On Friday I was walking by the Tishman building and overheard a guy brandishing what I thought was a pistol-shaped photographic spotmeter, telling another guy – “hey, get a load of this”. Naturally I stopped to take a look. The instrument turned out to be not a spotmeter, but a Raytek Raynger ST , a noncontact thermometer used by air conditioning professionals to check temperatures at different points in buildings. The guy pointed it at the sidewalk, cars and skyscrapers, reading a normal range of temperatures. But when he pointed it at the sky, the Raynger showed a temperature of approximately -30. It’s very cold up there, isn’t it?
For a long time the nighttime skyline of midtown Manhattan had a small but very unsettling detail. There, amongst gleaming lights of skyscrapers, it floated. A red neon “666”. Were the Satanists so bold as to purchase a giant advertising like that? Were they that wealthy? There is a company called 999 Pharmaceutical and for a while I thought that it was actually 999 somehow reflected from a mirrored surface. I haven’t seen the red neon 666 lately and kind of stopped wondering.
Yesterday, while researching Isamu Noguchi, I noticed that he designed the lobby at 666 5th Avenue. On a whim I decided to find the picture of the building – and lo and behold – the mysterious 666 turned out to be the building number made into a decorative neon sign atop that particular skyscraper.
Known then as the Tishman Building it served as headquarters for the company that built amongst other buildings World Trade Center and John Hancock Center. They will be building the Freedom Tower as well.
In 2002 either because of 9/11 or because Tishman sold the building (although the corporation still has offices there) or maybe because they finally understood that having a giant neon 666 on a building that is right next to St. Thomas Church is not kosher, “666” was replaced with a more powerful symbol of evil – the Citicorp umbrella :
(earlier I wrote about a different evil Citi neon umbrella logo )
The top floor of the building used to house an awesome restaurant called “Top Of The Sixes”. These days it houses an exclusive cigar lounge called The Grand Havana Room. Check it out: floor to ceiling windows with views to die for, overstuffed (I’ve never heard about an understaffed one) chairs, cigar vaults with personal, shared and corporate humidors and other niceties.
Unfortunately, from what I learned on Usenet, membership is 3K per year. I guess they follow the gym pricing structure (in fact a gym membership in NYC can easily cost that much).
I also remembered that Lebedev Studio(or whatever it’s called these days) has a forwarding mailbox at 666 5th. There must be a mailbox store in the building, but I did not notice one when I was there today.