Architects Rapp & Rapp
In 1926, Paramount Pictures, one of the major American motion picture companies, built its headquarters along with a cinematic theatre right in Times Square. At the time of its completion, it was the tallest building in Times Square and its illuminated glass globe could be seen as far as New Jersey.
Recognizable to all, the Paramount Pictures logo features a mountaintop surrounded by 22 stars. Apparently, each star symbolized a real flesh and blood actor put under contract by film producer Adolph Zukor to work for Paramount Pictures. This idea is recalled in the design of the clocks, where the stars are symbolically surrounding the ”mountain-like” Paramount building.
In May of 1926, the cornerstone was laid by Mayor Jimmy Walker. He placed three copper boxes containing the front pages of New York’s morning newspapers, three five-dollar gold coins, two Paramount feature films, and newsreels of Admiral Byrd’s polar expedition. Thomas Edison sent a letter of congratulations.
Paramount used its New York Theater to premier many of its films. From the 1930s to the 1950s Paramount introduced such movie stars as Gary Cooper, Mae West, Fred Astaire, and Bing Crosby. But the Great Depression took its toll, making the venue barely profitable. In an effort to boost attendance, the Paramount’s managers added live music performances.
Big bands became a staple of the Paramount, featuring on its stage orchestras of Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, and Glenn Miller. Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, and Frank Sinatra would later grace the Paramount stage.
Sadly, the Paramount closed its doors in 1964. As the space was converted to offices, all traces of the lavish movie palace were obliterated. The mammoth organ was moved to a Wichita, Kansas convention center. The familiar marquee that once held the over-sized cut-out of Elvis Presley and had announced the movies of Gary Cooper and Rudolph Valentino was removed and destroyed, and the chandeliers were sold.
In 2000, a large section of the Broadway office building was leased by the World Wrestling Federation, which recreated the famous arch and marquee with the Paramount logo restored and developed the space into WWF New York, a themed club and restaurant.
The Paramount Building restoration included the reconstruction of the four clocks and the illuminated globe at the top of the building. The Globe was painted black during WWII to hide it from possible enemy attack and remained that way until 2000 when it was re-lit again for the first time in over 50 years.
The WWE operation closed in 2003, and the location then became home to the Hard Rock Cafe.
The 33-story Paramount Building is an iconic presence in the Broadway Theatre District. Every day at 1:45 pm and 7:45 pm the giant clock atop the building chimes, alerting Broadway theater-goers that they have 15 minutes before the curtain call.