skyscraper

Portrait of the Chrysler Building, 1930

Portrait of the Chrysler Building, 1930

At the time this black and white photograph was taken in 1930, the Chrysler Building was brand new and had the distinction of being the tallest building in the world. It took that crown from 40 Wall Street, which held if for only a few weeks, and yielded it less than a year later to the Empire State Building.

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Aerial Overview of the Woolworth Building, circa 1930

Aerial Overview of the Woolworth Building, circa 1930

The Woolworth Building was the tallest in the world from 1913 to 1930, around the time of this photo, when it was surpassed by 40 Wall Street. This photo makes its size apparent, as it towers over the surrounding neighborhood.  Also in the photo are City Hall and the Municipal Building.

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Aerial View of Lower Manhattan, c. 1930

Aerial View of Lower Manhattan, c. 1930

In this eastern-looking aerial photograph of Lower Manhattan and Tribeca, taken around 1930, one gets a view of many of the most notable structures of the day, including the Woolworth Building, the Municipal Building, City Hall and the Post Office, as well as the Federal Courthouse, and the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. Aside from the Woolworth and Municipal Buildings nothing in view could be called a skyscraper. It's is a very different Lower Manhattan Skyline than today's.

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Empire State Building Under Construction, Late 1930

Empire State Building Under Construction, Late 1930

The Empire State Building may no longer be the tallest building in the world, but it is easily one of the most recognizable. It holds a place in pop culture that few man-made structures ever attain, most probably thanks to a giant fictional gorilla. In this black and white photograph, King Kong's exploits are still a couple of years off. The building is incomplete, its dirigible dock is still under construction.

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Metropolitan Life Tower Under Construction, 1909

Metropolitan Life Tower Under Construction, 1909

In this black and white photograph from 1909, we see a group of men and ladies with parasols standing in Madison Square Park, observing the construction of the Metropolitan Life Tower. The main building had been constructed over a decade and half before.  The architectural firm of Napoleon LeBrun & Sons modeled the tower after the Campanile in Venice, Italy. It was the world's tallest building for three years, until 1913, when it was surpassed by the Woolworth Building.

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Photographing New York City, 1905

Photographing New York City, 1905

In this black and white photograph taken in 1905, a man with a camera perches on a steel girder at East 19th Street and Fifth Avenue. The viewer looks north, towards the Flatiron Building, while photographer shoots west. Lord & Taylor can be seen between the girder and the photographer's dangling leg. Lord & Taylor, which is the oldest upscale retail department store in the United States, moved to the Ladies' Mile location you see here in 1870, more than three decades before the construction of the Flatiron Building three blocks north.

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The Flatiron Building after a Snow Storm, 1906

The Flatiron Building after a Snow Storm, 1906

In this view south from East 26th Street and Fifth Avenue, the Flatiron Building looks like it is plowing through the snow. It looks like a substantial amount of fresh snow has blanketed the city, all of which has been shoveled by hand. The streets are as clear as they are likely to get until the hooves of the horses tramp it into slush. But luckily for us, some anonymous photographer captured the clean beauty of this moment forever.

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Erecting a Skyscraper, 1907

Erecting a Skyscraper, 1907

Three iron workers take a break from constructing the Singer Building on a girder high above Liberty Street. The Singer Building was the headquarters of the Singer Sewing Machine Company and, from its completion in 1908 until the completion of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower in 1909, was the tallest building in the world. Thanks to fearless men like this that was a record that was continually broken during the early part of the Twentieth Century.  The Singer Building was demolished in 1968 and is now the site of 1 Liberty Plaza.

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Aerial Overview of the Empire State Building, 1964

Aerial Overview of the Empire State Building, 1964

The Empire State Building is no less impressive when seen from above than from below. In this aerial photograph, taken in 1964, we can see the Art Deco masterpiece in all its glory. It dominates the midtown skyline, stabbing upward into the sky, defiantly daring someone to build a taller building. It would be nearly a decade before anyone would.

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