Manhattan’s new skyscrapers flicker in the night

While the men who built them remained in the shadows, New York’s new skyscrapers lit the nighttime sky like Roman candles in the 1930s, as seen in this 1935 photo.

The Empire State Building was completed in 1931; the Chrysler building opened in 1930. The buildings of Rockefeller Center—where I believe this intrepid worker is enjoying a smoke on a steel beam—opened in the 1930s.

It’s hard to believe that not 50 years earlier, Trinity Church, with its spire reaching 284 feet toward the heavens, was the tallest structure in Manhattan.

[Photo: Library of Congress]

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3 Responses to “Manhattan’s new skyscrapers flicker in the night”

  1. Audrey Burtrum-Stanley Says:

    A ‘point of clarification.’

    The Chrsyler Bldg’s construction was completed BEFORE the Empire State Bldg. This was important as both were being built simultaneously within a short distance between the two sites. The brilliant designer, William Van Alen, had an unbelieveable scheme about how to grab the highly coveted international attention for his project-structure.

    The top portion of the building was the site of the ploy…the metal arches that seemingly pile atop each other with mini-triangle windows – all combining for a glorious deco crescendo! ALL of the
    building’s distinctive top was constructed INSIDE the upper floor. Then, each level was PUSHED UPWARD and installed in place.

    The last of the construction occoured in a shocking, record breaking time. This action stunned NYC sidewalk-observers as well as ‘the powers-that-be’ who were still erecting The Empire State Bldg. Soooo, for a brief period of world-wide, spotlight-glory, Walter Chrsyler’s Deco skyscraper masterpiece was the tallest bldg in the world!

    It should be noted, in the popular late 20th Century TV show, ‘SEX AND THE CITY’ – any time the main character, Carrie was addressing the best-of-New-York-City, she used the expression: “”It’s simply the Chrsyler Building!’

  2. EOSredux Says:

    One of my favorite photographers is Lewis Wickes Hine who took many iconic photos of the Sky Boys. Some of his work is archived at the NY Public Library and some on display at The Getty Museum in LA.

    Do you (or anyone) know if Hine took the photo in your post?

  3. David Lippman Says:

    I always loved this photograph.

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