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Old 06-28-2019, 01:24 AM
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Empire State Building question


This photo claims to be taken in 1941. Has it been altered or doctored in any way? I donít necessarily think it has been but it seems strange that itís almost one lone tall building with no other skyscrapers around.

I guess I just always assumed there was a natural progression of taller and taller buildings til someone said, fuck it, I'm building the tallest one.

Link-o-Rama: https://www.flickr.com/photos/michae...on/43204634412

ETA: I had not read the comments when I posted this. Still Iíll ask...
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Old 06-28-2019, 01:55 AM
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The Empire State Building still stands out:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empire_State_Building

The Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building are the only buildings in New York which were ever the tallest buildings in the world:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...and_structures

Here's some information about the tallest buildings in New York:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o..._New_York_City
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Old 06-28-2019, 04:18 AM
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I don't think it has been altered, but the picture in the OP is a bit deceiving since it was taken at a distance with a hill in between. You're missing about a quarter of the bottom of the building and you are missing all of the surrounding buildings.

The Empire State Building was significantly taller than its neighbors back then.

You can compare it with the pictures on this page:
https://apimagesblog.com/blog/2016/0...lding-turns-85
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Old 06-28-2019, 05:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner View Post
The Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building are the only buildings in New York which were ever the tallest buildings in the world:
No. The World Trade Center was tallest when it was completed in 1972, until 1974 when the Chicago Sears Tower (Willis Tower) was completed.

Quote:
At the time of their completion, the Twin Towers — the original 1 World Trade Center, at 1,368 feet (417 m); and 2 World Trade Center, at 1,362 feet (415.1 m)—were the tallest buildings in the world.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_...3%E2%80%932001)

Even your linked-to page states,
Quote:
... until it was surpassed by the Empire State Building’s 1,250 feet (380 meters) in 1931. That was in turn surpassed by the 1,368-foot-high (417 m) twin towers of New York’s original World Trade Center in 1972, which were in turn surpassed by the Sears Tower in Chicago in 1974.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...and_structures
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Old 06-28-2019, 06:45 AM
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This part of the article says that the Empire State Building was the tallest structure from 1931 to 1967, when it was passed by the Ostankino Tower in Moscow, which was the tallest structure until 1975, when it was passed by the CN Tower in Toronto, which was the tallest structure until 2007, when it was passed by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...ctures#History

It's not clear what's a building and what's just a structure.
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Old 06-28-2019, 06:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner View Post
The Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building are the only buildings in New York which were ever the tallest buildings in the world:
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Originally Posted by Bullitt View Post
No. The World Trade Center was tallest when it was completed in 1972, until 1974 when the Chicago Sears Tower (Willis Tower) was completed.
Both of these statements are correct.

Wendell's statement refers to the present, and the WTC no longer exists. If it had said, "were the only buildings in New York", it would have been incorrect.

ETA: what Wendell said.
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Old 06-28-2019, 07:12 AM
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The photo was taken not long before it was struck by a  B-25 Mitchell bomber.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/1945...ing_B-25_crash
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Old 06-28-2019, 07:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner View Post
This part of the article says that the Empire State Building was the tallest structure from 1931 to 1967, when it was passed by the Ostankino Tower in Moscow, which was the tallest structure until 1975, when it was passed by the CN Tower in Toronto, which was the tallest structure until 2007, when it was passed by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...ctures#History

It's not clear what's a building and what's just a structure.
Gotcha, and thanks. I was a kid growing up in Upstate New York and on the news I distinctly remember them saying the WTC is now the tallest building in the world, having surpassed the Empire State Building. But did they say building? Or structure? I don’t recall. So yeah, building, versus structure. And who knows how those are defined.
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Old 06-28-2019, 07:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner View Post
The Empire State Building still stands out:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empire_State_Building

The Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building are the only buildings in New York which were ever the tallest buildings in the world:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...and_structures

Here's some information about the tallest buildings in New York:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o..._New_York_City
The Woolworth Building was the tallest building in the world when it was erected in 1913, according to a different entry in Wikipedia. It was in New York City at 233 Broadway

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woolworth_Building

Your "list of tallest buildings" has the Eiffel Tower holding the record at that time, and at 986 feet it exceeded the height of the Woolworth at 792 feet, but there's that whole argument about "building" vs. "structure". Myself, I'd class the Eiffel tower along with things like giant antennae as a "structure" and call the Woolworth a "Building".
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Last edited by CalMeacham; 06-28-2019 at 07:49 AM.
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Old 06-28-2019, 08:18 AM
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So yeah, building, versus structure. And who knows how those are defined.
Here you go
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Old 06-28-2019, 11:28 AM
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Another term that makes "tallest" harder to pin down is "free standing". So that rules out a lot of antennas, for example. The CN Tower people liked to mention the "free standing" bit.
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Old 06-28-2019, 11:44 AM
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Here's an aerial view of Manhattan, reportedly from 1938, with the Empire State Building visible in the distance.
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Old 06-28-2019, 11:44 AM
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At the time, most of New York's skyscrapers were in the Wall St. area at the southern tip of Manhattan or in the newer favored area around Times Square.

The Empire State was at 34th St., not a prime office building spot. It was chosen partly to replace the Waldorf-Astoria hotel and partly because it would stand out from the surrounding lower buildings.

Here's a shot that gives a better view of the neighborhood. Those "small" towers would make a good downtown in almost any other city in 1931.

There wasn't any good reason then, or even before the Depression, to build thousand-foot office buildings. They weren't needed and gave poor returns on their investment. The Depression made it worse. The Empire State was nicknamed the "Empty State Building" because it was mostly empty for a decade. Those other buildings were built at the proper heights for investment. Anything else was purely for showing off.
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Old 06-28-2019, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
At the time, most of New York's skyscrapers were in the Wall St. area at the southern tip of Manhattan or in the newer favored area around Times Square.

The Empire State was at 34th St., not a prime office building spot. It was chosen partly to replace the Waldorf-Astoria hotel and partly because it would stand out from the surrounding lower buildings.

Here's a shot that gives a better view of the neighborhood. Those "small" towers would make a good downtown in almost any other city in 1931.

There wasn't any good reason then, or even before the Depression, to build thousand-foot office buildings. They weren't needed and gave poor returns on their investment. The Depression made it worse. The Empire State was nicknamed the "Empty State Building" because it was mostly empty for a decade. Those other buildings were built at the proper heights for investment. Anything else was purely for showing off.
the Empire State Building was definitely a case of Showing Off. It was originally not intended to have that big spire on the top. But then the Chrysler Building started going up, and would have been taller than the Empire State Building as planned. So they redesigned the top so that they'd be taller.

I like that they originally said that the top would be used as a mooring mast for zeppelins. the mind boggles at trying to not only moor to that tiny fixed point amid the contrary winds and updrafts of midtown Manhattan, but also of people trying to walk down any sort of ramp, no matter how protected, under the same circumstances. One of the things I love about the movie Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is that it actually depicts (using CGI, of course) people "de-zeppelining" from one as it's moored at the top of the Empire State Building

https://skycaptainsarmyforhire.fando...Hindenburg_III

https://gawker.com/5004308/a-zeppeli...state-building

They later put aerials up there, of course, which was not only a more reasonable use of that real estate, but also added more to the overall height.






When I was a kid I took the bus into New York via the Lincoln Tunnel. Your actual view of the city is blocked by big rocky cliffs until just before you spiral down into the Tunnel, but on your approach the rock suddenly drops away and you are treated to an unobstructed close-up view of Manhattan on the other side of the Hudson, and it's breathtaking. You could see all the tall buildings down at the Battery, near Wall Street, then a long drought of tall buildings as you moved north through Manhattan, and then suddenly the Empire State Building, the Chrysler, and the other buildings of Midtown. There are more buildings there today than when I was a kid, and the ESB is no longer as much of a standout as it was then, but it still stands tallest among the buildings in Midtown Manhattan.
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Old 06-28-2019, 12:53 PM
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Evidently a dirigible DID dock there once, briefly. But nobody got on or off:

http://www.charlesfake.com/2014/09/1...rt_in_the_sky/
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September 16, 2014 (Tuesday)

On this date in 1931 a dirigible docked atop the new Empire State Building for three minutes. That was the only time that ever happened. But promises had been made that dirigibles would make regular stops at that location, and passengers would disembark on a gangplank a quarter mile above the streets of New York. For a number of reasons, that promise went unfulfilled and faded into the world of dreams long since past. It turns out that docking a giant blimp to a building over 1,000 feet tall is nearly impossible; the winds at that height are too strong.
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Old 06-28-2019, 01:03 PM
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Empire State Building before they added the spire:

https://www.google.com/search?biw=14...=1561744891515

https://www.google.com/search?biw=14...=1561744891518
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Old 06-28-2019, 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
You could see all the tall buildings down at the Battery, near Wall Street, then a long drought of tall buildings as you moved north through Manhattan, and then suddenly the Empire State Building, the Chrysler, and the other buildings of Midtown.
It's interesting how the geography of tall buildings in Manhattan reveals the underlying geology of the island. The bedrock in Lower Manhattan and Midtown is closer to the surface and thus more suitable for skyscraper construction. That gap represents an area where the bedrock is deeper.
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Old 06-28-2019, 03:12 PM
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the Empire State Building was definitely a case of Showing Off. It was originally not intended to have that big spire on the top. But then the Chrysler Building started going up, and would have been taller than the Empire State Building as planned. So they redesigned the top so that they'd be taller.
The Chrysler Building did it first. The now-famous spire was added at the last minute to be taller than 40 Wall St.
Quote:
The same year that the Chrysler Building's construction started, banker George L. Ohrstrom proposed the construction of a 47-story office building at 40 Wall Street downtown. Shortly thereafter Ohrstrom modified his project to have 60 floors, but it was still below Woolworth and the 808-foot Chrysler Building project as announced in 1928.[57] H. Craig Severance, Van Alen's former partner and the architect of 40 Wall Street, increased 40 Wall's height to 840 feet (260 m) with 62 floors in April of that year. It would thus exceed the Woolworth's height by 48 feet (15 m) and the Chrysler's by 32 feet (9.8 m).[57] 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler Building started competing for the distinction of "world's tallest building".[69][70] The Empire State Building, on 34th Street and Fifth Avenue, entered the competition in 1929. The "Race into the Sky", as popular media called it at the time, was representative of the country's optimism in the 1920s, which helped fuel the building boom in major cities.[71] The 40 Wall Street tower was revised from 840 feet (260 m) to 925 feet in April 1929, which would make it the world's tallest.[72] Severance increased the height of his project and then publicly claimed the title of the world's tallest building.[73] Construction of 40 Wall Street began in May 1929 at a frantic pace, and it was completed twelve months later.[57]

In response, Van Alen obtained permission for a 125-foot-long (38 m) spire[74][75] and had it secretly constructed inside the frame of his building.[72] The spire was delivered to the site in four different sections.[74] On October 23, 1929, one week after surpassing the Woolworth Building's height and one day before the catastrophic Wall Street Crash of 1929 started, the spire was assembled. According to one account, "the bottom section of the spire was hoisted to the top of the building's dome and lowered into the 66th floor of the building."[57] Then, within 90 minutes the rest of the spire's pieces were raised and riveted in sequence,[76] helping raise the tower's height to 1,046 feet.[77][78] Van Alen, who witnessed the process from the street along with its engineers and Walter Chrysler,[77] compared the experience to watching a butterfly leaving its cocoon.[78]
What the Empire State Building did was add five stories to the building proper to raise its height, along with the mooring mast (not a spire).
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Old 06-28-2019, 05:51 PM
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What the Empire State Building did was add five stories to the building proper to raise its height, along with the mooring mast (not a spire).
Thatg spire is a lot more than the mooring mast.
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Old 06-28-2019, 06:52 PM
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the Empire State Building was definitely a case of Showing Off. It was originally not intended to have that big spire on the top. But then the Chrysler Building started going up, and would have been taller than the Empire State Building as planned. So they redesigned the top so that they'd be taller.

I like that they originally said that the top would be used as a mooring mast for zeppelins. the mind boggles at trying to not only moor to that tiny fixed point amid the contrary winds and updrafts of midtown Manhattan
Without many other tall buildings around it when it was built, you wouldn't get nearly the amount of updrafts that you would in today's higher city. Also, while winds aloft are typically higher than at ground level; they were virtually the same at 1000' earlier today as they were at ground level at the three major commercial airports serving the NY metro area, EWR, JFK, & LGA; all below 10mph.






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When I was a kid I took the bus into New York via the Lincoln Tunnel. Your actual view of the city is blocked by big rocky cliffs until just before you spiral down into the Tunnel, but on your approach the rock suddenly drops away and you are treated to an unobstructed close-up view of Manhattan on the other side of the Hudson, and it's breathtaking. You could see all the tall buildings down at the Battery, near Wall Street, then a long drought of tall buildings as you moved north through Manhattan, and then suddenly the Empire State Building, the Chrysler, and the other buildings of Midtown. There are more buildings there today than when I was a kid, and the ESB is no longer as much of a standout as it was then, but it still stands tallest among the buildings in Midtown Manhattan.
That view is gone. Hudson Yards not only blocks the view of the ESB but 30 HY has both higher occupied & architectural heights.
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Old 06-29-2019, 12:15 AM
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It has height categories but not definitions for building vs structure.
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Old 06-29-2019, 01:40 PM
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The Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building are the only buildings in New York which were ever the tallest buildings in the world:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...and_structures
Besides the fact you said 'building', that wiki article's convention of mixing in stuff like the Eiffel Tower and CN Tower is really not standard anyway. When people say tallest building they generally mean *building*.

The other debate in the early days of skyscrapers was whether tall cathedrals' spires counted as taller.

But the among NY buildings the Park Row Building (1898-1909), Singer (1908-09, only one which no longer exists), Met Life (1909-1913), Woolworth (1913-1930), 40 Wall Street (a few months in 1930), Chrysler (1930-31), Empire State (1931-71) and original WTC were tallest in the world.

In case of the Park Row Building that would be excluding the spire on the rotunda of the Mole Antonelliana museum in Turin, besides definite non-buildings like the Eiffel Tower.
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Old 06-29-2019, 02:08 PM
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Define "building".
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Old 06-29-2019, 02:23 PM
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I think the idea is that in a "building", most of the vertical height is taken up by human-occupiable floors. The CN Tower, by contrast, has nothing but spire and elevators for most of its height before the pod near the top, and the Eiffel Tower has only three floors.

I do wonder, if a Space Elevator ever gets built... It'd certainly be "tallest", but would it be counted as "free-standing"?
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Old 06-29-2019, 04:33 PM
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Define "building".
The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat already has that covered.
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Old 06-29-2019, 06:34 PM
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Actually, that entry defines "height" but not "building". This entry defines "building" as at least 50% of its height is habitable floors. It says that anything else is a tower:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...and_structures
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Old 06-29-2019, 09:09 PM
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I didn't mean to suggest that the Wikipedia entry was the be-all and end-all. I was pointing to the existence of an organization dedicated to the question and acknowledged to be the arbiter of arguments, and therefore had long ago grappled with the problem and proffered workable solutions to it.
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Old 06-29-2019, 11:31 PM
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Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
Your "list of tallest buildings" has the Eiffel Tower holding the record at that time, and at 986 feet it exceeded the height of the Woolworth at 792 feet, but there's that whole argument about "building" vs. "structure". Myself, I'd class the Eiffel tower along with things like giant antennae as a "structure" and call the Woolworth a "Building".
No, the Eiffel Tower includes an apartment near the top, so it would count as being occupied.

But since most of the height is unoccupied floors, it is counted as a tower (like in its name) rather than a building.
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Old 06-30-2019, 08:08 AM
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IThe CN Tower, by contrast, has nothing but spire and elevators for most of its height before the pod near the top, ...
Just to make clear to others, the "pod" mentioned here isn't the easily seen observation deck that's about 60% up the building. The "SkyPod" is just below the metal antenna much further up and doesn't bulge out so much like the observation deck.

I presume there's still an extra charge to go from the observation deck to the pod.

(And for some strange reason there's a "CN Tower" in Edmonton that's just an office building.)
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Old 06-30-2019, 08:19 AM
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IThe CN Tower, by contrast, has nothing but spire and elevators for most of its height before the pod near the top, ...
Just to make clear to others, the "pod" mentioned here isn't the easily seen observation deck that's about 60% up the building. The "SkyPod" is just below the metal antenna much further up and doesn't bulge out so much like the observation deck.

I presume there's still an extra charge to go from the observation deck to the pod.

(And for some strange reason there's a "CN Tower" in Edmonton that's just an office building.)
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Old 06-30-2019, 08:35 AM
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And for some strange reason there's a "CN Tower" in Edmonton that's just an office building.
They have the same name for the same reason. CN developed both buildings on railway land.

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 06-30-2019 at 08:35 AM.
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Old 06-30-2019, 11:58 AM
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So, server problems lead to double posts if you're not paying attention.

Let's be careful out there.
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Old 06-30-2019, 03:02 PM
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Actually, ftg, I didn't know that, and was referring to the big, easily-visible bulge.

It's still mostly just spire and elevators, though.
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Old 06-30-2019, 06:10 PM
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This photo claims to be taken in 1941. Has it been altered or doctored in any way? I donít necessarily think it has been but it seems strange that itís almost one lone tall building with no other skyscrapers around.

I guess I just always assumed there was a natural progression of taller and taller buildings til someone said, fuck it, I'm building the tallest one.

Link-o-Rama: https://www.flickr.com/photos/michae...on/43204634412

ETA: I had not read the comments when I posted this. Still Iíll ask...
I suspect it was taken from New Jersey, since Long Island City was probably more built up back then, and if it was taken from Queens you'd see the Chrysler building on the right. Taken from NJ it could be cropped (in camera) to keep the Chrysler building out of the picture.
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Old 06-30-2019, 06:15 PM
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When I was a kid I took the bus into New York via the Lincoln Tunnel. Your actual view of the city is blocked by big rocky cliffs until just before you spiral down into the Tunnel, but on your approach the rock suddenly drops away and you are treated to an unobstructed close-up view of Manhattan on the other side of the Hudson, and it's breathtaking. You could see all the tall buildings down at the Battery, near Wall Street, then a long drought of tall buildings as you moved north through Manhattan, and then suddenly the Empire State Building, the Chrysler, and the other buildings of Midtown. There are more buildings there today than when I was a kid, and the ESB is no longer as much of a standout as it was then, but it still stands tallest among the buildings in Midtown Manhattan.
If you want a real blast, take a cruise ship down the Hudson. We took the QE2 in 1980, and you are high enough to see right across the island.
Supposedly Fritz Lang got the inspiration from Metropolis from doing this, and I believe it.
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Old 06-30-2019, 06:22 PM
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This photo claims to be taken in 1941. Has it been altered or doctored in any way? I donít necessarily think it has been but it seems strange that itís almost one lone tall building with no other skyscrapers around...
This is likely a result of telephoto compression coupled with a narrow viewing angle and a precisely selected location. Other photos like this exist: https://image.invaluable.com/housePh...-L00197829.jpg

This is the same technique that makes a photo of the moon look large relative to foreground objects: http://www.spaceweather.com/swpod201...o-Bellido1.jpg

Discussion ("An Introduction to Telephoto Compression"): https://www.nephotographyguild.com/2...o-compression/
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Old 07-01-2019, 08:39 PM
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the photo looks fake to me.
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Old 07-02-2019, 12:00 AM
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the photo looks fake to me.
Well thatís a convincing argument.
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Old 07-02-2019, 09:58 AM
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Hey, wasn't Dana Scully the skeptical one? Supposedly.
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Old 07-02-2019, 11:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
It's interesting how the geography of tall buildings in Manhattan reveals the underlying geology of the island. The bedrock in Lower Manhattan and Midtown is closer to the surface and thus more suitable for skyscraper construction. That gap represents an area where the bedrock is deeper.
An urban myth.
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Old 07-02-2019, 11:45 PM
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I love the Empire State Building. Just an amazing piece of architectural history, as is the Chrysler Building of course.
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Old 07-02-2019, 11:57 PM
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I don't find that terribly convincing regarding the present distribution of very tall buildings. You do note that the study only included the period 1890-1915? It doesn't address the construction of buildings as tall as the Chrysler or the Empire State, which came much later.
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Old 07-03-2019, 07:08 AM
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I find that his opinion is not convincing. Certainly not enough to support a flat out declaration that the other view is an urban myth.
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Old 07-03-2019, 11:23 AM
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The depth of the underpinning is proportional to the height of the building. Very tall buildings need massive foundations. Digging them for the Empire State Building was hugely expensive. "Two twelve-hour shifts, consisting of 300 men each, worked continuously to dig the 55-foot (17 m) foundation." Even so they took two months to finish.

Like the others, I'm not believing that the paper's findings can be extended past the period of relatively low skyscrapers to the super-tall period.

You'd also think that if location were the only criterion, the "valley" between midtown and downtown would have filled in more over 100 years. It's stayed relatively low in height despite the tremendous increase in land costs.

The 1915 cutoff also has another huge flaw, caught by architecture critic Paul Goldberger.

Quote:
Nowhere in this article does anyone talk about Grand Central Terminal and the fact that in the late 19th century pre-electric trains were banned south of 42nd Street, which is why GCT was built there, and why the midtown district developed around there. Lower Manhattan is a product of history; midtown a product of transportation access. When GCT was electrified and rebuilt in 1913, then midtownís growth, relatively modest up to that point, truly exploded.
Goldberger agrees that location was the primary driver, but reminds us that he's talking about a different period, the one one following Barr's.

Barr later wrote a major book, Building the Skyline: The Birth and Growth of Manhattan's Skyscrapers. I haven't read it and it's not in my library system, but I hope that he expands on his studies to cover the last century.
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Old 07-03-2019, 11:39 PM
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I think Barr and colleagues focused on pre-1915 buildings because that was an era when foundation costs might still have made a difference regarding location or whether to go taller. There weren't yet zoning controls that would taint a pure regression analysis.

For modern steel buildings on a few caisson foundations drilled to bedrock, it's a much smaller part of the pro forma, and in Chicago—built on a marsh—any building over 12 stories will have such foundations. For a 40-story building, the extra cost of drilling 16 or 20 caissons to -100 rather than -30 is not much more than rounding error.
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Old 07-06-2019, 10:49 PM
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Not much to add, except to strongly recommend this David Macaulay book, about the fictional disassembly of the Empire State Building - striking illustrations, and lots of good stuff about how the ESB was built in the first place: https://www.amazon.com/Unbuilding-Sa...s=books&sr=1-1
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