Blog Archive

What’s Your Favorite Building?


Perhaps the most iconic thing about New York City (other than the…ahem, “abrupt” nature of the locals) is its skyline.

This skyline, deeply imprinted on the modern American lexicon, plastered on postcards and t-shirts, and even tattooed on some arms and legs around here, is not simply one wall of metal and brick, but a mosaic of millions of buildings, in all five boroughs, each one with its own fascinating story. Even if you don’t live in New York City, there’s a good chance you’ve got a favorite piece of the puzzle of the skyline. So we’re asking – what’s your favorite building in all of New York City?

Is it from a movie, like the Staten Island house where parts of The Godfather were filmed?

Is it famous like the Chrysler Building, with its sneaky spire story?

Or is it reminiscent of New York’s patchwork of neighborhoods, like a row of brownstones in Brooklyn?

We want to hear from you! Post a photo of your favorite building in NYC to our Facebook wall with the hashtag #tenementmuseum and explain to us why you love this building so much. We’ll be taking submissions until October 7th, and announce the winner on our blog and on Facebook on the 8th. The entries will be shown at the What’s Your Favorite Building Tenement Talk, and the winner will receive a surprise gift bag from the Tenement Museum Bookstore!!

So get to posting, people! And to get you thinking, here are some of our staff picks for favorite building!

Lib Tietjen – Media and Marketing Coordinator

My pick is the Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

This huge factory is located right on the East River and under the Williamsburg Bridge – I look at the behemoth every morning and evening on the train to and from work. The Domino Factory used to be the sweetest place in America – producing more than half of American made sugar – and its owner, Harry Havemeyer, was known as the Sugar Pope (can I request to be called the Blog Pope?).

Inside the Domino factory in 2013. The factory will soon be part of a new residential and commercial project in Williamsburg.

I love being reminded of New York’s industrial past; this used to be a city that really made things, whether they were sugar cubes or battleships. But I also love to think about the things that haven’t changed; I often imagine men walking to work with sandwiches wrapped in paper, chatting with their friends, and looking across to a Manhattan that looks vastly different than today – not even the bridge was built when the factory opened! #tenementmuseum




Mike Stallmeyer – IT and Digital Media Associate

My favorite building in New York City is the Brill Building on 49th and Broadway.

The Brill Building - the 1930's and today

The Brill Building was the epicenter for the music industry in the 1940’s-60’s. Songwriters and producers took residence in the building, churning out thousands of pop hits. By the early 1960’s the “Brill Building sound” was in high demand, with songwriters like Carol King, Phil Spector, and Neil Diamond writing such songs such as “Yakety Yak,” “River Deep Mountain High,” and “The Loco-Motion.”

Elvis Presley and writers Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber looking over the music to "Jailhouse Rock" in the Brill Building

I love how the building reminds me of a time when pop songwriting was seen as a valuable commodity; when not only was the physical production of records a huge part of pop culture but the actual process of writing a song was treated with enough reverence to warrant an entire building in midtown Manhattan.  Today the building is sadly only partially occupied with music industry businesses but the impact of the Brill Building is still felt today. After all, how many buildings can claim to have created an entire musical genre? #tenementmuseum




Okay folks, let’s see your favorite buildings!!

– Posted by Lib “Blog Pope” Tietjen (with help from Mike Stallmeyer)