Rise of the New York Skyscraper: 1865-1913

Sarah Bradford Landau, Author, Carl Condit, Author, Carl W. Condit, Joint Author Yale University Press $80 (496p) ISBN 978-0-300-06444-5
""Before us is spread the most exciting, wonderful and instructive view to be had on our continent.... Certainly not elsewhere in all New York can such an unobstructed bird's-eye view be had."" The New York Sun was not referring to the World Trade Center but, in 1869, to the newly built eight-story Equitable Building, the tallest commercial building of its time. It is also one of the first skyscrapers covered in this scholarly work. The raw energy and burgeoning commerce of New York in the late 19th century, the tremendous egos and avaricious appetites of the CEOs and speculators that gave rise to these monuments, along with the political and public controversy surrounding them, give this book both meat and spice. Chronicling building construction from the pre-skyscraper days of the 1860s, through the extraordinary growth period of the 1890s, it culminates with the Woolworth building and, coming full circle, with the ""new"" Equitable building, completed in 1915. The most fascinating details concern the unprecedented feats of engineering. The invention of the elevator, the complex foundations needed for such heavy structures, the evolution of fireproofing, the development of iron and steel structures (which lightened masonry loads and radically diminished the wall dimensions needed to support such great heights), combined with the architect's and entrepreneur's vision to make skyscrapers possible. Extensively illustrated with 206 photographs, this is a delight to read. Despite it's size it would have also been useful for walking tours, had it included a quick reference to remaining sites. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
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Paperback - 496 pages - 978-0-300-07739-1
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