The above photo is interactive. Drag the yellow handle in the middle to reveal more or less of the before or after image.
Built in 1952, Lever House single-handedly changed how New York City approached skyscrapers. While it wasn't the first building to introduce the International Style to the city (the United Nations Headquarters is responsible for that), it was the most disruptive. Built at a time when, and in a neighborhood where, stone structures represented the brute strength of the organizations who inhabited them, Lever House brought a shiny, futuristic approach to the stuffy avenue. Today the building blends in amongst dozens of other glass curtain monoliths, but it's worth slowing down for, if even just to pay your respects to "the first".
A side note: Part of this Before & After project involves not only identifying where the photos were shot, but when. Many of the cataloged items in the Library of Congress are only partially dated, or provide a range of potential dates. The photo from today's post is listed as "1960-1980". The absence of the PanAm building clearly limits this photo to pre-1964 and the presence of Lever House safely places the earliest year at 1952. A 12-year span is not bad, and it's certainly more accurate than "1960-1980". Though, I still took issue with it being anytime after 1960. Primarily because if you look at the cars, they all appear to be from the early-to-mid 1950's. Now, it's certainly possible that cars from the 50's could be driving in a photo from the 60's, but you'd expect at least one of them to look more modern – especially in a pricey neighborhood like Park Avenue North. But nope, no space-aged, low-slung Chevys or Buicks to be seen. So identifying the cars is a bit of a dead-end. If I knew more about the surrounding buildings, I may be able to narrow-down the date even more, but since I doubt any of them were replaced pre-1960, that's probably a dead-end too. If anyone has some thoughts on when this photo would have been shot, leave a comment below.
Photo source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.