Midtown Skyline, Looking Northeast from Broadway and West 31st Street, 1931

Midtown Skyline, Looking Northeast from Broadway and West 31st Street, 1931
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The race to the sky in New York City began with the construction of the Flatiron Building in 1902, which at 22 stories was one of the tallest buildings in the city, although it fell short of the world record which was then held by the Philadelphia City Hall. Philly was left in the dust in 1908, when it was surpassed by the Singer Building. Singer lost its crown to the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower in 1909, which in turn was toppled by the Woolworth Building in 1913, closing the first leg of the race.  The second leg began with renewed vigor in 1929 with the groundbreaking of 40 Wall Street, which was constructed in only 11 months and held the record for less than a month. From May 28, 1930, the Chrysler Building, pictured here in the right background, was the tallest building in the world, until the Empire State Building claimed the title on May 1, 1931. In this photo, taken in early 1931, the unfinished spire of the Empire State Building attests to the Chrysler Building's continuing but unavoidably ending reign.

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