Backstory

The tenants of the Brill Building were at the forefront of American music for nearly 40 years.

Face the Music

Nestled on the upper edge of Times Square sits an unassuming 11-story office building that changed the face of American music. At its peak in the 1960s, the Brill Building, located at 1619 Broadway and 49th Street, was the home to over 160 music publishers, songwriters, performers, vocal coaches, and agents, while the so-called “Brill Building sound” became synonymous with many of early rock and roll’s most memorable songs.

The building was named for the Brill Brothers—Samuel, Max, and Maurice—who leased the site in 1909 and opened a branch of their chain of men’s clothing stores the following year. On October 3, 1929—three weeks before the stock market crash—real estate developer Abraham Lefcourt announced plans to build the world’s tallest building on the site. But Lefcourt wisely submitted plans for a much lower structure, with a modest $1 million estimated cost, and construction was completed in November 1930. When Lefcourt later failed to meet the terms of their agreement, the Brills foreclosed on the property, removed his name from the nearly complete structure, and changed it to the more harmonious
Brill Building.

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