skyscraper

Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan Skyline at Dusk, 1956

Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan Skyline at Dusk, 1956

Sun sets over New York City, and the city begins to glow with its own light. The spires of the Lower Manhattan skyscrapers, including the Cities Services Building and the Woolworth Building, can be seen beyond the Brooklyn Tower of the Brooklyn Bridge. The skyline of today would not be extremely different. Most notable, perhaps, is the absence of lights coming from the South Street Seaport, which in 1956 was not a tourist destination, but a working fish market.

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Flatiron Building, 1907

Flatiron Building, 1907
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East River Skyline, c. 1955

East River Skyline, c. 1955

The Manhattan Skyline viewed from Roosevelt Island in 1955 looks strikingly familiar to a contemporary viewer. The art deco spires of the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building spear the sky, and the cigarette-box-shaped United Nations waits impassively for the better world its construction was supposed to help usher in. But the majestic giants of the second half of the Twentieth Century are conspicuously absent. The Citigroup Center, the Bear Stearns Building, the MetLife Building, and many others have yet to replace their smaller, forgotten predecessors.

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Erecting a Skyscraper, 1906

Erecting a Skyscraper, 1906

Ironworkers take a lunch break high above Lower Manhattan atop a partially constructed skyscraper. These brave men seem never to have even heard the word harness. Many of the ironworkers who built the skyscrapers of New York City were Native Americans, predominantly of the Mohawk tribe.

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Lower Manhattan Skyline through Brooklyn Bridge Cables, 1923

Lower Manhattan Skyline through Brooklyn Bridge Cables, 1923

This view of the Lower Manhattan Skyline from the walkway of the Brooklyn Bridge is enhanced by the geometrics of the steel support cables and lattice.  The cables themselves were, in part, made from inferior wire that a subcontractor snuck into the project.  Rather than remove them, Chief Engineer Roebling let them stay, reasoning that the bridge would now be only four times stronger than it needed to be rather than six.

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60 Wall Street, c. 1950

60 Wall Street, c. 1950
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Ironworker Rides the Chains, 1912

Ironworker Rides the Chains, 1912

An ironworker, erecting a skyscraper, rides the chains, 800 feet above Broadway, 1912.

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Chrysler Building at Dusk, 1950

Chrysler Building at Dusk, 1950

View southeast toward the Chrysler Building on East 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue.  A flourescent lancet crown tops this Manhattan landmark, which opened in 1931.  Designed by architect William Van Alen, this Art Deco masterpiece was the tallest building in the world for eleven months, before being surpassed by the Empire State Building.  In this photo, its majesty is unrivaled.

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Chrysler and Lincoln Buildings, 1930

Chrysler and Lincoln Buildings, 1930

View northwest toward the Chrysler and Lincoln Buildings both completed in 1930.  While the Chrysler Building towers over the Lincoln and is the pinnacle of Art Deco style, the Lincoln Building is not without its own merits.  Built in the neo-gothic style, the Lincoln Building sports gothic windows at the top and a bronze model of Abraham Lincoln by Daniel Chester French in it's lobby.  The statue was removed in 2009 when the building was renamed to One Grand Central Plaza.

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Empire State Building, 1932

Portrait of the Empire State Building, 1932

View northeast toward the newly completed Empire State Building, with the Chrysler building in the background, 1932.  Built in 410 days, the Empire State Building surpassed the Chrysler Building as the World's Tallest Building, a title the Chrysler only held for 11 months.  The Empire State Building held that title for over forty years.  In this photo it clearly dwarfs everything else in the midtown skyline.

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