Growing up on the Upper East Side, I vividly remember thinking in my very small years that the Pan Am building (now the MetLife building, of course) to the south on Park Avenue not only looked like the end of the avenue, but -- from certain vantage points -- like the end of the very world itself. It looked as if there was this implausibly high wall at the end of the avenue, similar to the one that kept Kong from wrecking havoc on Skull Island. To this day, if you stand in the middle of Park Avenue up around 92nd street and look down, it still does kinda resemble a massive wall.
It's not, of course.
When it was first erected in the very early 60s, the Pan Am building almost immediately garnered a sizable amount of detractors. I highlighted the article from New York magazine some years back, but according to a piece dubbed "The Buildings New Yorkers Love to Hate," the Pan Am building was #1. People loathed the thing.
I never hated it, but probably because I don't remember a time when it wasn't there. It was just always part of the cityscape. I often speculate if my kids wonder why I'm frequently shaking my fists at certain buildings (or buildings in construction -- notably on Astor Place). For them, NYC has always been this way. But even I remember when there were still swathes of airy, wide open space.
Speaking of wide open space, I found the picture below on the excellent Tumblr, Fuck Yeah Vintage-Retro, and it kinda blew me away. This is a shot from 1958, looking north on Park Avenue from approximately thirty-sixth street or so. Look at all that sky! All you see in the stately Helmsley building. No wonder people hated the Pan Am building.