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Thread: History New York 20th century

  1. #46

    Default Manhattan 1920s

    Hello friendly! We are of return in this trip through the evolution of New York City Skyline in 20th Century through its skyscrapers. We continue our trip through the 1920s, that was the decade of the consolidation of the city like the Skyscraper's Capital of the World. The 20th Century's Capital.
    Note: I offer an excuse to you, because in the last days I not give to you time so that you respond to me for my articles for I post pictures and write more articles about it daily. The reason is that already the vacations was gone to me in a few days, once returning to the college, and longer I am going to have no more time to raise images and to write more articles about the city them with the same frequency I am doing that it now. Altought, the last week I bought a pro account for my Flickr's account that permite raise more pictures in a infinit mode.


    Our trip of the day start on 1924.

    In 1924 already the first effects of the 1916's Zonning Lay can be seen on Manhattan's Skyline. While, There is the 90 West Street Building, that was build in 1907 by Cass Gilbert. In March, 1924 its facade was cleaning.

    High rises opposite Central Park: The Fifth Avenue's Millionaries Row.

    The Fifth Avenue's Millonaries Row, in May 1924. Since the late 19th Century, this part of the Fifth Avenue, between 60th to 96th Streets, in front of the Central Park, concentrate the great majority of the luxurious mansions of to build by the most greatest american architects for the greatest capitalist men who handled and controlled the destinies of millions of men and women in worldwide. The Rockefeller, Astor, Vanderbilt, Morgan's families lives here. But in 1924, the majority of the great tycoons were changed their home residence to Riverside Drive and many of the old large houses were demolished to be sustituted for high-rise appartments buildings for no more less wealthy people. This picture was taken from the Plaza Hotel.

    Another view from Herschkel Building. In this picture can see the original 1890's Netherland and Savoy hotels, at far right.


    In May, 1924 this is the look of Fifth Avenue. In the center of the picture can see the 25-story Herschkel Building (The Crown. 1921). One of the Midtown office skyscrapers with setbacks, according with the ordenances of 1916's Zoning Law.

    The Flatiron Building on june 1924. New skyscrapers rises behind it.

    The Architects Building, on 101 Park Avenue in june 1924. This building were built in 1913 and unfortunately was demolished in 1979 to make way to 50 story glass-box posmodern 101 Park Avenue Building.

    The Beaux-Arts stylePershing Square Building (Sloan & Robertson, Architects. 1923) with 23 stories. June 1924.

    Another of Midtown's first big skyscrapers. The Shelton Hotel, on Lexington Avenue between East 48th to 49th Street. Arthur Loomis Harmon.

    Paul Goldberger (1981) says about the Shelton:

    "(...) this was one of the first large towers to be completed under the provisions of the 1916 zoning law, and it became a textbook examole, as sure as Hugh Ferris's renderings, of what the tower of the future would be like" (Goldberger. The Skyscraper. 1981. Page. 61).

    The Shelton Hotel. June 1924

    Aerial view of Midtown Manhattan looking north above Washington Square. Photo: Fairchild Aerial Surveys.

    Aerial view of Lower Manhattan. August 1924. It is visible the first effects of the 1916's Zoning Law on the new skyscrapers. Another wedding-cake building under construction, the 30-story Standard Oil Building can see at center.

    1924 Special: The American Radiator Building.

    The new 24-story ecletic American Radiator Building, on 40th street front the Bryant Park, near the Sixth Avenue.Raymond Hood. Architects. The New York Public Library's zone was filled with buildings of offices, like the 18-story Aeolian Building (in this time crowned with a radio broadcasting tower), the Stores Stern Bros, the Bush Building, and the others.

    Paul Goldberger (1981) says:

    "The Radiator Building was a small tower, only 21 stories high, but in it Raymond Hood proved, even more than he had with his partner Howells on their Tribune design, that he could assimilate all of various influences affecting skyscraper design and produce from then something both coherent and new. The Radiator Building merges Saarinen's Tribune Tower massing with Hood's own Gothic leanings; it is in a sense, the first -a second- prize winners of the Tribune competition joined in a single building. Ii is black -Hood's device to make the building seem like a single sculpture mass -and unbroken by windows, wich often appear as black holes in lighter buildings. The top is decorated in gold, giving the tower a kind of glowing elegance that prefigurated the jazziest skyscrapers of the 1930's. The profile suggests a much larger building; it was Hood's gift that he could created so successful an illusion in massing. he also knew that it was to be placed opposite Briant Park, where the tower could be seen from a distance" (Goldberger, Paul. The Skyscraper. New York. Alfred A. Knopf. 1981. Page. 61).

    Robert A. M. Stern says about the Radiator and Raymond Hood:

    Inspired by the iconic clarity of Corbett's Bush Building, the telescoping setbacks of Saarinen's Chicago Tribune proposal, and the parti of the Candler Building, Hood began from a conception that 'the tendency of today is to treat the entire building as thought it were a detached, freestanding structure.' He set an eighteen-story tower atop a four-story base that matched its neighbors in heigh. The tower was pulled in sightly from the sides of the lot, and its chamfered corners accentuated its objectlike quality. The base, dematerialized by a taut skin of polished black granite, seemed no more substantial than 'a proyecting screen, back of which rises the towering bulk of the building.' The massing was no quite pure -the back of tehy building simply followed the setback requirements for rear yards, with the base rising up to engage the tower- but from Bryant Park the tower seemed inviolate. Hood's use of "courts" at the side of the tower and of chamfere corners insured that the American Radiator Building would remain and individualistic disruption of the street wall no matter what was built next door. The most extreme attempt yet to escape the Classical, street oriented urbanism that characterized the Composite Era, the Radiator Building fore-shadowed that completed colapse of metropolitan cohesivebess which Hood would subsequentlyproject in his City of Towers" Stern, Robert A. M., Gilmartin, Gregory, Mellins, Thomas. New York 1930. Architecture and Urbanism Between the Two World Wars. New York. Rizzoli. 1987. Page. 576).

    Stern continued:

    "Although it resemble the Chicago Tribune Building, the subtle profile of the Radiator's setbacks, its simpker articulation of rectangular piers, and its abstract ornament conspired to bring the Gothic tradition of the Woolworth and Bush Terminal buildings one step closer to an astylar Modern Naturalism. Only at the base -in the bronze grilles surrounding the entrance and the showroom windows and in the grotesque corbels above -were the details literally Gothic. The finials above looked more like three-dimensional versions of Ferris's zoning diagrams than Gothic crockets. Hood described the exterior as 'in line with the skyscraper tradition in America, and I was no more adverse to studying modern precedent than we all have been to studying ancient precedent... Goodhue, Corbett, Saarinen and the other men who gave the impetus to the study of this problem, and reproductions of whose drawings were scattered ver our tables as we worked, gave us a lift over many rough places". (Stern. Op. Cit. Page 576).

    There is a picture of the American Radiator Building on October 1924.

    There is the Columbus Circle from Fisk Building looking northwest. November 1924.

    Aerial view of Manhattan Island looking north. December 1924. Photo: Fairchild Aerial Surveys.

    Now, the race for the sky was start. More and more high skyscrapers was to be rised. The open air-rights spaces of Park Avenue were almost fulled with residential buildings. Now, the Grand Central Terminal railroads were almost underground, under the new appartment and hotel buildings. Park Avenue were simply GLAMOROUS!!!

    The Grand Central Palace and its Park Avenue 20-story annex. May 1925.

    Another picture of the building

    Aerial view of Midtown Manhattan looking southeast from Central Park. May 1925. In these time many high-rises office buildings begin to rises in the zone. In the foreground appears the Plaza Hotel. Photo: Fairchild Aerial Surveys.

    But, in 57th Street the Park Avenue's first large skyscrapers were completed. The Ritz Tower. July 1925 with 45 stories.

    On November, 1925, the traffic on Fifth Avenue were caothic.

    In the new Millonaires Row, in Riverside Drive, too. December 1925. Crazy 1920's.

    Next, our trip to be continued on 1926.

    For the bloggers: Are you have any picture that illustred the city skyline on 1924-25 and any other that illustrate the American Radiator Building? Show here!!!
    Last edited by erickchristian; April 9th, 2011 at 02:30 AM. Reason: More information

  2. #47

    Default Manhattan 1920s

    1926. Special. Art Deco takes Manhattan

    Hello friendly! Here we are again in this count of the evolution of the skyscrapers of New York, throught 20th Century. Today we are on 1926. The year that Art Deco arrive to New York with two important buildings: The Barclay-Vessey Building and the Paramount building.

    But, what is Art Deco??

    In a general definition, according with the painter Don Black, Art Deco as "an abreviation of 'Exposition des Arts Decoratifs et industriels', a Parisian Design Fair of 1925. In general usage Art Deco almost entirely refers to the traditional sense of objects d' art or artistic artifacts ranging from clothes, fabrics, jewelry, and furniture to advertising, books, and appliances. Indeed, every artifact of daily use came under its design auspices" (Vlack, Don. Art Deco Architecture In New York 1920-1940. New York. Icon Editions. Harper & Row. 1974. Page 5).

    The Wikipedia have a more amplied definition:

    "Art Deco was a popular international art design movement from 1925 until the 1940s, affecting the decorative arts such as architecture, interior design, and industrial design, as well as the visual arts such as fashion, painting, the graphic arts, and film. At the time, this style was seen as elegant, glamorous, functional, and modern.

    The movement was a mix of many different styles and movements of the early 20th century, including Neoclassical, Constructivism, Cubism, Modernism, Art Noveau, and Fururism. Its popularity peaked in Europe during the Roaring Twenties and continued strongly in the United States through the 1930s.Although many design movements have political or philosophical roots or intentions, Art Deco was purely decorative" (Art Deco. From Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Search this page web: Review on July 24. 2009).

    The Wikipedia continue says:

    "The structure of Art Deco is based on mathematical geometric shapes.[It was widely considered to be an eclectic form of elegant and stylish modernism, being influenced by a variety of sources. Among them were the so-called "primitive" arts of Africa, Ancient Egypt, and Aztec Mexico. It also drew on Machine Age or streamline technology, such as modern aviation, electric lighting, the raio, the ocean liner and the skyscraper for inspiration.It is in streamline modern styles that this technology fully manifests itself and, although it is not antithetical to Art Deco, it is now considered to be a separate architectural style.

    Art Deco design influences were expressed in the crystalline and faceted forms of decorative Cubism and Futurism. Other popular themes in Art Deco were trapezoidal, zigzagged, geometric, and jumbled shapes, which can be seen in many early pieces" (Art Deco. From Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Search this page web: Review on July 24. 2009).

    In New York, the Art Deco style was a very popular between the years 1926-1940. The Art Deco was a style with great acceptance in New York to 1926 until 1940. The reason is that this new style perfectly adjusted to the appearance and the character of the city like a modern metropolis, an own style of the Capital of 20th Century. An important data is that the escence of New York as metopoli of the Machine Age were representated in the Fritz Lang's film Metropolis, where the machines dominated a skyscrapering Art Deco city of future.

    The architecture historian, Cervin Robinson says about New York's Art Deco:

    "(...) Stated most briefly, the occasion for Art Deco in New York City was a building boom that started in 1925 and lasted until 1931; and the intention of New York architects was to unite several separate ideas in the design of the skyscrapers called for in the boom years. The buildings they designed were marked by European decorative influences but were also affected by certain ideas from Chicago, by the theater, and by an image of a future New York that had long had popular currency. The carrer of this architecture was probably also determined by the fact that its journalism was weak. Finally, it was maked, and perhaps most significantly, by the training that New York architects has recived" (Robinson Cervin. Haag Bletter, Rosemarie. Skyscraper Style. Art Deco New York. New York. Oxfrod University Press. 1975. Pages 4 and 5).

    The first Art Deco skyscraper were influenced for a Pre-columbian art, overall, in Mexico's Aztec and Mayan structures and art. The first Deco's skyscrapers in Manhattan were build in 1926. In this year the New York Telephone (Barclay-Vessey) and Paramount buildings were completed.

    New York Telephone Building or also called Barclay Vesey Building. (Voorhees, Gmelin and Walker, 1926)

    The Pre-Columbian style Paramount Building (Raap and Raap, 1926).

    The Theatre historian Ken Bloom says about the Paramount:

    "The 35-story building, thought classically inspired has a decided art-deco style. As it rises, the building employs a series of setbacks, culminating in a ziggurat upon which stands the magnificent clock tower. The apex of the entire structure is the 20-foot glass globe that was meant to be illuminate. the globe was perhaps inspired by the London Coliseum, which is also topped by a lighted globe, creating a beacon in London's West End"(Bloom, Ken. Broadway. An Encyclopedic Guide to the History, People and Places of Times Square. New York. Facts On File. 1991. Page 277).

    Bloom continued says:
    "The Paramount Building had an auspicious opening tied to the opening of the Paramount Theatre over which it towered. It was built to house the New York offices of Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, the parent of Paramount Pictures. Stanley's Restaurant in the Putnam Building was demolished to make way for the 35-floor office building" (Bloom. 1991: Page 277).

    The building also contained and observation tower at its roof where sightseers could look over Manhattan for only a quarter" (Bloom, Ken. Broadway. An Encyclopedic Guide to the History, People and Places of Times Square. New York. Facts On File. 1991. Page 277).


    We countinue our trip over Manhattan Skyline evolution.

    The Paramount Building opening avertising. 1926.

    1918's Bush Building looking west from Bryant Park Building. June 1926

    The Beaux-Art Style At&T Building on Broadway, near St. Paul Chappel. September 1926.


    In 1927, New York concentrating its skyscrapers in the Financial District, but, Building Boom were changed quickly the face of Midtown Manhattan: more a more tall skyscrapers were build here, overall in Times Square, Grand Central area and the Pennsylvania Station surroundings. The city skyline already showed to ampliamentos the effects of 1916's Zoning Law in its new buildings, that were on Wedding-Cake shape.

    This a vew of Manhattan Island on 1926. This view show many new buildings: In Lower Manhattan can see the Barclay-Vessey Building, the new Transportation Building near Woolworth Building and the Standard Oil Building.

    Manhattan looking southwest from East River. 1927

    The Barclay-Vesey Building, home of the New York Telephone. 1927. Check on far right of the Building, the Washington Market (in this site the World Trade Center towers were built on this site 40 years after).

    Times Square looking southwest from Loews State Theater's Building show the Times Tower and Paramount Building. March 1927.

    The old 1880's New York Herald Building, on Herald Square (Broadway, Sixth Avenue between 35th to 36th Streets) when it was nearby to its demolition. March 1927. The McAlpin Hotel, on 34th Street can see in the background.

    Trinity Church. May 1927

    Paramount Building from Broadway and 42nd Street. May 1927

    Park Avenue looking south from 56th Street. May 1927. Luxurius High-rise residential building were built on the avenue on the last 15 years. Look the garden style blocks in the middle of the avenue.

    Another of the first Art Deco's skyscrapers and one of the first tall skyscrapers of the Fifth Avenue: Fred F. French Building (Fred F. French Company and Sloan and Robertson. 1927). May 1927. The 36-story building to today is very famous for its Aztec style Deco crown masonry on the top.

    Glittering Great Way Way. Times Square on june 1927 looking north.

    The Paramount Building. June 1927

    Lower Manhattan looking northeast from the Bay. July 1927. Many wedding-cake skyscraper were build in Financial District: The Woolworth Building (on far left, at background) dominate the panorama, but the new 43-story Transportation Building makes company to the Woolworth. At the center of the picture can see the Morgan Building under construction, behind the new Standard Oil Building.

    Another aerial view of the Financial District, now over Battery Park. July 1927

    And aerial view of the Park Row Area looking west. July 1927. Can see the Barclay-Vesey, Transportation and Woolworth Buildings on backgound. The Municipal Building can see on foreground.

    The new 30 story Savoy Plaza Hotel, opposite Grand Army Plaza. August 1927.

    Aerial view of Midtown Manhattan looking northwest. September 1927. Many new skyscrapers begun to change the skyline in Midtown. In the center can see the site for the future Rockefeller Center. The site, in these time were occupied by old tenement buildings. Photo: Fairchild Aerial Surveys.

    Ely Jacques Kahn's Art Deco 2 Park Avenue Building. Park Avenue between 32nd to 33rd Streets. December 1927.

    The Barbizon Plaza on Lexington Avenue and East 63rd Street: December 1927

    The next week I have more of the city of 1920s, and going to talk about the New York on late 20s and the start of the 1928-1931 race for the Sky (from Chanin Building to Empire State Building).

    For the bloggers: Are you have any picture that illustred the city skyline of 1926-27, the Paramount and Barclay-Vessey Buildings? Show here!!!
    Last edited by erickchristian; April 9th, 2011 at 02:38 AM. Reason: I Added more information

  3. #48

    Default Manhattan 1920s

    1928. The race for the sky was begun.

    Hello friendly! Here we are again in this count of the evolution of New York and its skyscrapers trought 20th Century. This week we study the City in late1920s. We are in 1928 and the city were consolidated like the Skyscraper's Capital of the World. The Woolworth Building were the tallest building in the world for 14 years. But its kingdom began to be threatened. In 1928 the race for the skies begins and the atchitects and banks, commercial firms and advertising firms begun to build towers more and more higher.

    The commercial companies and trust want to build a skyscraper more higher than of their then competition and began. Althought, buildings of 40, 50 stories o more higher begun to appear on the Manhattan Skyline.

    This race of the Height was started on Midtown Manhattan when in 1926, John Larkin propossed a 110-story, 1,208 foot-high tower on 42nd Street between Eight to Ninth Avenues, on the same site where the McGraw-Hill Building was build few years after. A real architecture and technological challenger. But this building was never built.

    The architect Robert M. A. Stern says:

    "Scoffed at as anfeasible, althought it included innovative solutions to the problem of minimizing the potentially rentable floor space consumed by elevator shafts, Larkin's proposal was never built" (Stern, Robert A.M. Pride of Place. Boston. Houghton Mifflin Company. New York, American Heritage. 1986. Page. 263).

    For 1928, Midtown Manhattan was the ideal place to development a new commercial center, because it was offer a great supply of space available to built, in which until few years ago, was well-known an extensive and luxury residential zone. Robert A.M. Stern says as Midtown Manhattan site was "profhetic of the shift to a second business center in manhattan, where the next generation of skyscrapers would be built close to the center of New York's consuming pleausures of fashionable apartments and hotels, theater and shopping, as well as to the railroad stations that cemented New York's status as downtown to the nation" (Stern. 1986. Pages 263, 265).

    The first of this super-skyscrapers was the Chanin Building.

    1928 Special: Chanin Building. First of the race for the sky.

    With 680-foot tall, the Chanin Building was lower than the 792-foot tall Woolworth Buildng. But its located in the soutwestern corner of Lexington Avenue and 42nd Street, was the tallest building in Midtown Manhattan with 56 stories. Stern says:
    "Althought the Chaning Building (Sloan & Robertson, 1928), built for Irwin Chanin, was lower than the Woolworth Building or Metropolitan Life Tower, it rose as the tallest, most magnificent tower in Midtown" (Stern. 1986. Page 265).

    The Chanin Building. Sloan & Robertson, Architects. 1928.

    This building was built for Irwin Chanin, a architect and real state developer was during the 1920s and 1930s built several tall offices and residential buildings over Manhattan and Sloan and Robertson's architects firm. It have 56 stories and is very rich in Art Deco elements in its facade and interior.

    Stern says in New York 1930:

    "The Chanin Building was Irwin Chanin's proudest monument. In a handsome promotional brochure whose cover was emblazoned with a drawing by Hugh Ferris, it was described as the "mise en scène for the romantic drama of American business and proclaimed a "national landmark... proof against all change forever." At the time it was the third tallest building on Manhattan,a building with more floors than the Woolworth Building even though it was 112 feet shorter. Its sheer floodlit slab, "growing silently and beautifully, seemingly in another world", instantly became a landmark" (Stern, Robert A. M., Gilmartin, Gregory, Mellins, Thomas. New York 1930. Architecture and Urbanism Between the Two World Wars. New York. Rizzoli. 1987. Page. 597).

    Stern continued:

    "The Chanin Building was a worthy succesor to the building it replaced, the Manhattan Storage Warehouse, James Ware's hulking fortress, which had loomed over the neighborhood since 1882. In 1925 a developer proposed a thirty-five-story building for the site, but the following year the Chanins produced a sketch perspective by Rouse & Goldstone for a bulky square tower that was ten stories taller. Shortly afterward, however, Sloan & Robertson, perhaps on the strenght of their work for Fred French, were brought in, and Sloan transformed the tower into a more efficient slab parallel to Lexington Avenue, sculpted in a manner reminiscent of Saarinen's second-prize entry in the Chicago Tribune Competition. The zoning complexities of the Chanin Building site, with three sets of rules applying, led to a design in which the slab rather than the base to slab was unusually subtle, with a pyramidal composition of setbacks rising up between the eings of a U-shaped base to visually support the 680-foot shaft. Base and tower seemed tewn from a single mass" (Stern. 1987. Page. 597).

    He says about the Chanin's facade:

    "The building was clad in buff brick and terra-cota and its vertical piers projected slightly to give a very subtle emphasis to the facades. At street level, Sloan's massing was complemented by a decorative program created by Renee Chamberlain, the architectural sculptor, and Jacques L. Delamarre, the head of the Chanin Company's architecture department. Above shop fronts sheathed in bronze and black Belgian marble, a bronze frieze narrated the story of evolution, beginning with the lower marine froms and then bursting forth with fish and birds. This formed a plinth for a two-story colonnade of massive Norman piers whose squashed cushion capitals were carved with writhing sea monsters. The fourth story was sheathed in terra-cotta panels rendered with a bold overall pattern of abstract floral motifs (...).

    The crown of the terra-cotta clad tower was designed to be as dramatic at night in the daytime. The setbacks at the fifty-third floor was broken by a series of buttresses that were pierced to form a sheltered promenade outside the Chanin offices on the fifty-fourth floor. A battery of 212 flooflights cast mysterious shadows on the tower at night" (Stern. 1987. Page 598).

    Night view of Chanin Building. May 1928.
    Last edited by erickchristian; July 29th, 2009 at 06:14 PM. Reason: Added more information

  4. #49



    Before Modernism.

  5. #50


    20s, 30s NY was the city at its zenith.

  6. #51


    ^ That's right.

    But the beauty of it was that the city survived that way right through the Fifties --at least until Chase Manhattan and Seagram came along --and those buildings were so seductive to the novelty-craving eye that no one really saw the harm in them --until it was much too late.

    If you crave novelty, the danger is you might get it.

  7. #52


    Its a shame because up until modernism i dont think there was an era of NY that wasn't beautiful from an architectural/ urban standpoint. Even the tenements and dirt of the LES would have been a great place to experience. Something we can only get now by going to some places in Europe or better Asia, or the Mid East.

  8. #53

    Default Manhattan 1920s

    1928 Special. The New York Life Building. Dead of old symbol and the birth of a new icon.

    Hi!!! We are back in this count on the evolution of the Skyscraper's Capital of the World. In this occasion we followed in our trip in 1928. As we spoken yesterday, in this year the race for reach the sky was launched and we spoken about the Chanin Building. Now, we're talking about another building that change the face of Manhattan -specially in the Madison Square Park Area, but its construction mean the disappearance of an old symbol of the city. Today we're going to spoke about the New York Life Building.

    The New York Life Building is today one of the most famous New York's skyscrapers and one of the most legendaries. It was the symbol of the New York Life Insurance Company since it was build in 1928 and appear on many Company's TV Commercial advertisings.

    In 1925 the 1890 McKim, Mead & White old Sevillan style Madison Square Garden, in Madison Avenue and East 26th to 27th Streets opposite Madison Square Park was demolished, and the Garden was moved to a new building on Eight Avenue between 49th to 50th Streets (The site now was occupped by 1988 50-story Worldwide Plaza). The reasson: few in 1916, the New York Life bougth the Garden building for its new offices.

    Madison Square Garden on the future New York Life Building's site. 1903 R.I.P.

    Since 1899 New York Life Insurance Company was located in a 12-story building in 346 Broadway, near the Financial District and of the Civic Center. Since late 1910s this building was insufficient for the more and more complex Company's financial operations. Was urgent, for the company, built a new building for satisfy the gigantic needs of the New York Life.

    Since 1919 New York Life commisioned to Woolworth Building's architect, Cass Gilbert to design of the new Madison Square Park headquarters. Robert A.M. Stern, in his book New York 1930 (1987) says:

    "Gilbert's inicial sketches of 1919 were astonishingly bold. He experimented with two major strategies. The first set an immensely tall tower between the wings of a deep light court, transforming the Standard Oil Building into a true, soaring skyscraper. A second set of drawings foreshadowed the massing strategy of Shreve, Lamb & Harmon's Empire State Building: they showed a low, five-story base that filled the site and served as a plinth for a vast square tower. Both Gothic and Classical scheme was modeled on Sansovino's Library in Venice, while its tower evoked the campanile of San Marco-a blatant attempt to dwarf Napoleon Le Brun's MEtropolitan Life tower, which was modeled on the same source. In the unsettled postwar economy Gilbert's client, unprepared for such an extravagant gesture, may have considered selling the site, as it was here that Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue proposed to erect his Convocation Tower in 1921" (Stern, Robert A. M., Gilmartin, Gregory, Mellins, Thomas. New York 1930. Architecture and Urbanism Between the Two World Wars. New York. Rizzoli. 1987. Page 542).

    But, in 1924 - Stern says -, "The Real State Record and Guide revealed that New York Life had discreetly filed plans to raze Madison Square Garden and replace it with a twenty-six-story headquarters designed by Gilbert" (Op. Cit. Page 542). The Gilbert new plans showed the new building design:

    "(...) a five-story base base, again modeled on Sansovino's Library, now supported a crushingly massive, sixteen-story palazzo with a lumpish square pavilion sitting on its roof" (Stern. 1987. page 542), but his sketch was severely criticized by New York Life's architects consultants, and Gilbert, later, was ordered new sketches that considered new 1916's Zoning Law's requirements.

    After several years of sketches, finally, in 1927 Gilbert's final design as approved and the construction of the new 38-story New York Life hedquartes was begun and it were open one year after.

    Stern says about the New York Life:

    "(...) the building was a Gothic design with a unusual massing. Altough more hummanely scaled than the original scheme and graced with a beautiful pyramidal silhouette, the final massing strategy was a peculiar piling up of forms with little relationship to one another. As Talbot Hamlin put it: the building, "detailed in a free, late Gothic style, is particularly happy in the simple, yet elegant treatment of its lower portion and the arrangement of its first setbacks; the central tower with its pyramidal top is less sure in silhoulette." Above a four-story base the building set back considerably to a nine-story mass with two shallow light courts facind each side street. Above another setback a narrow slab intersected a massive square tower that culminated in a gilded pyramidal roof 610 feet above the sidewalk. Despite its grandeur the tower was incapable of organizing the spreading masses below it. Without the pyramidal roof the building would have been a rather static composition of volumes, but with it, the tower seemed to sink into the ground. Yet the gilded pyramid was a brilliant contribution to the skyline, particularly as the rising or setting sun glinted off its surfaces" (Stern. 1987. Page 543).

    This is the New York Life Insurance Company Building. Cass Gilbert, architect. 1928.

    The New York Life and the Metropolitan Life towers.

    Yet, we continued our trip trought 1928.

  9. #54

    Default Manhattan 1920s


    We are continue our travel on the city of 1928. We start our general count of the evolution of New York City's Skyline and its skyacrapers in that year.

    The recently opened Sherry-Netherland (Schultze & Weaver and Buchman & Kahn, 1927) and Savoy Plaza hotels (McKim, Mead & White, 1927). January 1928. The new 40-story French ecleticism Sherry-Netherland Hotel replaced the old 15-story 1892 New Netherland Hotel and 30-story Savoy Plaza Hotel was build on the site of old 10-story 1892 Hotel Savoy. It was the first tall skyscrapers hotel on Grand Army Plaza zone. Unfortunatelly, the Savoy Plaza was demolished on 1966 to make way to 50-story modern General Motors Building.

    And early March 1928, look from Central Park.

    Another picture of the Sherry Netherland and the Savoy Plaza hotels. March 1928.

    The Bush Building. March 1928.

    The new "street-mate" of Woolworth Building: a new 44-story Transportation Building that was completed on 1927.

    Another time the pictures of the Chanin Building. May 1928:

    In the day

    At night.

    The 40-story New York Central (now Hemsley) Building under construction, on may 1928. The complete story of the New York Central Building will be treat coming soon on the special "1929 Special: The New York Central Building" the next week.

    The 33-story Art Deco style. Graybar Building, near Grand Central Terminal, in Lexington Avenue between 43rd to 44 Streets (Sloan & Robertson, 1925-27) May 1928.

    Skyscrapers on 42ns Street, near Grand Central Terminal. May, 1928.

    The Trinity Church. May 1928

    Park Avenue South and 39th Street showing Grand Central Terminal and the New York Central Building under construction. June 1928.

    Midtown Manhattan looking northeast from Graybar Building. June 1928. The tallest skyscraper of the background (right of the Queensboro Bridge) is the 28-story Panhellenic Tower.

    Midtown Manhattan looking north fron New York Central Building under construction. This picture show Park Avenue. June 1928.

    Aerial view of Lower Manhattan looking southwest from East River showing Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. July 1928. The Financial District showed with more frecuently the efect of the 1916 Zoning Law. The Woolworth Building dominated the skyline... but its kingdom will be done in a few years.

    The Commodore Hotel. July 1928

    Fifth Avenue looking south from Central Park and 62nd Street. December 1928. On far left, at background can see the new 40-story Fuller Building under construction.

    Are you have any picture that illustred the city skyline of late 1920's and pictures about the Chanin and New York Life Buildings, and other late 20's skyscrapers? Please, Show here!!!
    Last edited by erickchristian; April 9th, 2011 at 02:44 AM. Reason: I Added more information

  10. #55
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Far West Village, NYC


    I like this thread. A lot.

  11. #56


    erickchristian, you are performing a great service for us all. How did you acquire these many wonderful images?

  12. #57

    Default How I adquire my pictures?

    Quote Originally Posted by ablarc View Post
    erickchristian, you are performing a great service for us all. How did you acquire these many wonderful images?

    Ablarc thanks for your commentary. These pictures I obtained them scanning my books that I collect about New York City. Since general dictionaries and encyclopedias. Cause I live in Mexico, many of the pictures were scanned from spanish encyclopedias. But many of the images that post in this blog were adquired from my particular collection and the following books thats I get from my college's library:

    • Stern, Robert A.M. Pride of Place. Boston. Houghton Mifflin Company. New York, American Heritage. 1986.
    • Stern, Robert A. M., Gilmartin, Gregory, Mellins, Thomas. New York 1930. Architecture and Urbanism Between the Two World Wars. New York. Rizzoli. 1987.
    • Huxtable, Ada Louise. The Tall Building Artistically Reconsidered: The Search for a Skyscraper Style. New York. Pantheon Books. Second Edition. 1984.
    • Goldberger, Paul. The Skyscraper. New York. Alfred A. Knopf. 1981.
    • Clausen, Meredith L. The Pan Am Building and the shattering of the modernist dream. Boston. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 2005.
    • Stravitz, David and Gray, Christopher. New York, Empire City 1920-1945. New York. Harry N. Abramsm Inc. Publishers. 2004.
    ...and many early or mid 20th Century postcards album books, many of them are editing by Manhattan Postcard Company.

    Many of the pictures was taken by:

    • Lewis Hine.
    • Irwin Underhill
    • Ewing Galloway
    • Andrea Fenninger
    • Samuel Gottscho
    • Brown Brothers.
    Last edited by erickchristian; August 3rd, 2009 at 05:43 PM. Reason: Correct my style and added more information

  13. #58

    Default Manhattan 1920s


    Hello!!! We are back to follow with the history of the skyscrapers of New York. As the last week were seen, we are finalizing the 1920s and we landed in 1929 when the Bank of Manhattan and the Chrysler Building, few buildings under contruction were fighting for the tottle of the Tallest Building on the World. The Bank of Manhattan, Chrysler and the Empire State Buildings were conceived between 1928 and 1929, but during its construction, in 1929-1931 were ocurred the Financial Crash of 1929: The Depression was begun.

    From 1927 the capital flows lavishly and everybody speculates in the Stock Echange, from the great companies and the banks to people common who want to of investing its money savings.

    The American Historian Samuel Eliot Morrison wrote about the Depression.

    “The average value of the common stocks raised of 117 in December from 1928 to 225 in the following month of September. Inspired by overwhelming gains, the moneylenders later increased their loans of 3500 million of dollars in 1927 to 8500 million two years after. Only in January of 1929, less than 1000 million dollars in values did not leave stock-market. The use in the factories, the loads of the railroads, the contracts of the construction, the loans of the banks, almost all the indices of the businesses, showed a clear ascending tendency” (Eliot Morrison, Samuel . Steele Commager, Henry. Leuchtenburg, William E. Breve Historia de los Estados Unidos. Mexico City, Mexico. Fondo de Cultura Econòmica. Spanish Edition. Second re-edition of the Fourth Edition. 2003. Pages. 668-669. English traslation to spanish by Erick Christian Alvarez Soto).

    The financial speculation was on great proportions. The great banks gave money and speculated with the investments of the savers. The middle-class people bought everything on credit and in these years everybody says of a great prosperity in the United States. Even, and even, president Hoover spoke of which “in the United States we are more near the final triumph on the poverty that never in the history of any country” (Morrison. 2003. Page 668); but everything was a chimera. The center of the drama was Wall Street, in Manhattan.

    Morrison says:

    “(…) nevertheless, while Hoover announced in his Presidential possession `in ever nation is safer the fruits of job', the sagacious investors were retiring of the market. The Federal Reserve did not make great thing to invest the policy of easy credits that it had inaugurated in 1927, but was many reasons to worry. The World economy was discouraging. World War I debts were uncollectable, the foreign trade had precipetely declined, and the interests of the thousands of million dollars of the private investments were not received either. Agriculture was in depression, and the industries as the one of the coal and the textiles they had not participated in the general wellfare. Great part of the new wealth had been going to stop the few privileged people. 5% of the population enjoyed a third of the total entrance. The businessmen reaped an out of proportion amount of the gains of the productivity of the new factories, or they registered or them like dividends and not like wages. And while the industry produced article mountains but it denied to the workers the spending power to buy them, he was inevitable a collapse. Meanwhile, the national debts and deprived had reached stratospheric numbers; for 1930, the load of the total debt was calculated, approximately, in a third of the national debt” (Eliot Morrison, Samuel . Steele Commager, Henry. Leuchtenburg, William E. Breve Historia de los Estados Unidos. Mexico City, Mexico. Fondo de Cultura Econòmica. Spanish Edition. Second re-edition of the Fourth Edition. 2003. Page 669. English traslation to spanish by Erick Christian Alvarez Soto).

    The financial crash was on October 29th 1929, five days after the demolition works were begun on the old Waldorf Astoria Hotel, in Fifth Avenue and 34th Street, to make way the Empire State Building.

    Morrison says of the crash:

    “In less than a month, the values underwent a declination average of 40%. At the outset, many supposed that the bankruptcy of Wall Street, although devastating, was only the last one of those familiar financial panics that the country already had experimented before. In fact it helped to cause a depression that would leave an enormous fault in the United States” (Eliot Morrison, Samuel . Steele Commager, Henry. Leuchtenburg, William E. Breve Historia de los Estados Unidos. Mexico City, Mexico. Fondo de Cultura Econòmica. Spanish Edition. Second re-edition of the Fourth Edition. 2003. Page 669. English traslation to spanish by Erick Christian Alvarez Soto).

    In a architectural scene the race for the sky were started. The chapter about the Chryslers Building vs. Bank of Manhattan Tower will be review in the next post, but it is a general architectural panaorama of the city of 1929.

    The recently opened New York Life Building and the Metropolitan Life Building rises over Madison Square Park. January 1929.

    The New York Life Building from the Madison Square Park. April 1929.

    The 1928 45-story Merchantise Building on 10 East 40th Street. May 1929.

    The 42nd Street looking east from 9 floor of the new Chrysler Building while it was under construction. May 1928: Can see the new Tudor City apartment towers and the skeleton of the future Daily news Building under construction (in this time the future 38-story building was rised only 9-stories in the moment when the picture was taken).

    Tall skyscrapers building boom in Midtown Manhattan. View looking southwest over 42nd Street from Chrysler Building under construction. June 1929. The picture show the 40-story Lefcourt Colonial and 55-story Lincoln Buildings under construction on the center.

    Midtown Manhattan looking northwest from Chrysler Building under construction. June 1929. Can see the Savoy-Plaza and Sherry Netherland on background at center and the new 40-story Art Deco style Fuller Building on the far right, at backgorund.

    Park Avenue looking northwest from East 51st Street (St. Bartholomew Church's atrium) showing the new Fuller Building on background. June 1929.

    The recently opened New York Central Building. June 1929.

    A Zeppellin flies over Woolworth Building. July 1929.

    The new skyscrapered Herald Square. July 1929.

    Times Square on September 1929.

    The Chrysler Building under construction. October 1929.

    The Chrysler Building under construction. December 1929.

    Next the 1929 Special: The New York Central (Hemsley) Building and after the 1929-1930 Special: Bank de Manhattan Building vs Chrysler Building. If you have any picture were scaned of a some book of a some postcard about the city of 1929, please, show here.
    Last edited by erickchristian; November 27th, 2009 at 05:45 PM. Reason: Correct

  14. #59

    Default Manhattan 1920s

    1929 Special: The New York Central Building. King of Park Avenue.

    Hello! We continue with this trip in the time on the history of the skyscrapers of New York. We follow in 1929 and before analyzing the competition between the Chrysler buildings and Bank of Manhattan, we cannot leave to a side the Hemsley Building, then called New York Central Building.

    This building, located in the middle of Park Avenue, behind Grand Central Terminal between 44th to 45th Streets, was the penultimate that completed the air-rights spaces above New York Central railroads that it covered with Park Avenue between 1910 and 1931. This building was designed by Grand Central Terminal's architect firm Warren & Wetmore between 1927-1929 for the new offices of New York Central Railroad, the tenement of the railroads below Park Avenue and the Terminal. It was the king of Park Avenue until the construction of the octogonal Pan Am Building in early 60s.

    The New York Central Building under construction. May 1928

    Robert A. M. Stern, in his book New York 1930 (1987) says
    "The New York Central was by far Warren & Wetmore's most succesful skyscraper design. If Grand Central Terminal was the secular basilica of the new midtown business district, the New York Central was its campanile, a proud representation of the power of the New York Central Railroad, personifying that corporation not so much as a force in transportation as in real estate, wich togheter with stocks and bonds comprised the holy trinity of capitalism of 1920s" (Stern, Robert A. M., Gilmartin, Gregory, Mellins, Thomas. New York 1930. Architecture and Urbanism Between the Two World Wars. New York. Rizzoli. 1987. Page 592).

    Park Avenue looking north from 39th Street showing New York Cnetral Building under construction. June 1928.

    Paul Goldberger, in his book The City Observed. New York (1979) says about the New York Central:

    (...) designed by Warren & Wetmore and completed in 1929, a perfect punctuation mark in the midst of Park Avenue's sobriety. The New York Central Building rose higher than the others, as befitted not only the railroad's headquarters but the building in the center of the avenue; it culminated in a great pyramidal roof topped by an elaborate cupola. At the tower's base were set two great arches, vehicular tunnels wich completed the iompressive system of access and bypass radways to bring traffic around the terminal. The building provided the perfect focus for the southward view from upper Park Avenue; it pulled the eye down that long line of apartment houses, gave it a moment of joy as it reached the exuberant top, then sent it on its way again, moving down the avenue" (Golberger, Paul. The City Observed. New York.New York. Vintage Books. Random House. 1979. Page 126).

    The New York Central Building (Warren & Wetmore. 1929), as seen from Park Avenue and 52nd Street).

    Looking north from New York Central Building. 1929.

    The New York Central from Park Avenue and 55th Street: February 1930.

    You have any commentary or picture about the New York Central Building? Please, show here.

  15. #60

    Default Manhattan 1930s


    A 1929-1930 Special for New York 20th Century's Manhattan 1930s

    The Bank of Manhattan Building


    The Chrysler Building



    AUGUST 2009
    Last edited by erickchristian; December 21st, 2010 at 02:27 AM.

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