Designate the Long Island City Clock Tower as an individual landmark.
See more: licclocktower.org
The iconic Long Island City Clock Tower, which has towered over Queens Plaza since 1927, is one of the most significant architectural landmarks in Queens. Known historically as the Bank of Manhattan Building (29‑27 Queens Plaza North), the Clock Tower was designed by architect Morrell Smith and was the tallest building in the borough until the Citigroup building (1 Court Square) was erected in 1990. The building’s 14 stories—three of which comprise the tower and house its monumental 14’ four-faced illuminated clock—are faced with buff-colored pressed brick and Indiana limestone trim and boast neo-Gothic historical references that culminate in the crests and gargoyles decorating the battlements.
The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission is currently evaluating the Clock Tower to determine its eligibility for designation, and it has already passed preliminary review. With the recent sale of the building, however, we need an immediate and strong show of community support to ensure that it is preserved.
- New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission
I'm writing to express my support for landmarking the former Bank of Manhattan Building at 29-27 Queens Plaza North, known among local residents simply as 'The Clock Tower.' The 14-story tower and its 14' illuminated clock have dominated the Long Island City skyline for nearly 90 years, and for much of that time the building was the tallest in Queens. The Clock Tower is an iconic symbol of the history and development of Queens Plaza and deserves to be landmarked by virtue of its architectural merit as well as its continued place in the cultural life of the borough.
The building was designed by Queens architect Morrell Smith and completed in 1927. At its completion it was the tallest building in the borough, a title it held until it was surpassed in 1991 by the Citigroup building at 1 Court Square. Even then, the building defined the Long Island City skyline for some time, but the recent development boom in the area has seen the rise of a continuous stream of new construction projects that dwarf the Clock Tower. Notably, a new Marriott building currently under construction across the street from the tower will, once it reaches its planned 32 stories, soar nearly twice the height of the historic building. The Clock Tower, however, remains one of the area's most recognizable landmarks and serves as a symbolic bridge between the plaza's commercial past and its burgeoning renewal.
Mr. Morrell Smith's architectural legacy in Queens includes another landmarked building, the Jamaica Savings Bank, which was designed in the Moderne style and completed in 1939. Alongside the Clock Tower, the two buildings highlight the architect's aptitude for working across different styles. Morrell's Clock Tower is decidedly modern, but its decorative battlements and Neo-Gothic historical references stand in stark contrast to the Savings Bank.
The Clock Tower deserves to be landmarked. The rapid growth and development on Queens Plaza and throughout Long Island City will bring exciting opportunities to the area, but it also highlights the importance of designating worthy buildings that will anchor this growth to the broader history of New York City. I hope you will stand with us by supporting designation.
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