Surprising New York Life building facts.
Did you know the current New York Life building was once home to Madison Square Garden? In 1923 the board of directors approved the establishment of a building committee to erect a new Home Office on the site of the original Madison Square Garden located on the corner of 26th Street and Madison Avenue. Cass Gilbert, the architect of the U.S. Supreme Court building and the Woolworth Building, designed it.
In 1925, excavation began and the cornerstone was laid on June 17, 1927. New York Life President Darwin Kingsley dedicated the new site calling the future building a “Cathedral of Insurance...to the better development of the science of society.”
The building was completed after two years of construction and opened for business on November 19, 1928.
A few weeks later, Kingsley delivered a radio address to commemorate the opening, while U.S. President Calvin Coolidge pressed a button in the White House and unfurled an American flag in the Home Office lobby. The building was designated an official New York City landmark by the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission in 2000, and as of 1972 is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as a National Historic Landmark.
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