At 38 stories, the CBS building in New York isn't anywhere near the tallest. Its location at 52nd St and 6th Avenue isn't special. Even its design and construction were not - as buildings go - controversial. But, for what it offers both inside and out, CBS is a destination of choice for visitors of New York.
The Eero Saarinen designed edifice is at the apogee of the International Style. Saarinen, a Finnish born architect of world-renown, also designed the elegant Washington DC airport terminal. The CBS building is his only skyscraper.
The building's dark gray exterior is formed by straight-to-the-sky concrete pillars clad in Canadian black granite alternating with darkened glass. It appears almost as a modern version of a medieval castle, with an inviting plaza substituted for a drawbridge.
Completed in 1965, the building still houses the CBS corporate headquarters where decisions affecting billions are made and the structure is as serious as its purpose. Yet its stark beauty is undeniable.
It was the first skyscraper to use a reinforced concrete support frame rather than steel. Departing aesthetically as well as technologically it deviates boldly from the strict International Style. It is not just another flat glass and metal box. It has panache.
CBS in New York has a lighter side, though. Down the block at 524 West 57th St are the headquarters of CBS News and the main broadcast facility for both radio and TV. Here the outrageous and the serious share office and broadcasting space.
Inside the building the glitzy gossip show 'Inside Edition' is taped. Just around the corner, CBS News intones its views to the world. Popular soap operas weep daily from the studios here.
CBS owns two other major studio centers in Manhattan: Studio 58 inside the General Motors building at 58th St and Fifth Avenue, and the Ed Sullivan Theater (Studio 50) at 1697 Broadway.
The Early Show is taped daily at the Studio 58 facility and David Letterman airs nightly from Studio 50. Outside the Ed Sullivan theater the David Letterman Show sign is prominent.
Whether world-class architecture is to your taste, or you just want to sit in on one of the tapings for The Early Show or David Letterman, CBS has something to offer every tourist.
Tours and tickets are available for those who plan in advance. But, if your visit is spur-of-the-moment, you might still be able to pick up tickets at the Times Square discount booth TKTS.
Selling tickets primarily for Broadway shows, the booth sometimes has spare tickets for TV shows. Also ticket scalpers tend to hang around the area, so keep your ears open and you just might be able to get something on the sly.
And, if you just want to enjoy a stellar meal at the base of one of the world's finest examples of architecture, the restaurant inside the CBS building plaza is first rate.
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