Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Gallery 2 - The late years: 1904 - 1930

The look of the Manhattan Life Insurance Building changed in the early 20th century. The building got an annex on the left side of its Broadway front, so the front became wider. The cupola was renewed to keep the symmetry of the building.

Following the description the first picture was taken in 1908. If the work for the new look of the building really started in 1904, this picture must have been taken in 1904 too and not in 1908.

I don't know the dates, when the next three pictures were taken, but they are all showing the new look of the building in an awesome way. I think the third picture is the oldest, because the old structures can still be seen on the right side of the MLIB.


The following two pictures are dated to be taken in 1900, but correct would be 1900s, because with a look on the copula of the MLIB they must have been shot in or after 1904.

Here is the MLIB on the total right of the picture. We see the longer copular, but by using only a short view it seems that the old round copula was pictured here.

I like this picture with the Pennsylvania Railroad Ferry in the foreground. In the background you can see a lot of the great old buildings from the first generation of skycrapers and the "new" MLIB in the middle.

This picture was taken in 1903, when the new copula wasn't finally finished. With two old and long gone skyscrapers (Gillender Building and Hanover Bank Building) in the foreground and the MLIB on the left side of the Gillender Building.


A Broadway street view from 1905 showing the Trinity Church in the foreground and the MLIB in the right background.


An old aerial photo from Lower Manhattan, taken in 1906 with a special dusty atmosphere. The MLIB is hidden in the dust here.


And another Broadway view, now from the year 1908, similar to the last one:

The next picture shows the frontpage of the "New York Tribune", it's hard to read, but I think, it's the one from the 1st of December 1907. Watch out for the Singer Building Tower on the left side, the construction of the Singer Building seems to be nearly finished at this point of time.

A similar view is also shown on this old stereo card (without a date and without the Singer Building Tower, maybe taken earlier than the last one):

The next picture maybe was taken in 1908 too, but I am not sure. It seems to be shot from somewhere behind Trinity Place. On the left side the Trinity Building, down on the ground the old Equitable Building, that burned down in January 1912, next Building right the American Surety Building (Bank of Tokyo today), the Gillender Building in the middle background, Trinity Church in the middle foreground, the Empire Building on the right side and mostly hidden behind that the MLIB.

A Brooklyn view of the late 1900s Manhattan showing the Brooklyn Bridge in the foreground and the South Manhattan skyline in the background with the new dome of the MLIB in the right center of the picture.


The Manhattan Skyline in 1911, shot from south east. The MLIB is mostly hidden behind another building, but it's possible to recognize the upper part of the copula and the strange construction on the non-Broadway-front part of the roof.


We leave the 1900s and enter the 1910s now, with a picture of the scenery taken from the south. Watch out for the Hudson Terminal in the left background (today the eastern part of Ground Zero), the Singer Building Tower and the City Investing Tower (the white building behind), the Trinity Building (grey building on the ground before), the Empire Building (light building in the center), the MLIB on the right side and the Columbia Building in the right foreground.

Another 1912 Manhattan skyline picture with the photograph on a bridge, maybe Brooklyn Bridge. In the left middle the Bankers Trust Building, on the right side the Singer Building Tower and City Investing Tower. The MLIB can be found at the left side of the BTB, but it's hard to identify, because of the perspective of the photograph.


One year later we see a similar scenery, pictured in April 1913:

Some interesting changes happened in the year between the two pictures. The MLIB got a new neighbour on the right side. The Bankers Trust Building appeared behind the MLIB. In the center background there is also a new tower behind the Singer Building: the Woolworth Building at the southwest end of the City Hall Park. And the Columbia Building in the right foreground lost it's lovely oldschool roof and got more floors and a flat roof now.

Another picture from 1912, showing nearly the same view.


This picture was dated to be taken in 1914, but you see the new Equitable Building on the right side, finished in 1915, so it seems to be taken later, maybe in 1916. It's hard to find the MLIB here, it's mostly hidden behind another building at the left middle.

The second 1916 picture has the same problem. The MLIB is hidden behind some other structures.


Next picture was taken while World War One in Februar 1917. It shows the Manhattan skyline seen from the west, maybe from New Jersey. Municipal Building and Woolworth Building on the left side, the Hudson Terminal darker on the ground on the right side, then the City Investing Tower and the Singer Building, the new Equitable Building, the pyramide of the Bankers Trust Building and right of it in the darkness on the ground the MLIB, 20 years before the highest building in Manhattan, now dwarfed by the surrounding structures.


Here is another aerial view from the Lower Manhattan area, taken in 1919. And it's hard to find the MLIB again. You find the top of the building on the left side of the Bankers Trust Building.

Early 1920s

Leaving the 1910s and entering another decade we reach this early 1920s aerial view of Lower Manhattan, shot from south eastern. The MLIB is hidden in the upper right quadrant of the picture. I took a second partial view, showing the MLIB's copula in the center of the picture.


The next aerial view was shot in 1922, the MLIB is hidden again on the left side of the Bankers Trust Building in the upper center of the picture.


Another aerial view, straight down now and taken in 1924, similar to a satellite picture in present.


Another year, a new perspective: Broad Street in 1926. Stock Exchange in the center foreground, Bankers Trust Building and Equitable Building on the right side. And the copula of the MLIB in the left background.


A new aerial view taken in July 1927 from the south. The MLIB is hidden in the upper middle of the picture, only a few years later the Irving Trust Building appeared on the left side, here on this picture it would be behind the MLIB.

One more Manhattan aerial view, also taken in 1927. The MLIB is hardly hidden in the middle left of the picture. Watch out for the dome.


One more aerial view of Lower Manhattan, the financial district shot in 1929, the Black Friday year. In this picture the MLIB can be found nearly in the center of the picture, only a little bit on the right side.

Another aerial view of the 1929 Manhattan, shot from the west, including a good picture of the MLIB's dome in the center of the picture.


The year, when the Manhattan Life Insurance Building has been demolished. Really? Many sources tell so. But have a look at the next gallery.

Construction time for the Irving Trust Building. And on the right side the copula of the MLIB.

Between the shadows of the older or higher buildings, in dark gray on the right side, the MLIB in 1930 again.

Last picture of this gallery without a concrete date, made before the Irving Trust Building was build, the MLIB appears in the right top of the picture, a nice view on the backside of the building.

A special THANK YOU goes to Michal Juroška and Andy Frieder, who found and shared a lot of the pictures, shown in this gallery.

Next gallery here:


  1. This excellent post needs some spelling & grammar help.

    >> The building got an annex on the left side of it's Broadway front

    its, not "it's"

    >> so the front became more wide.

    the front became wider, not "more wide."

    >> The copula was renewed

    cupola, not "copula"

  2. thanks dshnva for grammatical support, I really need it sometimes :-)

    1. Thank you very much for this interessting and wonderful blog. It is lovely to see the life of this 'little strong and elegant skyscraper' I wish it was still there!

      Greetings from Holland, Erzsi

    2. Hi Erzsi, thanks for joining the blog and greetings back from the Lower Rhine Area near the Netherlands borderline.

  3. Thanks for this amazing article on The Manhattan Life Insurance Building was Just searching for kinds of roofings and found this amazing website of yours.