The Bank of Manhattan Building
The Battle for the Heights
Hello! We are of return traveling on the history of New York Skyscrapers. Today we landed in the 1930s and we initiated this decade with the battle that occurred between two great skyscrapers for reach the tittle of World's Tallest Building: the Chrysler Building and the Bank of Manhattan Building.
It was a harder battle of rivalries between two great companies, two great architects to built the tallest building ever build on the Earth, title that until that moment showed the Woolworth Building during 17 years. The battle begun in 1928 and finalized in 1930, but finally, the winner did enjoy the tittle for a few time, because at the same time that it was being finished the fight, arises a third party in discord that it will snatch to them, fully the privilege from being highest.
First the contendents:
The Bank of Manhattan Building
The fight begun in 1928, when the architects partner William Van Allen and H. Craig Severances dissolved their society and announced plans to built the world's tallest building for their respective companies who was commisioned. Craig Severances announced the construction of a 67-story skyscraper for the Bank of Manhattan Company, in 40 Wall Street. They go Allen, meanwhile, announced the construction of the 65-story Chrysler Motor Company new headquarters, that would be built in the northeast corner of the Lexington Avenue and 42nd Street.
Originally, the site designated for the Chrysler Building was going to be the place to going to be built the Building Reynolds, a project of the theater empreteneur and real estate development, William H. Reynolds, who, as Robert A.M. Stern says, "(...) stimulated by Larkin proyect, he dreamed of erecting the world's tallest building, one that would top not only the Woolworth Building but Paris's Eiffel Tower as well. Reynolds selected William Van Allen to design his tower, perhaps because the architect had already acquired a certain reputation as a maverick" (Stern, Robert A. M., Gilmartin, Gregory, Mellins, Thomas. New York 1930. Architecture and Urbanism Between the Two World Wars. New York. Rizzoli. 1987. Page 606).
Evolution of Chrysler Building Van Alen's renderings: 1928-29.
Finally, in 1928, Reynolds sold the land, that was acquired by the automotive tycoon Walter P. Chrysler, who encomended to Allen the new offices to him of the company. Allen recovery the original Reynold's skyscraper proyect and it made many modifications until reaching the final design. Meanwhile, H. Craig Severances made partner with Japanese-American architect Yasuo Matsui, to design and built the Bank of Manhattan Building. After numerous modifications, a slim staggered skyscraper of 67-skyscraper in Art Deco style was designed that would dominate all the horizon of the Financial District.
The building of the two skyscrapers begun on Autum of 1928.
In may 1929, the Chrysler building rose approximately 10 or 15 stories. It is a view of 42nd Street looking east from the building under construction.
In June, when the steel structure of the Bank of Manhattan Building almost was finished, the steel skeleton of the Chrysler Building was grow quicklied, and was almost in the middle of its installation.
It is a view of 42nd Street looking southwest from the 25th floor. Simultaneously there were the Lefcourt Colonial and Lincoln buildings under construction in the same time.
Midtown Manhattan looking northwest from the 34th floor.
In the autumn of 1929, both skyscrapers had reached their peak altitude. Virtually, the Bank of Manhattan gained the title of the World's Tallest Building. For assure this tittle, Craig Severances and Matsui added a pyramid in the top of the structure that increased its height to 71 floors and 927 feet.
The Chrysler Building on late september 1929. Photo courtesy by Maradona-82
While, Allen had installed the multiple dome, but it did not manage to reach, at the moment, to its rival; but he and Chrysler had an ace under the sleeve: a needle.
Paul Goldberger, in his book The Skyscraper (1981) says about the needle:
"The spire, too, was not part of the original scheme, and it came about as a result of one of the most intense revalries of the period: As Chrysler was under construction, Van Allen's former partner, H. Craig Severance with his partner Yasuo Matsui, was completing a 66-story skyscraper at 40 Wall Street topped by a ornate pyramidal crow, not unlike that of the New York Central Building. Chrysler's originally announced height was 925 feet, and 40 Wall Street, the headquarters of the Bank of Manhattan Company, was set to top off a 927 feet, making it the tallest building in the world. van allen was determined that Chrysler should have the tittle, so he added the spire, wich was secretly assembled within Chrysler's crown and raised into place just as the tower was finished, leaving Severance in a distant second place" (Goldberger, Paul. The Skyscraper. New York. Alfred A. Knopf. 1981. Pages 82-83).
The instalation of the needle. October 1929.
The Chrysler Building. November 1929.
The spire was assembled and it stayed in the secret, in the crown of the skyscraper: Nobody, not even their rivals, knew of their existence. Finally, in November of 1929, the spire came to the light, giving to the Chrysler Building, with its 77 floors, 121 feet more until very reaching the 1048 feets (319 meters) of height, becoming the World's Tallest Building, leaving in a vergonsous second place to Bank of Manhattan Building. Midtown was surpassed Financial District the kingdom to the skyline.
Chrysler Building nearby completion. March 1930
Finally, the 77-story skyscraper was opened in may 1930.
But the kingdom of the Chrysler Building does not last much time. Shortly after his inauguration, it began to excel, so far, on the Fifth Avenue and 34th Street a new structure, that in few months, would snatch the title to him and it would become the absolute king of the skyscrapers: the Empire State Building.
Next, a 1930 Special about the Chrysler Building facts. If you have any photograph and commentary about the Chrysler Building and Bank of Manhattan Building's construction? Please. Show Here.