fot. Kidfly182, wikimedia commons, CC 3.0

The windowless skyscraper in New York. An inconvenient US secret

The windowless skyscraper is one of New York’s most mysterious buildings. Its unusual design has been astonishing since its construction and has led to various theories about the interior and purpose of the 33 Thomas Street skyscraper. For years, almost nothing has been known about it, even though it is located in the most crowded part of Manhattan.

The building, also known as the AT&T Long Lines Building, was designed in 1969.Architect John Carl Warnecke prepared the design of the brutalist skyscraper on behalf of the telecommunications company AT&T. At the time, the company was the world leader in telecommunications services. Hence the need for a new headquarters that could accommodate all the apparatus. The architect opted for functional brutalism.

The façade was made of concrete slabs overlaid with slabs of Swedish granite. The monumental walls of the building are immediately striking. The windowless skyscraper measures 170 m high and has 50 floors. In practice, only 29 floors are in use. The only openings in the building are those responsible for ventilation.

The building has no windows because it does not need them. Sunlight could heat the units unnecessarily. The lack of windows creates a kind of fortress that protects the interior from nature and people. The skyscraper’s sturdy and heavy architecture was designed so that the building could withstand an atomic bomb blast and serve as a shelter. Inside, it can accommodate up to 1,500 people, and internal power generators and stored supplies allow it to survive for up to two weeks.


Most of the space inside is taken up by machinery. The building was the main exchange for international calls in the United States. According to the NYC Urbanism blog, the switchboard handled more than 175 million calls a day in 1994.

However, for many residents, such explanations of the building’s purpose were not enough. From the moment it was built in 1974, the building was regarded by New Yorkers as a headquarters for government eavesdropping. In 1979, a satirical film was made entitled: ‘Winter Kills’, in which the building at 33 Thomas Street was depicted as the world headquarters of the eavesdropping apparatus.

Later years saw the release of further films, series and a game depicting the building as a secret and mysterious government building. Nominated for Game of the Year 2019, the production of , Control from Finnish studio Remedy Entertainment took inspiration from the building and created an action location similar to 33 Thomas Street. In the game, the headquarters is home to paranormal phenomena, which alludes to numerous theories about the activities of this nature in the AT&T Long Lines Building.

photo s o d a p o p,, CC 2.0


Some theories about the building may be true. A journalistic investigation by The Intercept magazine revealed that the building’s apparatus was used by US intelligence. The National Security Agency’s internal agency was said to be intercepting and eavesdropping on calls. The editors of The Intercept cited classified information made public by Edward Snowden in 2013. The documents mention a building from which the wiretapping was conducted. According to the editors, the building appearing in the documents under the name ,,TITANPOINTE” is actually the AT&T Long Lines Building. The documents suggest that representatives of 38 countries and various US organisations were wiretapped from the building.

Since 2016, when The Intercept article was published, the US government has not issued a concrete correction on the case. The same silence has been shown by AT&T. In October this year, the Daily Mail published an interview with a former employee of the building. However, the British newspaper did not provide much information. The former employee only indicated that there were rooms in the building that could not be entered.

AT&T had moved most of its apparatus to a neighbouring building in 1999. Advances in technology have meant that the space needed for the equipment to function has shrunk. Today, there is a remnant of telecommunications and database equipment in the building.

33 Thomas Street, AT&T Long Lines Building or perhaps TITANPOINTE? Whatever its name, the windowless skyscraper remains to this day one of New York’s most mysterious and peculiar buildings.

Source: NYC Urbanism

Also read: Curiosities | Skyscraper | New York | United States | History | Brutalism | whiteMAD on Instagram

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