Press Release

For Immediate Release: May 14, 2024

Contact: lpcpressoffice@lpc.nyc.gov, 212-669-7938

LPC Designates the Heckscher Building (Now the Crown Building) as an Individual Landmark

French Renaissance-Style Building Is One of Fifth Avenue's Best Known and Most Visible Early Skyscrapers

Skyscraper Was Among First Built to Meet New City Zoning Regulations Requiring Tall Buildings to Taper to Provide Light and Air at Street Level, Improving Public Health and Quality of Life for New Yorkers

Top of skyscraper with gilded features

New York – Today, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted unanimously to designate the Heckscher Building (now the Crown Building), located at 730 Fifth Avenue as an individual landmark.

Prominently located at the southwest corner of 57th Street, the Heckscher Building (now the Crown Building) is one of Fifth Avenue's best known and most visible early skyscrapers – a symbol of midtown's transformation into a fashionable commercial district in the early 20th century, and a reflection of a new era of city zoning and planning that shaped New York City's distinctive skyline for years to come.

Designed in the French Renaissance style by Warren & Wetmore, the architect of other well-known New York City landmarks including the New York Yacht Club, Grand Central Terminal, and the New York Central Building, the Heckscher Building was built in 1920-22. It is one of the earliest surviving skyscrapers to conform to the 1916 Zoning Resolution—the nation's first— requiring tall buildings to taper as they rose to allow light and air to reach the street in order to improve the health and quality of life of New York City residents.    

"The Heckscher Building represents a critical moment in New York City history when architecture rose to meet the moment, innovating to improve quality of life and creating iconic structures that shaped our skyline, and has undergone a recent rehabilitation that supports New York City's economic strength," said Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Sarah Carroll. "By designating the Heckscher Building (now the Crown Building), we are honoring the important role that design and public policy can play in our modern urban environments, and ensuring this incredible early skyscraper is preserved for generations to come."

"The Heckscher Building (now the Crown Building) rightfully deserves the landmark status it receives as one of New York City's oldest, most visible, and unique buildings," said New York City Councilmember Keith Powers. "This landmark status will engrave the building's legacy into New York City history and preserve it for future generations."

Compared to subsequent skyscrapers constructed in the 1920s, the Heckscher Building featured an unusually complex setback design: 25 stories tall, with setbacks at the 13th and 24th stories, and a mounted tower that steps up differently from each direction, creating four distinct facades.   

The Heckscher Building is also notable for its ornate design features, including a steep pyramid roof and a striking octagonal tower that originally featured gilded elements and a ten-foot-tall weathervane that was removed in the 1940s, and embellishments meant to evoke ornamentation found in French palaces during the reign of Francois I.

Marketed in early real estate advertisements as "The Tower of Trade," the Heckscher Building contained ground floor shops, retail showrooms, and tower offices, attracting high-profile tenants like publisher Alfred A. Knopf and Universal Pictures. In 1929, the newly established Museum of Modern Art held its inaugural exhibition there devoted to Cezanne, Gauguin, Seurat, and Van Gogh, and followed up with its famously influential Modern Architecture: International Exhibition, curated by Philip Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock, which introduced the International Style to the United States.    

In 1983 the Heckscher Building was renamed the Crown Building, at which time most of the architectural elements were painted gold and the façade illuminated at night. In 2022, the upper stories of the building were converted to a hotel and residences, while the lower floors house major retail tenants.

Images: Photographs of the Heckscher Building (now the Crown Building) are available online

About the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC)

The Landmarks Preservation Commission is the mayoral agency responsible for protecting and preserving New York City's architecturally, historically, and culturally significant buildings and sites. Since its creation in 1965, LPC has granted landmark status to more than more than 37,900 buildings and sites, including 1,461 individual landmarks, 121 interior landmarks, 12 scenic landmarks, and 156 historic districts and extensions in all five boroughs. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/landmarks and connect with us at www.facebook.com/NYCLandmarks and www.twitter.com/nyclandmarks.