The New York Life Insurance Building, New York, located at 51 Madison Avenue, Manhattan, New York City, across from Madison Square Park, is the headquarters of the New York Life Insurance Company.
Designed in 1926 by Cass Gilbert, who also designed the landmark Woolworth Building, the massive building rises forty stories to its pyramidal gilded roof while occupying the full block between 26th Street, 27th Street, Madison Avenue and Park Avenue South, a rarity in Manhattan. The New York Life Building stands 615 feet tall and contains 40 floors. Inspired by Salisbury Cathedral,it was the last significant Gilbert skyscraper in Manhattan.
From 1837–1889, the site was occupied by the Union Depot of the New York and Harlem and the New York and New Haven Railroads, a concert garden, and P.T. Barnums Hippodrome. Until 1925, the site housed the first two Madison Square Gardens, the second one designed by architect Stanford White.
The building was completed in 1928 after two years of construction at the cost of $21 million. It combines streamlined Gothic details and distinctly Moderne massing. The gold pyramid at the top consists of 25,000 gold-leaf tiles. The building was designated an official New York City landmark by the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission in 2000, and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as a National Historic Landmark, designated in 1972. In 1995, after the pyramid was restored with new tiles and lit, the building received a Merit Citation Award from the New York Landmarks Conservancy.