Monday, 30 March 2020

New York City Landmarks No. 2 – Met Life Building

At the time (1909 -1913) of these postcards this was the world’s tallest building. It has a complicated history of building, rebuilding, partial demolition and consolidation but it retains the appearance of a pioneering skyscraper. The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (Met Life) occupied the premises from inception in 1909 up to 2005. In its current form it operates as a hotel plus office accommodation for Credit Suisse. Met Life (No. 43 on the Fortune 500) still have their board room and some executive offices in the building. Company activities are proudly presented here with the emphasis on the sheer scale of operations. Kafkaesque interiors in which faceless clerks toil away, checking and collating, in the shadow of towering cabinets stuffed with bulging customer files. Deep in the basement, massive turbines generate power for heating, lighting and the elevators while visitors enter and leave the building via the intimidating grandeur of the vast Marble Court and Grand Stairway. Advertising examples illustrate the extent to which the insurance industry insinuates itself into the necessities of modern life from education to dentistry, from housing to health - there’s always money to be made from fear and insecurity. 

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