The Daily News Building on Manhattan’s East 42nd Street is one of the city’s most historic Art Deco structures.
Designed by John Mead Howells and Raymond Hood (the celebrated architect of other 20th century gems such as Rockefeller Centre, the McGraw-Hill, and the Chicago Tribune buildings) it was built between 1929 and 1930. It was the home of America’s first tabloid newspaper, the illustrious Daily News, until 1995. The outside of the building is exceptional enough on its own; a giant mural carved above the entrance in the Art Deco style depicts working Manhattanites under an illuminated sky and the motif “He Made So Many of Them.” But on walking into the building, visitors can find one of the city’s most spectacular architectural sights: a vintage globe that nearly dwarfs onlookers.
Set into the floor at the exact axis of the miniature Earth and slowly revolving under a black glass sky, the giant globe was featured as part of the fictional Daily Planet in Richard Donner’s Superman films. The lobby still shows photographs of Christopher Reeve as Clark Kent and Margot Kidder as Lois Lane at work in the hectic newspaper offices.
Accompanying the massive model are brass meteorological instruments giving the day’s rainfall, wind velocity, and atmospheric pressure, whilst ornate clocks give the time in far-flung destinations such as Panama, Casablanca, Belgrade, and Berlin. Inscribed on the floor surrounding the globe are the distances to such exotic locales as Cairo, Gibraltar, and the North Pole, suggesting to visitors not already bowled over by the remarkable lobby that New York was indeed the center of the world.
At the time of its opening, the Daily News held the largest circulation of any newspaper in America. Its smaller size made it popular with subway commuters, and the emphasis on photography (a camera has been included in the paper’s logo since the first edition) gave the Daily News the moniker, “The Eyes, the Ears, the Honest Voice of New York.” The building was situated in the largely unfashionable 3rd Avenue end of 42nd Street so the noisy printing presses could be held in the same building as the editorial staff without disturbing upper-scale city dwellers.
The Daily News may have moved on, but the journalists of WPIX-TV and the Associated Press still make their way to work following in the footsteps of Lois Lane and Clark Kent, as the giant globe silently turns on its axis, as it has done every day since 1930.