New York 9

This photo is from this site even though I’m sure I have some of my own somewhere.

As I was preparing our holiday card list, I was checking the address of a former collegue and ran across an ad for the building in NYC with the big red 9 out front. For many reasons, this is a famous building. Built in 1974, its dynamic sloping design was radical at the time, partly because it revealed the sides of the buildings next to it. Some claim that the 9 was designed to distract passersby from those side views.

This building is now in a high-traffic shopping and tourist area, so many people come to this block of West 57th Street and take their picture with the 9. This three-ton, steel sculpture has also been featured in Sex and the City, so that makes it a must-see for the shoe-shoppers in the area.

All this fame aside, it is important to me for a totally different reason. This is the building that my dad worked in when I was growing up in NYC. The 9 was my play area. I also used hurdle large circular planters that were out front in the late 70s.

It’s been a very long time, but I seem to remember that his office was on the 42nd floor. That’s a long way up and the views were pretty fantastic.

But my most vivid memory of this famous building is the time we got stuck in the elevator. My dad had to run by his office one evening and I went with him. We walked to the bank of elevators that went to the 40-50th floors. For those of you not familiar with skyscraper elevators, there are separate elevators that go to groups of floors. It’s like an express to certain floors. Anyway, the two of us stepped on the elevator, pushed the 42 button and the doors closed.

The elevator rose a little ways and stopped. We used the emergency phone in the elevator to call for help. It turns out the elevator had been turned off and the doors never should have opened for us.

After quite some time, the maintenance workers turned the elevator on and had it go up to the 44th floor. The thing about express elevators is that they don’t even have doors to the floors that they pass by. It apparently was easier to raise it to the higher floors, especially since my dad still needed to go to his office.

Since this elevator wasn’t really working, the doors couldn’t open. Instead of coming out the regular doors, we had to climb out the emergency side door (across the elevator shaft) into the elevator next door. We rode this 2nd elevator down to the correct floor and got off. I was pretty shaked from this whole episode.

In this short version of this story I have left out how scared I was during this whole ordeal. I really don’t remember how we passed the time, but I know the carpet was red. And I did learn about elevators and their safety systems as a result of this.

Jeffrey L Cohen

Jeffrey L Cohen