The Salmon Tower

500 Fifth Avenue

(Northwest corner at 42nd Street)

Developer: Walter J. Salmon

Architect: Shreve Lamb & Harmon

Erected: 1930

500 Fifth Avenue tower overlooks the New York Public Library directly to the south












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 same architects.

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.

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