by Kevin Walsh

This month, I’m working at 1740 Broadway at West 56th Street, which is up the street from the famed Brill Building of pop music fame. However, 1740 Broadway, a 1950 skyscraper originally built for Mutual of New York, an life insurance company that is now a subsidiary of AXA International, a French insurance firm, has some pop history of its own.

When I was a kid, and I would pore through magazines like Sports Illustrated, I’d see print ads for MONY featuring illustrations by the great sports cartoonist Willard Mullin. This got me to thinking, could MONY possibly have anything to do with “Mony Mony,” the top 10 hit in the spring of 1968 by Tommy James and the Shondells?

Indeed it did. Tommy James and songwriting partner Richie Cordell were looking for some inspiration and had run a little dry when Tommy James spotted the blinking neon MONY sign from the top of 1740 Broadway: he could see it across town from his apartment house. The song, also co-written by Bobby “Montego Bay” Bloom, became a stone cold classic, and hit #1 19 years later in a live version by Billy Idol one week after teen pop star Tiffany had hit #1 with James/Cordell’s “I Think We’re Alone Now.”

As for 1740 Broadway, the MONY blinking neon sign, also famed for its use in Midnight Cowboy, was finally removed in 2007. The building also features the Weather Star, a 150-foot tall neon star that notated the expected weather by color: green for sun, orange for rain, etc. I’m not sure whether the star still lights up.

MONY left the building after its acquisition by AXA. Today the lower floors contain offices of Victoria’s Secret, the women’s “foundations” company. Other floors contained shared offices, where I am for a few weeks.

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”



CSF June 5, 2019 - 8:44 am

If I am not mistaken didn’t the mast of the weather star show ascending (up) and descending (down) lights on the mast to show when temperature was rising and falling in addition to the color coding?

CHRIS June 5, 2019 - 10:30 am

I work down the block & have only see the weather star lit in yellow if lit at all.

Peter June 5, 2019 - 2:21 pm

My reasoned guess is that the percentage of Victoria’s Secret customers who ever think of the products as “foundations” is somewhat below 0.001

Kevin Walsh June 5, 2019 - 9:36 pm

I’m being cheeky.

Peter June 5, 2019 - 10:10 pm

As cheeky as Victoria’s Secret panties?

Frank P June 5, 2019 - 2:33 pm

I grew up in Cliffside Park NJ, probably best known as home to Palisades Amusement Park (and Joe’s Elbow Room). Cliffside sits atop the Palisades, about a five minute walk from my house. My father pointed out how the MONY Weather Star worked and I always made a point to check it out.
Me and my friends used to party at an overlook by the GWB in Fort Lee and were there in July 1977 when the lights went out. The city went almost totally black and we could hear the car horns on the West Side Highway. Quite a sight. I even saw (maybe I imagined) the Milky Way over NY.

Andrew I. Porter June 6, 2019 - 9:26 am

Back in the late 1960s I worked at 1776 Broadway, and remember the weather indicators were visible from distant points north of the building, across Central Park and Central Park West. Then they built higher buildings north of it, and…

W.B. October 18, 2020 - 9:48 pm

When the building first opened in 1950, the time display was 12 light sockets across by 18 high for each numeral, spaced 5 inches apart for a height of 7 ft. 6 in. Around the late 1950’s or early ’60’s, the light bulb count was reduced by a quarter to what would be seen, for example, in the 1969 movie “Midnight Cowboy.” Pictures taken recently that show closeups of the display show the original 1950 grid behind the current LED grids for the time and temperature display.

W.B. July 10, 2021 - 10:14 am

P.S. The original set of bulbs for the clock was 569 bulbs for each side, or 2,276 total. Only the first and third lamp banks had a curving to make out the number ‘7’, given that this was a year or so before Luke and Chuck Williams of American Sign and Indicator first invented the display which rotated time and temperature every few seconds; I don’t know what they did in the interim, but it was the c.1960 overhaul which slashed the bulb count to 130 per side, or 520 total – which saw each side gain five new light sockets, one on each end of the center of the stick ‘1’ at far left, three for the ‘7’ in the second lamp bank.


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