Landmark Status for a Skyscraper in Lower Manhattan

The 952-foot Art Deco skyscraper formally known as the Cities Service Building at 70 Pine Street in downtown Manhattan has had many claims to fame over the years.

It was the world’s third tallest building when it was completed in 1932, right behind the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings. With its tiered glass lantern and stainless steel spire, it is an icon of the Lower Manhattan skyline. In recent decades, it has been home to Merrill Lynch and the insurer A.I.G.

But the building was not a city landmark, which the Landmarks Preservation Commission remedied on Tuesday when it designated both the exterior — clad in white brick, gray Indiana limestone and speckled rose and black granite — and the first-floor lobby of the building, an orgy of marble with a light-wave-patterned ceiling that the commission’s chairman, Robert B. Tierney, called “one of the most stunning office building lobbies in New York City.”

The building was originally constructed for the Cities Service Company, an energy holding company that later became Citgo. It is now owned by a developer, Sahn Eagle LLC, and is mostly vacant. A member of the landmarks commission, Margery H. Perlmutter called the designation “long overdue.”

The designation was held up for years because of strenuous opposition by the building’s previous owner, A.I.G., which bought it in 1976, said Elisabeth de Bourbon, a spokeswoman for the commission.

“We had to work through that history of opposition with the new owners to make a case for preservation, and we did,” Ms. de Bourbon said.

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