Landmarks Preservation Commission designates the Heckscher Building, a French Renaissance tower by Warren & Wetmore from 1922

Heavy Lies the Crown

Landmarks Preservation Commission designates the Heckscher Building, a French Renaissance tower by Warren & Wetmore from 1922

The Heckscher Building, now called the Crown Building, is located at 730 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. (Courtesy Landmarks Preservation Commission)

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted unanimously today to designate the Heckscher Building an individual landmark. The Heckscher Building was completed in 1922 by Warren & Wetmore, the architects of other prominent buildings like Grand Central Terminal, the New York Yacht Club, and the New York Central Building.

The Heckscher Building is located at 730 Fifth Avenue on the southwest corner of 57th Street. When it was built, it was one of the first tall buildings in Midtown Manhattan and quickly became one of New York’s most visible skyscrapers.

The building stands 25 stories tall, and begins to setback at the 13th and 24th stories. The Heckscher’s exquisite iconography and detailing by Warren & Wetmore took cues from ornamentation found in French palaces built under Francis I.

archival photo of building
The Heckscher Building circa 1921 (Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain)

From afar, the Heckscher’s most recognizable feature is its green pyramidal roof with an attractive patina that can be spotted from miles away. Originally, the tower had gilded elements and a ten-foot-tall weathervane, but those were removed in the 1940s. The tower was renamed Crown Building in 1983.

The building warranted landmark status for myriad reasons, LPC said. Architects may recognize the Heckscher as the place where, in 1932, Philip Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock curated Modern Architecture: International Exhibition.

MoMA also held exhibitions indebted to Cezanne, Gauguin, Seurat, and van Gogh at the Heckscher too. The Heckscher—also known as “The Tower of Trade”—is where Universal Pictures and Alfred A. Knopf rented office space as well.

Aside from the historic moments that took place inside its walls, the Heckscher possesses significant technical characteristics that made it apt for landmark designation, LPC continued. It is one of the earliest surviving towers to conform to the 1916 Zoning Resolution, the LPC noted. Thus, the setback building tapers to allow in light and air onto the street down below.

Heckscher Building
Heckscher Building today (Courtesy Landmarks Preservation Commission)

This week’s designation will preserve the tower for future generations. “The Heckscher Building represents a critical moment in New York City history when architecture rose to meet the moment, innovating to improve quality of life and creating iconic structures that shaped our skyline, and has undergone a recent rehabilitation that supports New York City’s economic strength,” said LPC chair Sarah Carroll.