Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Pan Am Building

The Pan Am Building
(please ignore the "Met Life" sign on the picture: everyone knows its really the Pan Am Building.)

I am listening to the Bower Boys lately. They do podcasts about New York history. They recite history, nostalgic anecdotes and opinions (heavy,  in a campy style) about events,  neighborhoods, gangs and also they often pick a famous building. 

I am enjoying these because I was born in Long Island, (Rockville Centre, note the 're' at the end please) and my father worked in the city. 

Yes, he worked in the Pan Am building, for Westinghouse. Westinghouse Electric (I believe) which is not the refrigerator division, but the Energy Generation engineering specialists. 

I like to say that my dad built nuclear generators in Japan and India. This was back in the early sixties, mind you.

But I digress.  The Pan Am building has a great history and the Bowery Boys do a great job of describing it. 

But I just remember going to NY city for the company Christmas party.  (I do not recall if it was once, twice or five times. I just remember it. ) I remember the long escalators. I remember Grand Central. I remember the odd, multi key calculator (probably a slide ruler mechanism; my dad had a bunch of slide rulers).  But I also remember that it had low ceilings. Pretty amazing for a 7 or 8 year old, which I suppose was my age when I visited. 

Its interesting that even though I moved to Seattle in 75, and then returned to NYC for 2 and a half years to work on Wall Street, that I don't remember experiencing any nostalgia for the Pan Am building. (But that is probably very uninteresting for any reader that has landed on the blog of a guy whose dad worked in NY. )

My point is that I do remember visiting; I remember watching the TV show "That Girl" where she has some visit to the helicopter pad which runs in the beginning credits (I think); I remember that it blocks Park Avenue; and I remember that it is above Grand Central. 

I guess that's it. But its important that I associate it with my Dad, his commute to the city, and its a symbol of the 1960s, white shirt, thin black tie, workforce, and my childhood. 



PetiteDov said...

That was beautiful Dan, I'll look for it tomorrow when I'm walking around NYC. I love childhood memories, they seem to be so vivid compared to most others.

Fantron said...

Thanks for the memories. The rooftop heliport was a location in the Clint Eastwood movie "Coogan's Bluff," which was filmed there in the fall of 1967. The NY Airways chopper lands Eastwood on the rooftop near the opening, and then at the end of the film he departs from there for JFK Airport as well.

We are planning an adventure thriller film "Dead Soft" in which we also shall be using the roof of the Met Life Bldg (although there is no longer an active heliport there now).