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The Manhattan skyline is one of the great wonders of the modern world. But how and why did it form? Much has been written about the city's architecture and its general history, but little work has explored the economic forces that created the skyline. In Building the Skyline, Jason Barr chronicles the economic history of the Manhattan skyline. In the process, he debunks some widely held misconceptions about the city's history. Starting with Manhattan's natural and geological history, Barr moves on to how these formations influenced early land use and the development of neighborhoods, including the dense tenement neighborhoods of Five Points and the Lower East Side, and how these early decisions eventually impacted the location of skyscrapers built during the Skyscraper Revolution at the end of the 19th century. Barr then explores the economic history of skyscrapers and the skyline, investigating the reasons for their heights, frequencies, locations, and shapes. He discusses why skyscrapers emerged downtown and why they appeared three miles to the north in midtown-but not in between the two areas. Contrary to popular belief, this was not due to the depths of Manhattan's bedrock, nor the presence of Grand Central Station. Rather, midtown's emergence was a response to the economic and demographic forces that were taking place north of 14th Street after the Civil War. Building the Skyline also presents the first rigorous investigation of the causes of the building boom during the Roaring Twenties. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the boom was largely a rational response to the economic growth of the nation and city. The last chapter investigates the value of Manhattan Island and the relationship between skyscrapers and land prices. Finally, an Epilogue offers policy recommendations for a resilient and robust future skyline.
The Manhattan skyline is one of the great wonders of the modern world. But how and why did it form? Much has been written about the city's architecture and its general history, but little work has explored the economic forces that created the skyline. In Building the Skyline, Jason Barr chronicles the economic history of the Manhattan skyline. In the process, he debunks some widely held misconceptions about the city's history. Starting with Manhattan's natural and geological history, Barr moves on to how these formations influenced early land use and the development of neighborhoods, including the dense tenement neighborhoods of Five Points and the Lower East Side, and how these early decisions eventually impacted the location of skyscrapers built during the Skyscraper Revolution at the end of the 19th century. Barr then explores the economic history of skyscrapers and the skyline, investigating the reasons for their heights, frequencies, locations, and shapes. He discusses why skyscrapers emerged downtown and why they appeared three miles to the north in midtown-but not in between the two areas. Contrary to popular belief, this was not due to the depths of Manhattan's bedrock, nor the presence of Grand Central Station. Rather, midtown's emergence was a response to the economic and demographic forces that were taking place north of 14th Street after the Civil War. Building the Skyline also presents the first rigorous investigation of the causes of the building boom during the Roaring Twenties. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the boom was largely a rational response to the economic growth of the nation and city. The last chapter investigates the value of Manhattan Island and the relationship between skyscrapers and land prices. Finally, an Epilogue offers policy recommendations for a resilient and robust future skyline.
The Manhattan skyline is one of the great wonders of the modern world. But how and why did it form? Much has been written about the city's architecture and its general history, but little work has explored the economic forces that created the skyline. This book chronicles the economic historyof the Manhattan skyline. In the process, the book debunks some widely-held misconceptions about the city's history. Part I lays out the historical and environmental background that established Manhattan's real estate trajectory before the Skyscraper Revolution at the end of the 19th century. Thebook begins with Manhattan's natural and geological history and then moves on to how it influenced early land use and neighborhood formation, and how these early decisions eventually impacted the location of skyscrapers. Part II focuses specifically on the economic history of skyscrapers and theskyline, investigating the reasons for their heights, frequencies, locations, and shapes. The book discusses why skyscrapers emerged downtown and why they appeared three miles to the north in midtown, but not in between. Contrary to popular belief it was not due to the depths of Manhattan's bedrock,nor the presence of Grand Central Station. Rather midtown's emergence was a response to the economic and demographic forces that were taking place north of 14th Street after the Civil War. The book also presents the first rigorous investigation of the causes of the building boom during the Roaring Twenties. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the boom was largely a rational response to the economic growth of the nation and city. The last chapter investigates the value of Manhattan Islandand the relationship between skyscrapers and land prices. Finally, an Epilogue offers policy recommendations for a resilient and robust future skyline.
An award-winning historian surveys the astonishing cast of characters who helped turn Manhattan into the world capital of commerce, communication and entertainment --
Although fundamental factors of program, technology, and economics make tall buildings everywhere take similar forms, skyscrapers in New York and Chicago developed very differently in the first half of the twentieth century. In contrast to standard histories that counterpose the design philosophies of the Chicago and New York "schools," Willis shows how market formulas produced characteristic forms in each city"vernaculars of capitalism"that resulted from local land-use patterns, municipal codes, and zoning. Refuting some common clichs of skyscraper history such as the equation of big buildings with big business and the idea of a "corporate skyline," Willis emphasizes the importance of speculative development and the impact of real-estate cycles on the forms of buildings and on their spatial distribution. Form Follows Finance cautions that the city must be understood as a complex commercial environment where buildings are themselves businesses, space is a commodity, and location and image have value.
"An excellent text for students and researchers to better understand the often unique and always complex set of issues and actors that initiated, implemented, or thwarted urban planning efforts in New York City." -- Journal of Planning Education and Research
A powerful first-hand account of the many generations and ethnic groups of men who have built America's skyscrapers. From the early days of steel construction in Chicago, through the great boom years of New York city ironwork, and up through the present, High Steel follows the trajectory of careers inextricably linked to both great accomplishment and catastrophic disaster. The personal stories reveal the lives of ironworkers and the dangers they face as they walk across the windswept, swaying summits of tomorrow's skyscrapers, balanced on steel girders sometimes only six inches wide. Rasenberger explores both the greatest accomplishments of ironwork—the vaulting bridges and towers that define America's skyline—and the deadliest disasters, such as the Quebec Bridge Collapse of 1907, when 75 ironworkers, including 33 Mohawk Indians, fell to their deaths. High Steel is an accessible, thrilling, and vertiginous portrait of the lives of some of our most brave yet unrecognized men.

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