However, a recent revelation by Eric Guidry, known as @e.guidry on TikTok, has shed light on the true purpose of these windowless giants, and it’s not as sensational as many might imagine. These buildings are integral components of AT&T’s long lines network.
Guidry explains in his TikTok clip, “So that building in New York, this windowless building in San Francisco, this one in Chicago, this one in Austin, and hundreds more buildings placed conspicuously across the country, in very populous locations.” He goes on to reveal that these structures were constructed as part of the infrastructure for AT&T’s telecommunications network, particularly during an era when digital telephony had not yet supplanted traditional analog systems.
“Before we had digital telephony, the lines on your phones physically connected to the person on the other end’s phone. That meant we need these massive switching hubs,” Guidry explains. “Most of those buildings I showed were built in the ’70s [or earlier]. That means they didn’t require actual operators.” The absence of windows was purely pragmatic because the machinery inside these facilities did not depend on natural light.
Eric Guidry offers further insight into the specific AT&T building featured in the original TikTok video, 33 Thomas Street in New York. He reveals, “That building is 33 Thomas Street, which is known to be one of the most secure towers in the world.” He adds that this skyscraper is equipped with ample gas, water, and electricity to function independently for up to two weeks. It is even designed to withstand a nuclear blast, albeit within reasonable limits.
While most of the equipment in these buildings has since been digitized, rendering them no longer necessary for traditional phone services, they still play a critical role in supporting network and internet infrastructure. In fact, if you’re watching Guidry’s TikTok video in the US, it probably passed through one of these buildings.
Nonetheless, it’s worth noting that several conspiracy theorists have put forth alternative explanations for these buildings’ secretive nature. Some believe that they functioned as surveillance sites for the National Security Agency (NSA). In 2016, a non-profit organization called The Intercept claimed that there was “compelling evidence,” including leaked documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, suggesting that one such building, code-named TITANPOINTE, was used for surveillance purposes. According to their investigation, a former AT&T engineer disclosed that there was “a major gateway switch” in the building that “routes all calls between the US and other countries around the world.”
While some theories about these buildings border on the bizarre, such as claims of vampire lairs or secret “lizard headquarters,” the reality seems to be a blend of mundane telecommunications infrastructure and the enduring allure of mystery.
This is the scariest building I've ever seen! WTF goes on inside?? Hanx. pic.twitter.com/nXeUI64rXm
— Tom Hanks (@tomhanks) June 2, 2017