The Daily Mail has an excellent writeup on two old buildings in Manhattan — 60 Hudson Street and 32 Avenue of the Americas — that were built between 1928 and 1932 to bring telecommunications to New York City.
The buildings are an impressive, well-updated holdout from a time when long-distance calls needed to be connected manually by a human plugging and unplugging a wire. They have been continually updated and refined as central communication technology centres such that if you check your email in New York City, your data is almost certainly being routed through these buildings.
First built by Western Union and AT&T to facilitate telegraphy and telephone services, the buildings remain an integral part of how information moves through New York City, delivering digital data to some 8.3 million New Yorkers. They are locked down and protected accordingly, making use of biometric locks to make sure that the only people that get inside are actually supposed to be there.
Data center Telx calls 60 Hudson Street “home,” and the company has since expanded to 32 Avenue of the Americas as of last year. The company’s Blake Mitchell told The Daily Mail the two buildings “remain the central switchboards of our telecom culture; home to 400 carriers serving 600+ data networks — among the most richly connected buildings in the world.”
The company commissioned an 8-minute documentary surrounding the history and architecture of these two surprisingly important buildings, which you can watch in its entirety below. It’s filled with great tidbits on the history of communication as it pertains to the largest city in the United States. (Back in the day, phone operators used to have dormitories in the buildings!)