Thursday, May 02, 2013

While We're At It...

Speaking of observation decks: Our apartment looks out on the Citigroup Center and I often wonder why the public isn't allowed to enjoy the view from its top floors.

With its slanted roof and inset front panel, the thing looks like a giant periscope. It's just begging for some kind of observation floor. (Since the going rate in Midtown is $25 to $27 a ticket, you'd think it would be worth their while.)

Also, what are these windows on the side?

The Citigroup Center (officially known as 601 Lexington Avenue) also is one of the most recognizable skyscrapers in New York. I would rank it No. 3 — after the Empire State and the Chrysler Building — thanks in part to its star turn in the "Law & Order" opening credits.

And it has a fascinating history. The structure's most famous feature — the slanted roof — stemmed from a desire to put up solar panels. But the building wasn't positioned to provide direct sun access, so they scrapped the idea. (Four years later, President Reagan took down Jimmy Carter's solar panels from the White House roof, so it was a rough period for sun power.)

The building also was constructed on stilts to accommodate a street-level church, and it suffered from a design flaw that made it vulnerable to collapse during a wind storm. The structure was reinforced in secret a year after it opened to fix the problem, and the public didn't find out until much later because there was a press strike going at the time.

Maybe that's a reason not to have an observation deck: People enjoying the view might not want to hear about the building's history as a death trap.