The Clock Tower
The iconic Long Island City Clock Tower, which has towered over Queens Plaza since 1927, is one of the most significant architectural landmarks in Queens. Known historically as the Bank of Manhattan Building (29–27 Queens Plaza North), the Clock Tower was designed by architect Morrell Smith and was the tallest building in the borough until the Citigroup building (1 Court Square) was erected in 1990. The building's 14 stories—three of which comprise the tower and house its monumental 14' four-faced illuminated clock—are faced with buff-colored pressed brick and Indiana limestone trim and boast neo-Gothic historical references that culminate in the crests and gargoyles decorating the battlements.
The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission is currently evaluating the Clock Tower to determine its eligibility for designation, and it has already passed preliminary review. With recent sales of the building, however, we need an immediate and strong show of community support to ensure that it is preserved.
What is the current state of the Clock Tower?
The Clock Tower's exterior materials show some signs of aging, but it retains a very high percentage of its original exterior structure and materials. However, the ground-level front facade has been modified since the building's construction and now features a largely glass-and-steel entry. Until the summer of 2014, its four-faced clock continued to be illuminated every night.
In May 2014, the Criterion Group purchased the property for $15 million. In November, it sold the Clock Tower building to Property Markets Group, who also owns two adjacent lots, for $31 million.
What would landmark designation mean for the future of the Clock Tower?
If the Clock Tower is granted designation as an individual landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, any proposed changes to the exterior of the building would be subject to the approval of the Commission. Generally, commissioners advocate for the preservation of as much of the original structure as possible, the maintenance of significant features, or the replacement of aging structure and ornament with equivalent materials. Applications that entail major changes to the building are brought to a public hearing, allowing the community to involved in the process of approval.
The Request for Evaluation does not include the interior of the the building.
Who else supports landmark designation for the Clock Tower?
We've received over 1,500 signatures on our petition so far. We've also received letters or pledges of support from the following local community groups, institutions, and leaders: Historic Districts Council, Queens Community Board 1, NYC Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, Dutch Kills Civic Association, Hunters Point Civic Association, Queens Historical Society, Save America's Clocks, and SculptureCenter.
April 4, 2015 — NEW
The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission scheduled a public hearing for the Clock Tower, to be held on Tuesday, April 21, 2015 at 9:30 AM at 1 Centre Street, 9th Floor, New York, NY. Read the official notice
March 24, 2015
The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously to calendar the Clock Tower. The building will receive protection under the Landmarks Preservation Law until its candidacy for landmark designation is formally heard at a public hearing. Download the press release
November 21, 2014
Clock Tower tenants were issued notices of lease termination, effective May 31, 2015. The stated reason for the lease terminations was the “Landlord's intention to demolish all or a part of the building.”
August 8, 2014
In a letter addressed to +Partners, the Landmarks Preservation Commission reported: “In its initial review, [a senior staff committee] noted that the property may merit designation. The agency will therefore further assess the property in context of the Commission's overall priorities for the city.”
+Partners submitted a Request for Evaluation to the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Local activist Christian Emanuel also submitted a request around the same time.
March 30, 2015
“Queens Clock Tower, Once the Tallest, Helps a 77-Story Skyscraper Rise Next Door” The New York Times
March 30, 2015
“This Gigantic Fancy Apartment Tower Is Coming To Queens” Gothamist
March 24, 2015
“Long Island City's Clock Tower Is Now a Landmark Hopeful” Curbed NY
February 19, 2015
“Fate of LIC clock tower remains hazy” Queens Chronicle
December 4, 2014
“Demolition May Loom for LIC Clock Tower” Queens Tribune
December 2, 2014
“Long Island City Clock Tower Building Sold as Locals Look to Landmark It” DNAinfo
December 1, 2014
“The 1920s building, which has been the focus of a landmarking campaign, is known to locals as the Clock Tower. It sold for $30.9 million, more than twice the price sellers paid for it six months ago.” The Wall Street Journal
November 24, 2014
“PMG pays $31M for Long Island City clock tower” The Real Deal
October 30, 2014
“Preservation Watch” Curbed NY
October 30, 2014
“LIC Pair Pushes to Landmark Clock Tower” Queens Tribune
October 28, 2014
“Let's Landmark the LIC Clock Tower!” Brownstoner Queens
October 28, 2014
“Calls for Clock Tower to be landmarked, advocates seek community board support” LICPost
October 27, 2014
“Locals Look to Landmark Clock Tower Building in Queens Plaza” DNAinfo
May 12, 2014
“Residential Developer Buys LIC Clock Tower for $15 Million” Curbed NY
Sign the petition
Once the Landmarks Preservation Commission has scheduled a public hearing to discuss preservation of the Clock Tower, we will present them with a petition listing the names of neighbors and friends who support landmark designation.
Send a letter of support
We're asking community groups, civic leaders, concerned citizens, and local businesses to send letters of support to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, stating their support of landmark designation for the Clock Tower. The text of a sample letter is included to the right. Letters of support should be directed to the Chair of the Commission and sent to following address:
Hon. Meenakshi Srinivasan
Landmarks Preservation Commission
One Centre Street
New York, NY 10007
Please also send a digital copy of your letter of support to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sample letter of support