The Civic Center Neighbourhood of New York City is home to a strange skyscraper. The granite-clad, concrete building stands tall at 550 feet at 33 Thomas Street. New York City has its fair share of skyscrapers and not all tall buildings are worth the curiosity but this skyscraper is unique. What makes it so unique is its fortress-like appearance and apart from a couple of ventilation openings on the sides, the building’s bare concrete slab facade does not have a single window.
The building is known as the Long Lines Building and is owned by the multinational telecom company AT&T. The building looks like a fortress because it was built as one. Constructed in 1974, the architect John Carl Warnecke was asked to design it such that it could withstand a nuclear blast and protect the occupants from the fallout for as long as two weeks.
These concerns were common at that time and the telecom giants wanted their expensive equipment to stay safe in case of an all-out attack. The building was built to house AT&T’s solid-state switches among other equipment for the long-distance telephone lines. This is what gave rise to the name Long Lines building.
These switches took up a lot of space and required a secure environment. This is why the floors of the building are taller than the average size. The floors were specially designed to bear an extremely large amount of weight. Each floor is 18 feet high and even though the building is the size of a 40 story tower, it only has 29 floors.
The building continued to serve as a long-distance telephone exchange for AT&T until 1999. The company vacated the building afterwards and moved to another building only a few blocks away. The Long Lines Building is still serving its purpose and is used for telephone switching by some local exchange carriers. Some of the office space is also used as a high-security data centre.
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