Photo: Lars Plougmann/Flickr
At first glance, 33 Thomas Street appears as though it may be the headquarters for the Men in Black. It’s an impenetrable fortress, rising 550 feet into the New York City skyline with no windows and a flat, concrete slab façade.
Constructed in 1974 and designed by architect John Carl Warnecke, 33 Thomas Street was built to withstand the fallout from a nuclear blast for up to two weeks — making it one of the most impregnable structures in the United States. Each story is 18-feet high and can hold anywhere from 200 to 300 pounds per square foot.
From the building’s inception until 1999, it served as a gargantuan telephone switchboard for AT&T Long Lines, the company’s long distance service. In its prime, 33 Thomas Street used to direct around 175 million calls per day. But just prior to the turn of the millenium, AT&T vacated the building and moved its facilities to their current headquarters at 32 Avenue of the Americas. Yet, the company’s logo remains emblazoned on the door.
Theories on why it doesn’t have any windows
Today, the goings-on inside the skyscraper are shrouded in mystery. Google autocomplete and a handful of Reddit threads suggest a slew of conspiracy theories, perhaps because so little tangible information is known.
The most common belief is that 33 Thomas Street operates as a colocation centre, offering space for companies to securely house data and equipment. The building’s exterior makes it less susceptible to terrorism or weather related incidents — and without windows, the temperature inside the building is easy to maintain. Six large protrusions (functioning as air ducts) and a series of ventilation openings keeps the air circulating, preventing machinery from overheating.
This brutalist piece of architecture remains an enigma to many New Yorkers. But if Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are looking to make a fourth installment of Men in Black, 33 Thomas Street may be just the place.
Google Street View of 33 Thomas Street
Photo: Jo Poon/Flickr
Photo: Dave Keeshan/Flickr