Metropolitan Life Tower

Historic Building in Union Square, Flatiron District & Gramercy

Completed in 1909, this 700ft-high clock tower soaring above Madison Square Park’s southeastern corner is the work of Napoleon LeBrun, a Philadelphia-born architect of French stock. Italophiles may feel a certain déjà vu gazing at the tower. After all, LeBrun’s inspiration was Venice’s world-famous campanile (bell tower) in Piazza San Marco. Ironically, LeBrun’s New World version is now older than its muse: the original Venetian tower collapsed in 1902, with its replacement not completed until 1912.

Despite being upstaged by taller Manhattan skyscrapers these days, the 41-level building remains one of the largest four-dial timepieces in the world, each of its four clock faces measuring a big-is-better 26.5ft in diameter.