In February 1964, Christo and Jeanne-Claude arrived in New York on board of the SS France. Shortly after seeing the tall buildings of downtown Manhattan from the bow of the ship, Christo did the first collages of Two Lower Manhattan Wrapped Buildings, No. 2 Broadway and No. 20 Exchange Place. Later, when Christo and Jeanne-Claude met with the owners to request permission to realize the project, the answers were negative.

In early 1968, friend and art collector John Powers introduced Christo and Jeanne-Claude to the chairman of the board of Allied Chemical Corporation, hoping to get permission to wrap the Allied Chemical Tower, No. 1 Times Square in Manhattan, the former headquarters of The New York Times. After a few weeks of negotiations, the board refused to allow the artists to wrap the building.