Metropolitan Life Tower

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 as LeBrun’s inspiration was Venice’s world-famous campanile (bell tower) in Piazza San Marco. Ironically, this 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.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Union Square, Flatiron District & Gramercy attractions

1. Madison Square Park

0.07 MILES

This park defined the northern reaches of Manhattan until the island’s population exploded after the Civil War. These days it’s a much-welcome oasis from…

2. Flatiron Building

0.11 MILES

Designed by Daniel Burnham and built in 1902, the 20-story Flatiron Building has a narrow triangular footprint that resembles the prow of a massive ship…

3. Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace

0.19 MILES

This National Historic Site is a bit of a cheat, since the physical house where the 26th president was actually born was demolished in his own lifetime…

4. Lord & Taylor Building

0.19 MILES

On the southwestern corner of Broadway and E 20th St stands the old Lord & Taylor Building, former home of the famous Midtown department store (now a…

5. Museum of Sex

0.21 MILES

Get the lowdown on anything from online fetishes to stag films to homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck at this slick ode to all things hot and…

6. National Arts Club

0.23 MILES

Founded in 1898 to promote public interest in the arts, the National Arts Club holds art exhibitions, with free admission to the public during weekdays;…

7. Gramercy Park

0.24 MILES

Romantic Gramercy Park was created by Samuel Ruggles in 1831 after he drained the area’s swamp and laid out streets in an English style. You can’t enter…

8. Union Square Greenmarket

0.35 MILES

Don’t be surprised if you spot some of New York’s top chefs prodding the produce here: Union Square’s green market is arguably the city’s most famous…