666 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York, USA

This is the ultimate in vacant voyeurism, the pleasure of staring at people doing exactly what you're doing, only smaller.

- New York Times travel and entertainment editor William Grimes,
on the view of the rooftop dining area at the Peninsula Hotel from
"The Top of The Sixes" restaurant on the 39th floor of
the 666 Fifth Avenue Building

Heading westbound on New York City's 53rd Street, or southbound on Fifth Avenue, one could clearly see the enormous red numbers "666" displayed on top of The Tishman Building for the 45 years following its completion in 1957. In 2002, the "666" was taken down and replaced with the logo of the Citicorp bank, "Citi."

What sets this glass and steel "box" style office building apart from others is that for many years the ground floor was actually pedestrian- and visitor-friendly. This was far ahead of its time. Only in recent years have New York's zoning codes encouraged or mandated the use of open public spaces in building lots.

The building's facade of embossed aluminum panels is considered by some to be dull. In the context of the style of its day, however, the texture of the facade is typically contemporary, when compared to the stark minimalism of its peers, The Seagram Building at 375 Park Avenue, for example. Most modernists of the day eschewed the decoration that the Carson and Lundin architectural firm gave 666 Fifth.

Sculptor Isamu Noguchi designed the distinctive "Sea of Clouds" ceiling in the lobby's elevator bank areas, the dramatic black-and-white floors in the same area, and a waterfall planted with greenery in front of the elevator banks. Until a renovation filled the street level with retail space in 1998, the public could move about the open-air ground floor space in front of the lobby freely, in two wide spaces that pierced deep into the building. The lobby's interior contains objects from the Tishman-Speyer collection of modern art. The developers and owners of the building, Tishman-Speyer, own a vast collection of prime commercial real estate worldwide, including, in New York, The Chrysler Center and The former Pan Am building, now the Metlife Tower.

The building was for many years the home of the Stouffer Restaurant Corporation's flagship "Top of The Sixes" restaurant. The view from the restaurant's 39th-floor windows was spectacular, facing only north. Notable presences are the Trump Tower and the whimsical "Chippendale" decoration atop Philip Johnson's AT&T tower. Sadly, the venerable restaurant is now a private cigar-oriented club, the Grand Havana Room, which boasts private cigar lockers for members in one of the largest humidor rooms in the world, a bar, restaurant, and a screening room. The Grand Havana Room replaced the Stouffer restaurant in 1997. The view from the pricey (in 1997, $3,000 down and $300 a month, plus food and beverages) members-only establishment is extended to the east and south, where the spires of St. Patrick's Cathedral and the towers of Rockefeller Center can be seen. (Trivia: Tishman-Speyer also is owner of Rockefeller Center).

How peculiar that the enormous red-lit "666" existed for years amid buildings whose builders chose to call their 13th floors "14." And no, 666 Fifth Avenue (technically) has no 13th floor, either.


  • Horsley, Carter B. "The Tishman Building" http://www.thecityreview.com/fifth666.html
  • Tishman-Speyer Development Corporation. "666 Fifth Avenue" http://www.tishmanspeyer.com/properties/Property.aspx?id=41&section=BuildingSpecs
  • Grimes, William. "Drinking in the View" The New York Times 9 September 1990
  • http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?sec=travel&res=9C0CEEDE1E30F93AA3575AC0A966958260
  • The writer's familiarity with "The Top of The Sixes" restaurant.
  • Mott, Gordon. "Grand Havana Room" Cigar Aficionado September/October 1997 http://www.cigaraficionado.com/Cigar/CA_Archives/CA_Show_Article/0,2322,62,00.html