New York Film Locations

The Real Daily Planet

15 June 2023

For fans of the 1970s and 80s Superman films starring Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder, the Daily News Building on East 42nd Street is often seen as the home to the headquarters of the Daily Planet , the newspaper of Clark Kent.

The Daily News Building on East 42nd Street in New York City

Built in 1929, this huge 42-storey Art Deco building served as a strategic centre for the Daily News until 1994 and is located in the Turtle Bay neighbourhood of Midtown Manhattan in New York City. The original building was designed by architects Raymond Hood and John Mead Howells in the Art Deco style, and was erected between 1928 and 1930. A later addition was designed by Harrison & Abramovitz and built between 1957 and 1960.

The globe inside the lobby

The Daily News Building consists of a 36-story tower that is 476 feet tall, as well as two shorter additions extending east to Second Avenue. Its architectural features include a large granite entrance at 42nd Street and an expansive lobby inside. The original structure is an L-shaped building that faces 41st Street to the south, Second Avenue to the east, and 42nd Street to the north, with a longer frontage on 41st Street than on 42nd Street. The annex, along 42nd Street and Second Avenue, gives the present building a rectangular lot.

The Daily News Building was commissioned by Joseph Medill Patterson, the founder of the New York Daily News. The design incorporates a layered massing that contains several setbacks at higher floors. It was Hood's first modern freestanding tower and one of the first large Art Deco buildings in New York City. The Daily News Building was occupied by the Daily News until 1995, after which it was converted to office use. Upon its completion, the Daily News Building received mixed reviews, and many observers described the building as having a utilitarian design. The Daily News Building was made a National Historic Landmark in 1978. It was designated a New York City Landmark in 1981 and its interior was similarly designated in 1998.

Display cases in the lobby

The lobby of the building includes a circular rotunda with a black glass-domed ceiling near the 42nd Street entrance. Under this ceiling in a stepped pit is a rotating globe that was for many years the world’s largest, conceived by the Daily News as a permanent educational science exhibit. The globe is 12 feet in diameter, with over 3,000 individual features, and was designed by Daniel Putnam Brinley. Inside the pit is a set of popular science inscriptions. There is also a large compass on the floor, as well as bronze floor etchings within the terrazzo floor, with the names of major cities and their distances from New York City. The walls have nineteen panels designed by J. Henry Weber, which depict maps, weather charts, and clocks from different time zones. The Daily News Building’s main elevator lobbies are to the south of the rotunda and contain bronze plaques memorializing Daily News employees who fought in major wars.

The rotunda was inspired by the Glass Pavilion by Bruno Taut, and the recessed center specifically was inspired by the tomb of Napoleon at Les Invalides. Accounts differ on who had the most influence on the lobby's design. According to Daily News historians, Patterson was the first to propose the idea of the lobby. Hood's biographer conversely implied that the idea had not come from Patterson, who had supposedly been skeptical of the design with a globe.

As originally configured, the rotunda was approached from the 42nd Street entrance to the north, as well as from a hallway on the southwest. The hallway led to two banks of elevators to the south, as well as a restaurant, and there were two storefronts flanking the rotunda, one each to the west and east. The elevator lobbies had bronze grilles and other decorations designed by Rene Paul Chambellan in the Art Deco style. There were eighteen glass exhibits, which were part of a scientific and educational display designed by James H. Scarr, a U.S. Weather Bureau meteorologist. The main lobby was so popular among tourists that Hood subsequently opened up a side entrance for Daily News employees. During the expansion, the storefronts on either side of the rotunda were removed and incorporated into the main lobby. The glass showcases of the original lobby were replaced with the wall panels. The city names were changed to reflect new distances and spellings, and a hallway was extended to the entrance on Second Avenue.

On the set of Superman in 1977

For anyone visiting the building, look to the left as you enter and the display cases mounted on the wall, of which include photographs of the actors during the filming of “Superman”.


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