New York Times on the move

The New York Times has left its iconic Manhattan offices to a new building somewhat akin to Canary Wharf.

For the first time for almost a century, America’s best-known newspaper will not be produced from the chateau-like offices just a stone’s throw from the crossroads in Manhattan known as Times Square.

The Times is moving to a new modern 52 story steel and glass office tower half a mile away which is the centerpiece of a new New York newspaper centre – somewhat akin to Canary Wharf.

There were, it’s said, quite a few teary eyes among old-time newsmen at The Times as the movers packed the boxes and moved the files and other paraphernalia to the new home.

The new offices are not a bit like the old – which veteran Timesmen affectionately called The Factory – and which until a few years ago rattled every night to the roar of the presses.

The new offices look like something designed for the space age – with lots of white plastic walled cubicles and halogen lights.

Gone, for the moment anyway, are the cluttered desks. Also long gone are the pneumatic tubes that whooshed copy from the newsroom to the linotype machines a floor below, and then down to the presses in the basement.

Old timers were recalling this weekend the time when a cry of ‘Copy!” brought eager young copy-boys hastening to reporters’ desks to rush their copy from their typewriters to the waiting newsdesk. Everything is now computerized.

Ironically the old Times building turned out to be worth much more than anyone thought. It was sold in May to an Israeli diamond billionaire, Lev Leviev, for $525 million. That’s three times what a real-estate developer paid The Times for the building when it was first put on the market three years ago.

A few weeks ago, there was an auction of old Times artifacts – including the white globe-like lamps with the paper’s name on them that were strung along the first floor of the building, similar to the lamps that once hung outside the Daily Mail on Tudor Street before it moved to Kensington. They fetched up to $4,000 apiece.

Just before the final move this weekend, some Old Timers scoured the building for relics of the paper’s past. What did they find? Lots of old notebooks, a few faded Broadway programmes, lots of out-of-date press passes, masses of yellowed clippings – and, oh yes, in some desks a few left-over half-consumed bottles of Bourbon or Scotch.

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