That’s the machine room for the very old elevator in an even older building. The building is an 1880s rowhouse on the Upper West Side converted to commercial use; the elevator was, I think, installed around 1910. Note “Up” and (faded) “Down” over the two things (switches, I think) at the top of the panel.
In Young Frankenstein, when Frederick Frankenstein first finds his grandfather’s lab, he’s stumbling around in the dark, looking for the lights. His assistant, Igor, says “Two nasty lookin’ switches over there, but I’m not going to be the first.”