The Real Deal New York

Once a data hub, always a data hub

Inside two Downtown skyscrapers that continue to operate as they were intended

June 28, 2014 09:00AM

32 Sixth Avenue

32 Sixth Avenue

WEEKENDEDITION As technology has changed over the last century, so have the uses of those buildings designed to house now obsolete innovations. But two early-twentieth century skyscrapers in Lower Manhattan have, despite the odds, managed to continue serving in the spirit they were intended to.

The former Western Union Building, at 60 Hudson Street, and the AT&T Long Distance Building, at 32 Sixth Avenue, were built in 1928 and 1932, respectively, and designed by architect Ralph Walker — who also designed the Barclay-Vesey Telephone Building, now known as the Verizon Building. Back then, they were intended as hubs for operating telegram and telephones services. Today, they still serve as data centers for Telx, an internet services company, according to Gizmodo.

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“A hundred million telegrams will pass through this building,” the signage outside Western Union’s building boasted when it was under construction. But as technology changed, the building themselves morphed to accommodate updated infrastructure.

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For instance, the extensive network of pneumatic tubes in the Western Union building have been adapted for holding the bundles of fiberoptic cables. For more, check out the new film on the buildings: “Urban Giants,” written by Andrew Blum, the author of “Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet” and directed by Davina Pardo.

[Gizmodo] Christopher Cameron

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