Between 23rd and 26th Streets, and 5th and Madison Avenues, is Madison Square. Once a marsh, potter’s field, and parade ground, the square became fashionable in the mid-1800s. In those days, expensive hotels stood along its west side, the old Madison Square Garden stood to the north, and the Statue of Liberty’s torch-bearing right arm stood in the center of the square, awaiting funding for the monument’s base. Today all those buildings—and the arm—are gone, but other graceful structures have taken their place.
On the park’s east side between 23rd and 25th Streets is the 1932 Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, an enormous art deco building made of limestone that seems to change color with the day.
On the north corner of 25th Street is the 1900 Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court, covered with an impossible number of marble sculptures.
Taking up the whole block between 26th and 27th Streets is the New York Life Insurance Company, an 1898 wedding-cake extravaganza designed by Cass Gilbert.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition