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Kansas City

New York Life Building

The New York Life Building is a high-rise building in Kansas City, Missouri. The ten-story brick and brownstone tower, which was completed in 1890, is generally regarded as Kansas City`s first skyscraper and was the first building in the city equipped with elevators. It was commissioned by the New York Life Insurance Company, which earlier built an identical building in Omaha. Several buildings around the world share its name.

The building was designed in 1885 by Frederick Elmer Hill (1857–1929), of the New York City architecture firm of McKim, Mead & White. Hill, who graduated from MIT in 1882, came to Kansas City in 1885 to oversee the construction of his design, but ended up staying in the city until 1901, and designing some important buildings. From 1893 until 1895, he was involved in the design and construction of the Nave of Grace Church, located at 13th Street and Broadway Boulevard, only a few blocks from this building. Hill designed both of the Convention Halls Kansas City built between 1899 and 1900, and Westport City Hall. Hill was responsible for the design of Oak Hall, the elegant private residence of Kansas City newspaper publisher, William Rockhill Nelson (1841–1915).

The New York Life Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970, but was abandoned in 1988. In 1996, a $35 million restoration of the building added state-of-the-art energy, communications, and environmental features.