With the Freedom Tower finally topped by its spire, it’s an appropriate time to look back at the early 20th century and see how the city’s most iconic tall buildings appeared during construction.
Did New Yorkers circa 1900 have any idea that the 22-story building (below) rising on the flatiron-shaped plot at Fifth Avenue, Broadway, and East 22nd Street would become one of the first skyscrapers?
It’s not quite what we think of as skyscraper today, but for 1902, it’s pretty impressive—as is the lower Broadway construction project destined to become the Woolworth Building (below).
It turns 100 this year, a beauty with an innovative steel-frame structure. And at 782 feet, it’s still one of the 50 tallest buildings in the country.
Without its clock tower, the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower (above), built between 1927 and 1929 off Flatbush Avenue, looks even more phallic than usual.
It went residential in the 2000s, but in this Brooklyn Historical Society photo, you can see an elevated train track behind it.
Last but not least is this image above of a half-built Empire State Building.
Three thousand workers put it together in just one year and 45 days—making it the world’s tallest building from its opening in 1931 to 1972, when the World Trade Center took that title.