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Old Posted Jun 6, 2007, 6:41 AM
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Grand Designs- The word in concrete, stone and glass

Hello.

I'm rather new to posting to the Skyscraper Page, although I have been a visitor for about six years. Shame on me.

I'm Not sure if this belongs here, but hey, almost everybody who posts to this site will see their own city by the time I am done.

Let's just say that I wish to contribute to the urbanist dialogue, and I expect any and all locals of the municipalities I mention in this thread to correct any errors that appear.

I care more about accuracy than my ego.

'nuff said.

===

This is a multi-part thread that may be of interest to lovers of things grand and immense.



Great Pyramid of Giza

AKA: Pyramid of Khufu, Pyramid of Cheops

Location: Giza, Egypt (near Cairo).

Year Built: Constructed over a period of 20 years, likely completed around 2560 BCE.

Height: 455 feet (The pyramid was likely 480 feet tall when built, loss of height due to theft of stones and erosion).

Claim to fame: Largest pyramid ever built, and world’s tallest structure for 3,800+ years.

Status: Only Wonder of Ancient World that still exists. Still crumbling away, but should hang around a few more centuries at least.
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Old Posted Jun 6, 2007, 6:50 AM
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Lighthouse of Alexandria

AKA: The Pharos of Alexandria

Location: Formerly Island of Pharos, which is now inundated; parts of structure lie under harbour of Alexandria, Egypt

Year Built: Completed between 285 and 247 BCE.

Height: estimated to have been between 383 and 440 feet

Claim to fame: Tallest structure in the ancient world that was not a pyramid, and thus is the first true building in human history to achieve “skyscraper” status.

Status: Fell down in an earthquake in 1375 CE.



Lincoln Cathedral

Location: Lincoln, England

Year Built: Completed between 1092 and 1311 CE

Height: 525 feet when first completed in 1311, but the lead-encased wooden spire collapsed in a storm in 1549. (see diagrams below)

Claim to fame: If records are correct, the spire of Lincoln Cathedral was the world’s tallest structure from 1311-1549 CE. This 238-year record as the tallest is surpassed only by the Great Pyramid.

status: The current cathedral is 271 feet tall, and was used as the stand-in for Westminster Cathedral in the film The Da Vinci Code.



St. Olaf’s Church

AKA: St. Olav Tallinn

Location: Tallinn, Estonia

Year Built: Completed in 1519, the spire of St. Olaf’s Church stood 522 feet tall.

Claim to fame: The spire of St. Olaf’s served as a beacon for the port of Tallinn, and could be seen miles out to sea. When the spire of Lincoln Cathedral blew down in a storm, the title of world’s tallest building went to the 522-foot St. Olaf’s. It held this distinction until 1625, when it was struck by lightning and burned down.

Status: After 76 years at the top, St. Olaf's settled into obscurity. The reconstructed spire (seen in current photo) was “only” 406 feet tall, and thus the title of world’s tallest building passed to Notre Dame de Strasbourg.



Notre Dame de Strasbourg

Location: Strasbourg, France

Year completed: 1439

Height: 472 feet

Claim to fame: Although it was shorter than both the original Lincoln Cathedral, Old St. Paul’s, and the original St. Olaf’s, the 472-foot spire of Notre Dame Cathedral was built out of masonry rather than wood, and has survived all disasters to the present day. It held the record as world’s tallest building from 1625 to 1847 – a total of 222 years.

Status: Still one of the tallest Cathedrals on Earth.

See height comparisons below:



(The SkyscraperPage served as my source for these images. On this site, I'd like atribute the artists. On the site i originally presented this information, they wouldn't have cared who created what. Context is everything.)
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Old Posted Jun 6, 2007, 7:04 AM
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St. Nikolai's Church

AKA: St.-Nikolai-Kirche

Location: Hamburg, Germany

Year Completed: 1847,* Constructed between 1846-1874

Height: 482 feet

Claim to fame: St. Nikolai was originally constructed starting in 1355, just after the Black Death swept through Hamburg. The Cathedral went through a number of additions and modifications over the centuries; work began on the current spire in 1846 after part of the roof collapsed in a fire a few years before. The frame of the current spire was put into place in 1847.

*Some purists will argue that Notre Dame held the height record until 1874 when the spire of St. Nikolai was finished. However, the frame that was installed was the height of the current spire and is still present inside the masonry that was added over the next 27 years. Depending on viewpoint, St. Nikolai held the record for either 30 years or just two.

Status: Whatever the case, when the spire was completed in 1874, its height of 482 beat Notre Dame’s by 10 feet, and took the title of world’s tallest structure. St. Nikolai would only hold the record for two years after its completion. St. Nikolai survived allied bombing in 1944, but was heavily damaged.



Rouen Cathedral

Location: Rouen, France

Year Completed: 1876

Height: 495 feet

Claim to fame: The original Cathedral and spire at Rouen date to 1220. The present spire, however, was completed only in 1876. The spire was the world’s tallest structure from 1876 to 1880.

Status: The cathedral was bombed in 1944, taking several direct hits that narrowly missed destroying key pillars. During a later restoration, a 23-foot gilded antenna was added to the top of the spire that increased the total height to 518 feet. (This addition is not integral to the structure, and is not usually counted as part of the Cathedral's height.)



Cologne Cathedral

AKA: Kolner Dom

Location: Cologne, Germany

Height: 516 feet

Claim to fame: The tallest structure in the world between 1880 and 1884, the spire of the Cologne Cathedral is notable for having the largest facade of any cathedral ever built. (See diagram below for size comparison of the largest churches in history)

The Cologne Cathedral was also the last cathedral to ever be the tallest structure in the world.
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Old Posted Jun 6, 2007, 7:17 AM
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The 1880s were a busy time for architecture, to say the least. Never again would a cathedral be the tallest structure on Earth.

However, the true successor of the cathedral was yet to emerge when the Kolner Dom (Cologne Cathedral) was topped off in 1880.

At the time, nobody could conceive of a built form that owed nothing to the Ancients or ideas conceived in the Middle Ages. Indeed, the large-scale architecture from the 18th Century up to the early 20th Century tended to incorporate concepts that had been around for untold centuries.

The Parthenon in Athens is imitated by hundreds of banks and libraries, and the Roman Forum, the Pantheon and the Hagia Sofia are imitated by state capitol buildings in the USA and Australia and basilicas such as St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

It is perhaps fitting then that the most ancient type of structure of them all had a "last hurrah" before the techniques of the industrial world kicked in and changed the very concept of what a building could be.

In 1884, the world's tallest building — a cathedral — gave up its title to a pyramid.



Washington Monument

Year completed: 1884 (construction began in 1848)

Height: 555 feet

Claim to fame: The Washington Monument is a stone obelisk (an elongated pyramid) topped by an aluminum cap that sometimes reflects light, but usually blends right in with the granite and marble that the rest of the structure is made of. It was the first structure in this list since the Great Pyramid to have had a "final design," unlike the ever-changing configurations of Midieval cathedrals. It was also the first structure on this list never to become shorter over time due to erosion or disaster.

It is alsothe first structure on this list to surpass all of its predecessors in height from day one. Most notably, it surpassed the height of the famed spires of Lincoln Cathedral (destroyed in 1549) by thirty feet — and perhaps more if the scholars are wrong about how high those were.

Having been completed in "just" 36 years despite numerous delays (including the builders running out of money and the US Civil War causing work to be suspended), the Washington Monument required considerably less time to build than any cathedral.

Also, like the Great Pyramid, the Washington Monument commerates a specific person. Thankfully, George Washington was not disinterred and reburied under the obelisk as some suggested at the time.

Status: The Washington Monument remains the tallest obelisk in the world, and the laws in Washington DC that limit the height of buildings to the width of the street they are on, plus 20 feet, likely mean that this monument will remain the tallest building in the US capital.

The Washington Monument is the last of the historic tallest structures that supports its weight with masonry walls as all ancient buildings did.
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Old Posted Jun 6, 2007, 7:25 AM
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By the late 1880s it was pretty bloody obvious that industrialization and new technology had changed the world immeasurably from the way it had been just decades before.

We're used to things changing decade by decade, but this has not been the usual pattern in human history. Indeed after the Fall of Rome things went downhill for a thousand years give or take. Talk about a slump.

It wasn't until the 1700s that people began to realize that the technology of the Roman Era had been surpassed in most of Europe.

It wasn't until the 1880s when the phrase "Industrial Revolution" began to catch on to describe what was happening in Western Civilization.



Eiffel Tower

Location: Paris, France

Year completed: 1889

Height: 984 feet to the top of the uppermost observation deck, 1,063 feet to the top of the antenna.

Claim to fame: Built to commemorate the Centennial of the French Revolution and to serve as the ceremonial entrance to the World's Fair held in Paris in 1889. The tower is actually designed to be easily disassembled because it was meant to be temporary. Indeed, there were calls several times after the Exposition of 1889 to tear "the monstrosity" down. In 1902 the tower was struck by lightning (see above), causing the lights and elevator to short out. To prevent damage from lightning from harming the tower, the upper 300 feet were almost completely rebuilt.

Novelist Guy de Maupassant hated the tower with a passion. It is said that he often ate at a restaurant on the first deck, because it was the one place in Paris he didn't have to look at the thing.

Status: Over the objections of many Parisians, designer Gustave Eiffel received a permit for the tower to stand for 20 years, afterwhich it was expected to be dismantled (that would be in 1909). However, by then the tower had become the most popular tourist attraction in Paris and was also serving as an excellent place to instal radio transmitters and big electric advertisements for products such as Citroen cars! The City of Paris voted to leave the tower up.

When Hitler visited Paris after the Nazi occupation, he was unable to go up the tower because the elevator had been sabotaged and he didn't feel like walking up all those stairs. Hitler also ordered the tower destroyed in 1944 as the German Army retreated from Paris. The Nazi commander in Paris didn't have the heart to do this, and disobeyed.

At the time of its construction, no structure ever built had used so much structural iron, and nobody has built a taller iron structure since (the perfection of steel girders pretty much doomed iron in buildings anyway).

The Eiffel Tower dwarfed all other structures of the day (see below) and would remain the tallest structure in the world for 41 years. But it isn't about height is it? The Eiffel tower is also rather strikingly beautiful in its industrial minimalism.

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Old Posted Jun 6, 2007, 7:34 AM
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The structure that inherited the title of world's tallest from the Eiffel Tower requires a bit of a backstory.

Just as Blue Whales did not emerge from dinosaurs but rather from fuzzy little mammals, the skyscrapers of today did not emerge from the lineage of pyramids or cathedrals.

Rather the ancestor of the skyscraper was a small building in Chicago that doesn't exist anymore. When it was built in 1885 it wasn't all that out of place in Chicago. There were already taller buildings in the city



Home Insurance Building

Year Completed: 1885

Height: 138 feet initially, increased to 180 feet in 1890 when two floors were added.

Claim to Fame: The Home Insurance Building was different.

It was the fuzzy little mammal whose descendants would dominate the skyline of cities from Boston to Bangkok. The masonry dinosaurs were on the way out just as stoneworking had reached its ultimate glory in Hamburg and Rouen.

The Home Insurance Building was just ten storeys tall, but it was the first office building whose weight was supported by a steel frame rather than the walls of the structure. Because the walls did not have to support the weight, they were actually made of a thin layer of brick called a "curtain wall" that just cladded the frame and held up nothing but itself. The architect was engineer William LeBaron Jenney.

Curtain-wall construction meant that the Home Insurance Building weighed only one-third as much as a stone building of the same size would have. Chicago officials were so concerned that this new way of building might be unsafe (its walls are too thin! It will fall down!) that they halted construction for almost six months in 1884 while they investigated the safety of the building.



^From small beginnings: The 180-foot tall Home Insurance Building was never even the tallest building of Chicago, but it was the ancestor of all skyscrapers to come.

At the time the Home Insurance Building was built, few apartment and office buildings were more than five storeys tall, although there were some buildings as tall as seven or ten storeys in Amsterdam and other crowded cities in Europe.

The cheap apartments were on the higher floors, because walking up so many stairs was a chore.

But the main limiting factor on height was the weight of masonry. The taller a building was, the thicker the masonry at the base had to be. The great Cathedrals solved this problem by enclosing huge open spaces with arches and then filling the gaps between the arches with stained glass windows. Even then, buttresses had to extend out to the sides of cathedrals to distribute the weight.

This concept is fairly useless for a multi-storey building, because cathedral design cannot support floors running through the big central space that can hold any weight. The side walls of the cathedral can only hold up themselves. This is why cathedrals can be tall, but they are also mostly hollow.

So other than clock towers (mostly based on cathedral design anyway) the tallest structures in every city were always church steeples.

As fate would have it, Chicago is home to the tallest building ever built that does not have a metal skeleton:



The 17-storey Monadnock Building stands 197 feet tall, and was built in two stages between 1889 and 1893. To support the weight of the building, the walls at the base are more than six feet thick!

This is as tall as anyone ever bothered to build a load-bearing office building. (But Philly City Hall is the all-time record holder for a large masonry building)

In contrast, the 180-foot Home Insurance building had walls that were less than two feet thick from the bottom to the top. And they didn't have to be even that thick anyway. You could cover the steel skeleton with paper mache if you felt like it, since they didn't have anything to do with holding up the building.

By combining curtain walls and a steel frame with new technology such as elevators and pumps to provide water to the higher floors, the sky became the limit. Within a few years of the Home Insurance Building opening, other skyscrapers appeared in Chicago and, of course, New York City where land was so very scarce.

The first New York skyscraper in the "Chicago style" was the 16-storey (187-foot) New York Times Building of 1889.

Not to be outdone, the New York World newspaper commissioned a giant structure to dwarf the head office of its rival:




New York World Building


Location: New York City

Constructed: 1890

Height: 309 feet to the top of the dome, plus a 40-foot spire for a total of 349 feet.

Claim to Fame: With twenty storeys, the World Building had more floors than any other building... in the World. Including the spire, it was almost twice the height of the Home Insurance Building in Chicago, and from here on the tallest buildings on Earth would all be in New York City.

It should be noted however, that although it was the tallest office building, it was not the tallest structure in New York City when it was built. The 338-foot spires of St. Patrick Cathedral and the caissons of the Brooklyn Bridge were actually taller.

Still, the skyscraper had arrived.

Status: The World Building was demolished in 1955 to allow an expansion of the car ramp leading to the Brooklyn Bridge. The Home Insurance Building also no longer exists, having been demolished in 1931 to make way for a larger office building.
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Old Posted Jun 6, 2007, 8:29 AM
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There's alot missed out from the East:

the Potala Palace in Lhasa is 656 ft tall. It comprises a 384 ft high 1000 room palace on a massive 272 ft base of stone and brick dug into a hollowed hillside. Its 1180 ft long and was rebuilt in 1645



There is also a 510ft high pagoda in Chanzhou, the fabled Tianning Pagoda destroyed 5x in the last 1,350 years and rebuilt each time - once again completed last year. Nanjing also had one of 500 ft, now destroyed:




smaller pyramids disguised:





the worlds largest pyramid is also rumoured to be in Qin Lin county in a 'forbidden zone' of China, estimated at nearly 1000ft high and made of impounded earth and clay, and holding vast tombs (note the Terracotta Army tomb, that will take 80 years excavate is only one of 900 still remaining). The Chinese govt have long denied the existence of 100 or so pyramids though the increasing tourism to the Xian tombs area is threatening the secrecy with tourists climbing the 25-100m pyramids for themselves. The govt has planted trees on them to disguise them too. After outright denying their existence, the govt finally admitted to the existence to New Zealand author Bruce Caithie of some 'trapezoid tombs', however the fabled white pyramid has only ever been seen by a few Westerners this century. Heres an excerpt from a book:


satellite photos:


"I was searching for a pyramid which was said to have been, once, many millennia ago, multicolored, and to now be a dusty white. This was a pyramid which, legend has it, rises to the astonishing height of 1,000 feet - four-fifths the elevation of the Empire State Building. Not only was this extraordinary structure said to be the largest pyramid in the world (the Giant Pyramid of Egypt, by comparison, rises a mere 450 feet); but, in the valleys surrounding it, there were said to be dozens of other pyramids, some rising to an elevation almost as great.

Until recently, Chinese officials have rebuffed all questions about these pyramids and all requests to view them. And yet, over this century, a certain mythology has grown up around them. An American trader, stumbling upon these amazing structures in 1912, asked his Buddhist monk-guide about them. He was told that 5,000-year-old monastic documents not only contained informa-tion about these pyramids, but said the pyramids were extremely old when these records were made.

The trader, Fred Meyer Schroder, observed several smaller pyramids in the distance. He wrote in his travel diary that his first sight of the giant pyramid, along with its smaller cousins, rendered him almost speechless. "It was even more uncanny than if we had found it in the wilderness," he wrote. "But those [ pyra-mids) were to some extent exposed to the eyes of the world—but still totally unknown in the western world."

In the Far East in the spring of 1945, though Japanese troops were still fighting in China, the U.S. Army and its allies were well on their way to pushing the Japanese off the mainland. One day, U.S. Air Force Pilot James Gaussman was returning to Assam, in India, after having flown the ‘Burma Hump’-ferried supplies to Chungking, China, from India-when engine trouble forced him to descend temporarily to a low altitude over China. As he later wrote:

"I flew around a mountain and then we came to a valley. Directly below us was a gigantic white pyramid. It looked as if it were from a fairy tale. The pyramid was draped in shimmering white. It could have been metal, or some other form of stone. It was white on all sides. What was most curious about it was its capstone: a large piece of precious gem-like material. I was deeply moved by the colossal size of the thing."

When Gaussman arrived back in Assam, combat duties pushed the sighting from his mind. Photographs he had taken of the giant pyramid would not be published for another 45 years. Till then, even his report would be buried in the Secret Service files of the U.S. military

Two years later, in 1947, another U.S. aviator, Maurice Sheahan—this time flying over Shaanxi Province, not far from Xian-- caught sight of a giant pyramid in the misty landscape below and rapidly snapped pictures. This time, several U.S. newspapers, in-cluding the New York Times for March 28, 1947, published ac-counts of the airman’s sighting. But Chinese archaeologists con-tinued to deny the existence of such a structure, even though Sheahan’s photographs suggested it was higher than any pyramid in Egypt. "

could this be it?


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Old Posted Jun 6, 2007, 9:05 AM
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Do these structures have diagrams here? It would be awesome if they did.
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Old Posted Jun 6, 2007, 10:00 AM
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Fantastic thread, and great information on the Chinese pyramids muppet. Are they really in Xi'an? I was there but had I known I would've looked for them. I figured they were in the far western chinese desert.

There is also what was recently discovered in Bosnia and is being called the "Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun" that is absolutely astounding. Apparently it was always thought to be a mountain until someone discovered symmetries not found in nature. I don't know if either of you have heard of it or not. Here is a website all about it: www.bosnianpyramid.com

And here are a few aerial shots of it from the above website:






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Old Posted Jun 6, 2007, 11:13 AM
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more! more!
I thought this was just a hoax story I came across as I was skimming info on the Chinese pyramids. Is the last pic excavatory evidence of a structure that I think it is?

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Old Posted Jun 6, 2007, 11:24 AM
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oop, just checked it out on wikipedia, says its a hoax
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Old Posted Jun 6, 2007, 3:57 PM
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Quote:
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oop, just checked it out on wikipedia, says its a hoax
That's unfortunate, if true. It must be the most elaborate hoax in history though because there are all sorts of photos and videos (some that include the town in the background) of what appear to be excavated pathways and walls and whatnot. Hmmm. I'll have to check into this more.
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Old Posted Jun 6, 2007, 10:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BnaBreaker View Post
That's unfortunate, if true. It must be the most elaborate hoax in history though because there are all sorts of photos and videos (some that include the town in the background) of what appear to be excavated pathways and walls and whatnot. Hmmm. I'll have to check into this more.
no the excavations et al are real, its just that what theyre excavating aren't part of a huge manmade pyramid acc. to the scientists .

you can find both sides of the story here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bosnian_pyramids
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Old Posted Jun 11, 2007, 2:39 AM
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My purpse in this thread is to grasp at time past, if possible, in a fleeting way. Corrections and addenda are welcome, as always.

===

It took only 45 years for skyscraper design to go from the humble Home Insurance Building to the Chrysler Building.

If the Chrysler Building is the Marilyn Monroe of skyscrapers, here is the Humphrey Bogart:



Empire State Building

Location: New York City

Completed: 1931

Height: 1,250 feet (102 storeys)

Claim to Fame: What can I say?

If you were to search the collective unconscious for the meme "skyscraper," this is likely the building that will be standing there, bathed in floodlights.

The very name of the structure speaks power. To look upon the Empire State Building is to forget about pyramids and pharaohs, cathedrals and choirs. The Parthenon becomes so many scattered blocks placed by a child. The Pantheon but a claustrophobic box for small, petty gods.

This building says 'Yes! Man can rule his domain and accomplish anything he sets his mind to.'

It's all the triumphalism that fascists spoke of, made real in stone, steel and concrete. But where those bastards smashed, crushed and destroyed, the triumph of the Empire State Building is that it attempts to gather the forces of all that is doable and thrust it skyward.

Work began on the Empire State building in March of 1930. The Depression was just beginning, so why not build an impossibly huge building? Why indeed not.



Empire State Building in 1933 as depicted in Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong

John Jacob Raskob (formerly a vice president of GM) decided to join in the skyscraper race after Chrysler announced in 1929 that it was constructing a monumental new headquarters, the height of which was being kept a secret until the building's completion. (It's amazing how lax city building codes were in NYC in the 1930s. A developer is told how many toilets his building must have today, and here they kept their designs secret!)

Not knowing exactly what height he had to beat, Raskob started planning his own building, and bought the land occupied by the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel at 34th Street and Fifth Avenue for $16 million. The hotel was demolished and ground was broken on the new tower in January 1930. Raskob hired Shreve, Lamb & Harmon to be the architects for his new building. It is said that Raskob pulled a thick pencil out of a drawer and held it up to William Lamb and asked, "Bill, how high can you make it so that it won't fall down?"

Raskob was not going to build anything but the tallest building in New York. The logic of the design was simple. Central shafts contain elevators and vertical circulation, mail chutes, toilets and public corridors. Surrounding these utility areas is a perimeter of office space 28 feet on each side. As the tower rises, the number of these central utility shafts is reduced. The Empire State Building is like a pyramid of utility space surrounded by a larger pyramid of office space. From the beginning, each "standard" storey was planned to be roughly 12 feet high, and the lobby on the ground floor would be three storeys tall. But how many storeys would it be altogether?

"We thought we would be the tallest at 80 stories. Then the Chrysler went higher, so we lifted the Empire State to 85 stories, but only four feet taller than the Chrysler. Raskob was worried that Walter Chrysler would pull a trick - like hiding a rod in the spire and then sticking it up at the last minute."

— Hamilton Weber, manager of the Empire State Building in 1931

At 80 storeys the Empire State would have been 990 feet tall. This would have beaten 40 Wall Street, but not the Chrysler Building, because history teaches us that Mr. Chrysler did have a trick up his sleeve.

At 85 storeys, the building would have stood 1,050 feet.

Not good enough. The cheese-eating surrender monkeys had a tower 1,063 feet tall (if you include the antenna), so why stop just 13 feet short of being the worlds tallest structure?

In the end, Raskob himself came up with the solution. After examining a scale model of the proposed building— the top of which (the 86th floor) was essentially a flat roof to accommodate an observation deck — Raskob said, "It needs a hat!"

Looking toward the future, Raskob imagined the Empire State Building could function as an airport for dirigibles. The tower was redesigned with a 17-storey airport terminal building complete with a "mooring mast," customs facilities, baggage claim areas and offices for airlines. This structure started at the 86th floor roof and extended the building to 102 storeys and 1,250 feet including the mooring mast. The idea was that passengers would disembark from airships and then take the elevator to the ground and be in Midtown Manhattan rather than landing out in New Jersey.



Construction of the Empire State Building began on St. Patrick's Day in 1930. Some 3,400 construction workers feverishly worked the site, sometimes adding several floors in one day. The Empire State Building was officially opened on May 1, 1931.



The Hindenberg flies past the Empie State Building on its way to Lakehurst, New Jersey on 1936

Status: The Empire State Building instantly became an icon of New York City, taking its place alongside the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty.



The Empire State Building was only two years old when it received its most famous visitor

As for the airport concept, only once did an airship dock at the mooring mast. In September 1931, a small dirigible made contact with the top of the Empire State Building. Dropping a long rope, a ground crew of three were able to catch the rope and hold onto it after struggling for half an hour. The dirigible was only able to stay moored for three minutes due to high winds created by the concrete canyons of Manhattan. The idea of having an airport at the top of the building was abandoned.

The sheer size of the Empire State Building compared to its closest rivals is apparent in the comparison chart I've prepared. It is just about as big as you can make a building while preserving the elegant lines of a classic facade. Raskob didn't just build the tallest building on Earth, he built the two tallest buildings on Earth and just 'forgot' to put a street between them. The Eiffel Tower suddenly doesn't look so massive anymore, does it?



The Big Five of 1931: Empire State Building, Eiffel Tower, Chrysler Building, Manhattan Trust Building (40 Wall Street) and the Woolworth Building


In fact, the building is larger than the Chrysler Building and 40 Wall Street combined. Being so huge, the Empire State Building had a hard time getting tenants in the Great Depression years, and earned the nickname "Empty State Building." The Building was not filled until the 1940s.

In July 1945 a B-25 bomber flying in thick fog accidentally crashed into the north side of the building between the 79th and 80th floors. One engine shot clear through the building opposite and another fell down an elevator shaft; 14 people were killed in the accident.



Manhattan at dusk, with the Empire State Building and the Chrysler building illuminated together
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Old Posted Jun 11, 2007, 2:49 AM
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The Lost Decades

It may seem odd that the most massive buildings ever created opened just in time for the Great Depression.

Thing is, few people in 1929 and 1930 thought that the Depression was going to go as deep, or last as long as it did. Many believed the worst had passed in 1930 and early 1931. Between 1930 and 1933, Cleveland built the 771-foot Terminal Tower (tallest building outside New York), and in New York City the 952-foot American International opened in 1932 and the 850-foot General Electric Building opened in 1933 — pushing the Woolworth Building from first place in NYC in early 1930 to sixth just three years later.

But it became clear in 1933 that the good times of the 1920s boom were not returning anytime soon. Office vacancy rates shot up as companies let go of workers or went bankrupt altogether. Architects and engineers planned new towers, some of which if they had been built would have rivaled or surpassed the Empire State Building.

Very few new buildings of any size where built in the Western World after 1933, and then World War II intervened as well.

The Woolworth Building held the title of World's tallest skyscraper for 17 years. The Empire State Building safely cruised the 30s, 40s and the 1950s without much risk of being surpassed.

Meanwhile, many of the great cathedrals of Europe were damaged (and some were destroyed) during the Second World War. So not only was construction of the "new" skyscrapers largely halted, but the historic tall buildings of the Middle Ages were in rough shape too.



The five tallest structures completed between 1932 and 1960.

The 1,092-foot Tokyo Tower was completed in 1958, the GE Building opened in 1933, the American International Building opened in 1932, the JP Morgan Chase Building opened in 1960 and the Bank of New York was finished in 1932.

If that list seems short, think how short it would be if I hadn't made the time period 28 years!
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Old Posted Jun 6, 2007, 4:11 PM
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What a fantastic thread!
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Old Posted Jun 6, 2007, 5:11 PM
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"Detroit boasted the 664-foot Penobscot Building, which was the tallest building outside of New York City when it opened in 1928. Columbus, Ohio had the 555-foot Leveque Building. The 496-foot-tall Custom House Tower was built in Boston, Massachusetts, and the tallest building in the British Empire was opened in 1930 in Toronto – the 476-foot Commerce Court North."

One big omission in the above quote... In 1930, Cleveland's Union Terminal Tower (now simply "The Terminal Tower") became the tallest building in the world outside of NYC at 708 feet/216m. It held that title until the Lomonosov University building was constructed in Moscow in 1953. It was the tallest in the States outside of NYC until 1967 when Boston's Prudential Center was constructed.

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Old Posted Jun 6, 2007, 8:35 PM
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Indeed. I neglected to mention the Terminal Building. My entries are very chronological, and thus far the only sidebar stops I've made were providing some back story on Philadelphia's City Hall and some early skyscrapers that were shorter than Cathedrals. The Terminal Building got lost in the shuffle. My Bad. This is why input from people familiar with historic structures is essential.

==

At this juncture it might behoove me to mention that height alone is not the deciding factor in determining the significance of these structures.

Nobody cares if one cathedral is ten feet taller than another. The Home Insurance Building was never the biggest, or the most beautiful. The story of 40 Wall Street is a case in point. Nobody visits it if they don't work there, and nobody has written a poem about it or cast it in a film. When Donald trump changed its name, few noticed or cared.

A few of the structures on this list are icons, however. The Great Pyramid is one. So is the Cathedral of Notre Dame, and the Eiffel Tower. I could include the Leaning Tower of Pisa, "Big Ben," the Brooklyn Bridge, the Sydney Opera House and many others.

For me, the Singer Building was a lovely building, perhaps the only 600-foot structure in history that I'd describe as pretty or adorable. It saddens me that I'll never be able to visit it.

The next structure, however, is my favourite building of all time.



Chrysler Building

Location: New York City

Completed: 1930

Height: 1,046 feet to the spire (77 storeys)

Claim to Fame: 40 Wall Street was 135 feet taller than the Woolworth Building, and indeed it was designed to be two feet taller than automobile tycoon Walter Chrysler's proposed new headquarters.

However, the designers of the Chrysler Building quietly changed the projected height of their building after 40 Wall Street neared completion in April 1930.

A 125-foot spire was covertly assembled in the building's crown in strict secrecy. Overnight on May 27, 1930 this spire was welded together hoisted into place, and the Chrysler Building was the tallest office building in the world when the sun rose over the East River.

The roof of the 77th floor is 925 feet above the sidewalk below, making it technically shorter than 40 Wall Street by that measure. The spire, however, is not some "tacked-on" addition, but rather a work of art in its own right, resembling an engine grill or a old-style radio depending on your view, and is an integral part of the overall design. The antenna on top of the Eiffel Tower is only 17 feet higher, and it is not much more than a flag pole.

But the Chrysler Building has much more than height going for it. It has class, and opulence. The level of detail and attention that went into its design are phenomenal. The building is an Art Deco masterpiece.



The corners of the 61st floors feature eagles that are giant replicas of 1929 Chrysler hood ornaments. Corner ornamentation at the 31st-floor level are replicas of Chrysler radiator caps. This building celebrates industry and modernity with no apologies.

It is perfect.



^The main lobby



^the inside of an elevator

Status: Taller buildings have been built since, but none is as sexy as the Chrysler Building. If you disagree, look deep into yourself and try to find out why you are so wrong.

In 2005, the Skyscraper Museum asked one hundred architects, builders, critics, engineers, historians and scholars to choose their 10 favorite buildings.

90% of them placed the Chrysler Building in their top 10. The other 10% probably needed somebody else to fill out the questionnaire for them.
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Old Posted Jun 11, 2007, 2:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nunavuter View Post
Hello.

I'm rather new to posting to the Skyscraper Page, although I have been a visitor for about six years. Shame on me.
WOW.....now we know what you have been doing for six years. Do you have a publisher yet?
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  #20  
Old Posted Jun 11, 2007, 7:44 PM
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"The Empire State Building was officially opened on May 1, 1931."

Yep, on May Day!

Fyi, the Terminal Tower is 708 feet; the 63-foot flagpole isn't usually included in the official height.
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