing Art Deco crown, furnished with sculptures and decorations, which Timeout explains are symbolic of radio waves and electric power. While this majestic crown is best seen from the viewing decks of other nearby skyscrapers, the building’s lobby alone provides a visual crash course on the futurist Art Deco optimism of early 1900s New York City.

The Guggenheim Museum

The unapologetically modern Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright – in a style that gracefully contrasts with New York’s famously intricate historic structures. Apart from being widely-regarded as one of the most important modern buildings in US history, the Guggenheim is also the permanent home of a consistently growing art collection featuring Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Expressionism, early modern, and contemporary artworks. The museum recently highlighted the work of 20th century Italian surrealist sculptor Alberto Giacometti in a temporary exhibit. Check out the Guggenheim’s website to see their upcoming shows, events, and exhibits.

The Plaza Hotel

This luxury hotel and condominium is protected by NYC’s Landmarks Preservation Commission for its lavish late 19th and late 20th-century revival architecture. It first opened in 1907 as a French Renaissance chateau-style building. Throughout the 1900s, ownership of the Plaza was passed between real estate magnates, and state and industry leaders, owing to the many refurbishments that have led to the hotel/condominium building’s final look today. Given the building’s iconic status as an NYC landmark, units in the Plaza reportedly sell for a minimum of seven figures, which is consistent with the still rising real estate prices in its luxury Midtown Manhattan location. In fact, the price of luxury homes has increased dramatically, according to a post by Yoreevo, with an apartment that was worth $1 million in 1989, now worth $2 million in today’s market. In short, the Plaza is a nice place to visit, but you’re going to have to spend a fortune to live here.

Grand Central Terminal

Just like the New York Public Library, NYC’s Grand Central Terminal was completed in the Beaux-Arts style of architecture. It’s simply one of the most beautiful modern commuter railroad terminals on the planet, earning it several historic landmark designations. The main concourse is a must-see grand hall, complete with a ceiling that’s painted with astronomical signs. Regular architectural tours offered by the terminal’s administration will take you through its many interior attractions. After touring the site, you can rest your weary feet at The Campbell Apartment, a 1920s-style bar.

Marc Andre is the founder and editor of TravelersPress. He loves to travel throughout the U.S., as well as internationally. Marc's favorite activity when traveling is photography.

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