43-story Art Deco skyscraper designated

275 Madison Ave. Image: LPC.

1931 building among Texas architect’s diverse body of works. Landmarks voted unanimously to designate 275 Madison Avenue as an individual City landmark on January 13, 2009. The 43-story tower was designed by architect Kenneth Franzheim for Houston banker Jesse H. Jones. Though he made his fortune in banking and real estate development, Jones also served as Chairman of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and as Secretary of Commerce under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Jones often retained Franzheim for his development projects, including an auditorium built in Houston for the 1928 Democratic Convention.

275 Madison was built towards the end of the City’s skyscraper boom, which ended during the Great Depression. The Art Deco building features a three-story high ornamented base, and a 40-story slab-form tower. The tower’s setbacks and unique shape were largely inspired by the 1916 Zoning Resolution, partly enacted to keep tall buildings from blocking light and air to the street. The building features prominently in photographer Berenice Abbott’s series “Changing New York.” Commissioner Pablo Vengoechea called it one of the City’s iconic skyscrapers, and noted significance in its reflection of the Zoning Resolution’s shaping of the skyline.

The same day, Landmarks designated two public libraries in Harlem, a 19th-century Dutch-American farmhouse in Brooklyn known as the Hubbard House, and 90 Bayview Avenue in Staten Island, an ornate 1880s Renaissance-revival residence.

LPC: 275 Madison Avenue Building, 275 Madison Ave., Manhattan (LP-2286) (Jan. 13, 2009).


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