Midtown: Paramount Building (1501 Broadway)
Paramount Pictures left the Paramount Building some fifty years ago. Nevertheless, as a striking reminder of Times Square's boom in the 1920s, and of a founding force behind the motion picture industry, the Paramount Building stands as a important symbol of New York's architectural and cultural past.
Constructed in 1926-27 and standing 391 feet tall, the Paramount Building was, for a time, the tallest building in New York City north of the Woolworth Building. Besides its retail and office space its Paramount Theater became New York City's premier movie palace of that age.
The architects of the Paramount Building and Theater, Cornelius Ward Rapp (1861-1927) and George Leslie Rapp (1878-1942), were among the best known and most prolific designers of imaginative and palatial movie houses in this country during the 1920s. Among their creations was the famous Chicago Theater.
In the 1940s, the Paramount Theater became a showcase for big bands and entertainers such as Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, and young Frank Sinatra. With the advent of television, the movie palace declined in popularity, and soon many large and luxurious theaters in New York were demolished or converted to other uses. In 1964, the Paramount Theater closed, and its immense space was converted for office use in 1966-69 . The large and unique marquee was removed.
In recent years, a Hard Rock Cafe has taken the place of the theater, and together with the current owners of the building, restored the iconic marquee.
The most outstanding element of the building continues to be at the top of the structure - a four-sided clock below an illuminated globe. Instead of numerals, hours are represented by five-pointed stars. The well-known Paramount trademark - a ring of five-pointed stars surrounding a mountain peak - is recalled in the design of the clocks, which cap, symbolically, a ''mountain-like" building. The globe, constructed of ninety panes of glass encased in copper and measuring nineteen feet in diameter, is set on a molded copper pedestal.
During WWII, the globe and clock were painted black as part of the nation's efforts to blackout its coastal cities in the case of a German air or sea attack. Amazingly, it took until 1996 to restore them to their roaring-20's condition!