In 1919 Chicago Tribune co-publishers Joseph Medill Patterson and Robert R. McCormick couldn't agree over the content of the newspaper, so they decided Patterson should start a different newspaper in New York. Inspired by the popularity of a London tabloid, The Daily News emphasized photography, celebrity news, and a focus on city politics. New York commuters loved the paper because it was easy to hold and read on a subway.
John Mead Howells and Raymond Hood, the architects of the Chicago Tribune building, were tapped to build the new building for The Daily News. Patterson initially wanted a large enough facility to hold the paper's staff and printing facility, but Hood talked him into the lucrative proposition of building an office tower on top. It hadn't occurred to Patterson that he could make money from rent-paying businesses.
In designing the tower Hood had to deal with a new city zoning law, one that prohibited the construction of large massive buildings that blocked light from the streets. The setback requirements of new building construction encouraged the tiered design of all the new New York skyscrapers of the 1920s and 1930s. It's this wedding cake formula that characterizes the older New York skyline. The soaring Daily News building, one that mild-mannered reporters could leap at a single bound, was completed in 1930, roughly the same time as the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building.
The overall design of the building was guided by the windows. The architects decided that the average office worker needed to easily open a window, so the windows should be small enough to handle. Moreover, the worker most likely to open a window would be a female secretary (or Lois Lane). The architects figured that an average woman could manage opening a window four feet and six inches wide. In addition, after one of Hood's associates designed the red and black pattern for the brick spandrels, Hood decided that all the window shades needed to be red.
The Tribune Company owned The Daily News (website) until 1991. Mort Zuckerman bought the paper in 1993, and in 1995 the paper relocated to 450 W. 33rd Street.
Image: The Daily News Building. 220 E. 42nd Street. photo by WOTBA. February 2008. See related posts with images of the famous lobby. Still to come on the Raymond Hood walk - the McGraw-Hill building, Radio City and Rockefeller Center. Wow - some serious walking ahead of me. I hope I'll have strength left to open a window.
See this breaking story on the Daily News plan for color on all pages (New York Times, Feb. 14, 2008).
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