E. 42nd Street: Corner Shot
This photo manages to show all four buildings at the corner of E. 42nd St. and Lexington Ave.
At left is the Chanin Building, which stands at the southwest corner of the intersection. The structure that takes up the rest of the image is the Grand Hyatt Hotel, on the northwest corner.
Reflected in the black glass facade of the Grand Hyatt are the Socony-Mobil Building, southeast corner, and finally the Chrysler Building at the remaining corner.
Chanin, Socony-Mobil, and Chrysler are all excellent examples of “decorated” buildings; that is, they each feature unique ornamentation of some type on their exterior.
Grand Hyatt is actually a “recycled” structure; it’s reflective glass curtain walls are attached to the structure of the former Commodore Hotel. The Commodore was built for Penn Central Railroad in 1919 as part of the “Terminal City” complex centered around Grand Central Terminal. A large, H-shaped, 26-floor structure, the old Commodore wasn’t much to look at, but with it’s prime location, business was great for decades.
With the decline of the NYC economy and Penn Central’s bankruptcy in the 1970’s, the Commodore was slated to close, its fate uncertain. A young developer named Trump stepped up with an idea for reviving the building with a reflective glass “slipcover.” Except for the bottom few floors, the glass was attached right over the old masonry walls. As strange as it seems, it worked exceptionally well, as the Grand Hyatt has thrived from the beginning.
Although the Grand Hyatt redesign followed the unadorned style of the International School, it actually is beautifully adorned with the worthy reflections its neighbors.