The sixteen-story Steinway Hall was constructed in 1924-25 to the design of architects Warren & Wetmore for Steinway & Sons, a piano manufacturing firm that has been a dominant force in its industry since the 1860s. Founded in 1853 in New York by Heinrich E. Steinweg, Sr., the firm grew to worldwide renown and prestige through technical innovations, efficient production, business acumen, and shrewd promotion using artists’ endorsements. From 1864 to 1925, Steinway’s offices/showroom, and famous Steinway Hall (1866), were located near Union Square.
After Carnegie Hall opened in 1891, West 57th Street gradually became one of the nation’s leading cultural and classical music centers and the piano companies relocated uptown. It was not until 1923, however, that Steinway acquired a 57th Street site.
Designed in a restrained neoclassical style, Steinway Hall is L-shaped in plan, with a front portion clad in Indiana limestone that terminates in a set back, four-story colonnaded tower, and a central campanile-like tower with a steep pyramidal roof and large lantern. The main facade s base is embellished by a music-themed sculptural group by Leo Lentelli and by a frieze with medallion portraits of distinguished classical composer-pianists.
The style, materials, setbacks and massing, picturesque towers, and decorative elements add distinction to the building and make it a monumental architectural presence along the West 57^ Street cultural corridor. Warren & Wetmore was best known for its designs for hotels and railroad-related buildings, most notably Grand Central Terminal. Steinway, the city’s only remaining piano maker, has continuously utilized the building’s lower four stories, as well as the famed “basement for artists’ concert grand pianos.
The upper twelve stories also have an illustrious history, rented to many organizations associated with music and the arts, such as the Oratorio and Philharmonic Societies of New York; Columbia Art