Latting Tower

NYPL

The Latting Tower, built 1852-53, stood on the block between 42nd and 43rd Street with an entrance on 42nd St. This hand-colored lithograph by the tower's architect William Naugle shows the tower around 1853. At 350 feet, the tower was the tallest structure in America at the time. Steam elevators carried observers to several platforms in the tower, the highest one being 300 feet from the ground and 10 feet higher than the spire of Trinity church, previously the tallest building in New York. In its form and conception as an iconic tourist attraction, the Latting Tower anticipated the Eiffel Tower by some thirty-five years. The tower afforded a view of the newly constructed Crystal Palace and the Croton Reservoir which had been completed in 1842. Telescopes and maps on each landing let customers look out over the city in a way never before possible. Bird's eye views of New York had been available before, but these were either artificially constructed or drawn from hot air balloons. For the first time, anyone with the price of admission could see the city. The venture was not a commercial success. The tower was sold to pay debts and was finally destroyed by fire in 1856, just three years after it was built. The Latting Tower offered New Yorkers a chance to see New York in an unprecedented way.