The building at 33 Thomas Street looms over Lower Manhattan like a fortress from a Tolkien text, rivalled only in that context by its relatively new neighbor to the west, the so-called “Jenga Tower” that is 56 Leonard Street.
But unlike that architecturally ornate structure of glass and steel, 33 Thomas offers no glinting reflections of the sun, no envy-inducing terraces, no fleeting glimpses of luxury, … and no windows. It stands like an oblong, impenetrable sentinel of indeterminate purpose. It would not look out of place in the opening sequence of “Blade Runner.” Its design is an unwaveringly firm assertion of function, not form. It does not seek your fanciful approval. It suggests something more stern, possibly even sinister.
I walk by 33 Thomas Street pretty much every day and never fail to glace up at it and wonder what transpires beneath its sprawling, brown façade. I assumed it had something to do with telephones, and pretty much left it at that, but since I’ve been regularly walking through TriBeCa every weekday for the past year, it has played with my imagination. What does go on in there? And why do I never see anyone enter .... or leave?
I think I first took notice of it via its placement in the video for “Green Light” by Firewater. In the clip, Tod [A] is seen walking atop the imposing stone perimeter of 33 Thomas, looking down at the camera while ducking and weaving around the structure’s retro-futurist lamp posts. Tod was living in TriBeCa at the time (over on Vestry Street), so 33 Thomas Street’s distinctive edifice was probably a no-brainer for a location.
I’d long considered writing a post about my curiosity about 33 Thomas Street, until a former colleague from TIME Magazine today posted a deeply intriguing (and hugely long) article from The Intercept that is ALL ABOUT the clandestine doings of 33 Thomas Street –- which also goes by the ominous code-name TITANPOINTE, and it’s JUST AS MYSTERIOUS AS I’D EXPECTED!
Reed all about it here. Meanwhile, here’s the afore-cited clip for “Green Light.” Look for 33 Thomas Street therein….