New York Central Building


The New York Central Building, today Helmsley Building, is a 35-story landmark skyscraper at 230 Park Avenue, between East 45th and 46th streets, just north of Grand Central Terminal, in Midtown Manhattan. It was completed in 1929 as the counterpart to Grand Central Terminal.

The building was designed by Warren & Wetmore, an old architecture firm in New York City, which was a partnership between Whitney Warren (1864–1943) and Charles Delevan Wetmore (1866–1941). The firm, formed in 1898, also designed the Vanderbilt Hotel, completed in 1912, the Grand Central Terminal, completed in 1913, and several other notable buildings.

Its construction required some innovative circulation systems in the Park Avenue. Negotiations with city officials allowed its construction astride Park Avenue. The sidewalk and road traffic from the boulevard continues through pedestrian corridors and tunnels for vehicles at the base of the building. Its slender tower and ornate roof are visible for miles.

The New York Central Building was designed in Beaux-Arts style in the same materials of the Grand Central Terminal, like limestone with bronze grilles. The ornate cupola was designed as a beacon. It housed a great glass ball which had the power of a coastal lighthouse. The building's 15-story wings embrace the Park Avenue corridor. The imagery represents symbols of industrial progress. It includes a winged helmet of Mercury, the mallet and fasces (denoting Development & Power), a pendulum supporting the wheels of Progress, the winged wheel of Advancement and the scroll of Wisdom, as well as other emblems of Research, Discovery and Engineering Progress. Winged wheels of Progress also appear on the 45th Street facade's canopy anchors. In the 15th story cornice a herd of 78 terra cotta bison heads surmounts three varieties of pendant medallions.

Construction of the foundation began in December 1926. Final plans for the structure were submitted on February 11, 1927. On May 19th, the James Stewart Construction Company anchored the last of the New York Central Building's steel piers 50 feet into the ground. It was completed on September 25, 1929

After the bankruptcy of the New York Central Railroad, the structure was sold and renamed in 1958 as the New York General Building. Later, real estate magnate Harry Helmsley purchased the building in 1977. Then the structure was renovated and renamed Helmsley Building, in 1978.

In 1962 the much taller and wider Pan Am Building (200 Park Avenue) stole the sky with its 59 stories.

The building was designated a New York City Landmark in 1987.

In 1998, the building was sold to the Max Capital Management Corporation. In 2005, it was sold again to Istithmar, an investment firm owned by the royal family of Dubai. In 2007, it was sold to Goldman Sachs. In 2015, it was sold to RXR Realty.




New York Central Building


Old City of New York


Copyright © Geographic Guide - Old images of NYC, Architecture.


The New York Central Building, looking south, about 1930. Vintage postcard, color lithograph by Detroit Publishing Company. Text on print: Courtesy of James Stewart & Co. Inc., Builders.


Section of the New York Central Building showing roadways (pedestrian corridors not illustrated). East 46th St. and Park Avenue are in the center foreground. Depew Place at left, Vanderbilt Avenue at right and Grand Central Terminal in rear.

Below, enlarged fragment, photo on the right.


New York Central Building


Helmsley Building



Lobby of New York Central Building, vintage postcard by Union News Company.


The New York Central Building, looking south, vintage postcard by Brown Brothers.


Park Avenue traffic



One of the Main Elevator Alcoves of the New York Central Building, vintage postcard by Union News Company.


Map of Park Avenue NY


Pan Am Building


Park Avennue


Park Avenue


The Helmsley Building in August 2010, looking south from 47th St. Photo Jim Henderson.


Park Avenue NY


Historic Buildings


East 46th Street