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33 Thomas Street: the mysterious 29-story windowless skyscraper in New York. What is it for?


33 Thomas Street: the mysterious 29-story windowless skyscraper in New York. What is it for?

In the heart of Lower Manhattan, an unusual 29-story, windowless skyscraper rises tall and mysterious. Its codename is Titanpointe and it is located at 33 Thomas Street. This building has baffled New Yorkers for years.1,
Built in 1974, the building was designed to withstand nuclear explosions and was originally intended to house vital telecommunications equipment. The architectural firm John Carl Warnecke & Associates designed it as a communications center protected against nuclear threats.

mage via Flickr / © Anton Repponen
This imposing structure, a gray concrete and granite tower rising 550 feet into the New York skyline, remains standing unlike any other building in its vicinity. In contrast to the neighboring residential and office buildings, it does not have a single window and remains unlit. At night it takes on a disturbing presence and during the day it casts a huge shadow; The square vents emit a quiet hum that is often drowned out by the busy sounds of the city.For decades, 33 Thomas Street, nicknamed the Long Lines Building, has captured the imagination of New Yorkers as one of the city’s strangest and most famous skyscrapers. But the true purpose of this enigmatic structure remained largely hidden and shrouded in mystery.

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The secret behind 33 Thomas Street
Behind its enigmatic exterior, 33 Thomas Street hides a deeper secret. This building appears to be more than just a telecommunications center. Evidence from documents obtained by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, as well as architectural plans and interviews with former AT&T employees, indicate that 33 Thomas Street served as an NSA surveillance site, codenamed Titanpointe.The NSA’s involvement goes beyond mere speculation. Inside the building is a large international gateway switch that routes telephone calls between the United States and countries around the world. The NSA is believed to have intercepted these calls from a secure facility in the AT&T building.This covert surveillance program has targeted not only international organizations such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, but also numerous countries, including allies of the United States.

Although AT&T has worked with the NSA on surveillance, few details have emerged about the specific role of facilities like 33 Thomas Street in conducting top-secret programs. However, the Snowden documents provide unprecedented information about how NSA devices were integrated into AT&T’s network in New York City.This integration reveals the methods and technologies the agency uses to collect communications data from the company’s systems.


The NSA’s presence in this iconic skyscraper raises questions about the limits of surveillance in the modern world. Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Freedom and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, notes, “This is further evidence that our communications providers have evolved.”whether voluntary or involuntary, an arm of the surveillance state.” The NSA’s deep integration into the national communications infrastructure challenges the notion that such surveillance can be clearly limited to targets outside the United States.

AT&T, Data Protection and Legal Oversight
AT&T’s close collaboration with the NSA is well documented. Although AT&T has a longstanding relationship with the government, it is unclear whether the NSA used AT&T’s space or equipment at 33 Thomas Street. This ambiguity raises questions about the extent of government surveillance within the building.2,
The New York Times and ProPublica reported in August 2015 that AT&T had worked with the NSA for decades and had been praised by the agency for its “extreme helpfulness.” However, neither Mr. Snowden’s materials nor the new reports say with certainty that the NSA used AT&T space or equipment. In fact, while AT&T Inc. owns the 33 Thomas property, it only owns about 87 percent of the space; The rest belongs to Verizon.The NSA’s involvement in the surveillance of the 33 Thomas Street building raises important legal and ethical questions. The building can be a monument to both the delicate balance between privacy and security in our interconnected world and the challenges of ensuring adequate oversight in an age of advanced technology and government surveillance.

In summary, 33 Thomas Street remains an iconic and enigmatic skyscraper in New York City, containing within its concrete walls both the history of telecommunications and the secrets of modern surveillance. The true extent of his involvement in government spying may remain hidden forever, but it remains a symbol of the delicate balance between privacy and security in our interconnected world.


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