New York City, NY

Ghost Signs of NYC: General Electric

Frank Mastropolo

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=1JxXes_0h8HoVJJ00
570 Lexington Avenue©Frank Mastropolo

The 50-floor General Electric Building was built in 1931 as the RCA Victor Building. RCA at the time was a subsidiary of General Electric, RCA did not remain in the building long, moving to 30 Rockefeller Plaza in 1933. At that time the building was deeded over and renamed for General Electric.

Described as "one of the city's most exquisite Art Deco jewels," architect John W. Cross described his concept in the May 30, 1931 issue of the Real Estate Record and Guide. "Romantic though radio may be, it is at the same time intangible and elusive—a thing which can be captured visually only through symbolism."

As an illustration, a large clock with the famous cursive GE logo is above the main entrance. It is flanked by two disembodied arms that hold bolts of lightning. The lightning bolt motif, used throughout the building, depicts the radio transmission waves sent by RCA across the country.

The building had to be designed to be compatible with the Byzantine dome of its neighbor, St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, and was built with the same salmon-colored terra-cotta brick.

During the real estate depression of the early 1990s, General Electric found it could not rent its small floors at rates high enough to cover expenses. In 1993 GE donated the building to Columbia University, which attracted new tenants after renovations.

"It may not be the largest gift in the history of Columbia, but we believe it's the tallest one," said Dennis D. Dammerman, senior vice president of finance at General Electric.

Mastropolo is the author of Ghost Signs 2: Clues to Uptown New York's Past and Ghost Signs: Clues to Downtown New York's Past.

Comments / 1

Published by

Frank Mastropolo is the author of Fillmore East: The Venue That Changed Rock Music Forever, one of Best Classic Bands' Best Music Books of 2021; New York Groove: An Inside Look at the Stars, Shows, and Songs That Make NYC Rock; the What's Your Rock IQ? Trivia Quiz Book series; Ghost Signs: Clues to Downtown New York's Past, winner of the 2021 Independent Publishers Book Award; and Ghost Signs 2: Clues to Uptown New York's Past. Mastropolo is a journalist, photographer, and former ABC News 20/20 producer, winner of the Alfred I. DuPont–Columbia University silver baton. His photography is featured in the Bill Graham Rock & Roll Revolution exhibition.

New York, NY
1685 followers

More from Frank Mastropolo

Comments / 0