Is Metlife North the Most Interesting Building in NYC?

The MetLife North Building is situated at 11 Madison Avenue, between East 24th nd East 25th Streets. Begun in 1928 as the new headquarters of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., it was annexed to the historic MetLife Tower (completed in 1909, and modeled on the Venetian Campanile de San Marco) just next door, at the corner of East 23rd. Note the grand entryways at each of the four corners of the block, and the layers of stepbacks — quite a bit of design detail for an awkwardly proportioned, 29-story building.

It seems that the MetLife North was originally slated to be the tallest building in the world when ground was broken. Here’s a scale model of the original design (right), with 100 floors. But construction was stopped abruptly in 1933, as the Great Depression settled in and New York real estate ground to a near halt. After the war, the building was wrapped up at its current height — the tower was never built.