JSC 1908 — In the Tallest!

Johnson Service Company installs system in world’s tallest building

May 1, 1908 (PD: 201205)

Singer Building 1908

The Singer Building towers over its neighbors in this 1908 photograph taken from a nearby New York Street corner

On May 1, 1908, the Singer Sewing Machine Company opened its new building on Broadway in New York City.  In the prior year, the New York branch of the Johnson Service Company (Johnson Controls’ former name) installed 128 thermostats and 160 valves at a cost of $5,390 in the soon-to-be-completed skyscraper.

From 1908 to 1909, the Singer Building was the tallest building in the world at 612 feet, which easily surpassed the previous holder of that distinction, the 511-foot-tall Philadelphia City Hall (which also included a Johnson Service Company temperature regulation system, not to mention a Johnson-made tower clock larger than London’s “Big Ben”).

The Beaux-Arts style, red brick building was designed by architect Ernest Flagg and was originally supposed to be only 35 stories, but the Singer Company soon decided to nearly double the height of the building.

The Singer Building lost its title as the world’s tallest building when the Metropolitan Life Insurance Tower (also located in New York City) surpassed it at 700 feet upon its completion in 1909.

Unfortunately, in 1968 the Singer Building also became the tallest building ever to be demolished, as it made way for the U. S. Steel Building (now known as 1 Liberty Plaza).

Today, Johnson Controls is still installing systems in the world’s tallest buildings.  The company supplied 24 chiller units to the cooling plant for the “Downtown Burj Dubai” development in the United Arab Emirates, which includes the current holder of the world’s tallest building title – the 2,722-foot-high Burj Khalifa (or Burj Dubai Tower).