by Kevin Walsh

NOW dwarfed by the 765-foot tall, 67-story, concave-fronted Sven luxury tower, the 15-story Bank of Manhattan building in Queens Plaza was once the king of Queens Plaza and indeed once the king of all Queens skyscrapers for decades before the North Shore Towers in Glen Oaks, the Citicorp (now One Court Square) and recently, a thicket of western Queens towers surpassed it.

It appears to be something “The Fountainhead”‘s Howard Roark himself may have conceived of. That year, American architecture was shedding Beaux Arts and adopting the more streamlined techniques of the Machine Age. That didn’t stop the Bank’s architects from adding all kinds of Easter eggs way up high, like the 4-sided clock, the water bearer (Oceanus, a mascot of the Bank of Manhattan), fish and shell.

Who was Oceanus? Didn’t Poseidon run the oceans in Greek mythology, Neptune in Roman? He preceded Poseidon, as he was a Titan, a member of a group of super-beings who were in charge of creation before the Olympian gods came to prominence.

Long Island Star- Journal, October 1925: “The Bank of Manhattan’s new building for Queens Plaza will set the pace for the Long Island City skyline. The building will tower far over the present buildings. The projection is that Bridge Plaza will be the new Times Square of Queens. The 14 story building is to be graced with a four faced clock. The Plaza is expected to become the business and financial center of Queens. Transit facilities give it access to the South Shore as well as the North Shore.”

The B of M lorded it in Queens Plaza until the 2010s, when rapid development in the area found several very tall buildings constructed which now completely subsume its old prominence. Read the Landmarks Preservation Commission report for much more.

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therealguyfaux June 5, 2022 - 10:15 pm

In theory, at any rate, Jay Gatsby, driving in from the North Shore along Northern Boulevard to the 59th Street Bridge would have watched the building being erected.

Eric Costello June 6, 2022 - 7:15 am

Considering the water-utility origins of the Bank of the Manhattan Company, I can see why they chose this theme and mascot.

Ron S June 6, 2022 - 12:37 pm

Queens Plaza was home to 3 or 4 banks, one of which had a beautiful marble lobby. All would have been dwarfed by today’s ugly development. Never thought I would be bemoaning the loss of the old LIC.

chris June 7, 2022 - 10:43 am

Id be surprised if the clocks still worked.They usually just turn them off to save on electricity
or dont bother to fix them if they break nowadays

Patrick Sweeney June 17, 2022 - 8:03 pm

I’m a VP at the sucessor to the Bank of Manhattan, JP Morgan Chase. The corporate history does not have the BM logo and in other places where one might find old bank logos, it’s not there. It is apparently unique.


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