Audio Guide

The MetLife Building

Narrated by Carol Willis, Founder & Director for the Skyscraper Museum


Rising high above elegant Madison Square, just a block from the Flatiron Building, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in 1909 erected a skyscraper headquarters that proclaimed its status as the country’s largest insurer. At 700 feet, the tower took the title of world’s tallest building. The slender shaft copied the historical form at the Campanile, or the Bell Tower, of San Marco in Venice with a pyramidal roof topped by a lantern that at night blinked the hours and quarter hours accompanied by chimes. Four enormous clocks spanning four floors on each face of the tower also made time visible across the city.