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The height race in 1930s’ New York City

Columbus

After the American engineers had learnt to construct tall buildings, there launched out a real race of skyscrapers in 1920-1930s’ New York. Quite a number of gigantic buildings were being built simultaneously in Manhattan. Yet every owner kept the ultimate parameters secret and strived for his very building being the highest, not only in New York, but in the whole world. The best masters of Art Deco – the most popular style of the time – were engaged in the designing. But, unfortunately, this contest was stopped – quite abruptly and sharply – by the Great Depression, and the vast areas that were under construction began to get empty and useless. So what legendary skyscrapers were erected in time in New York in the middle of the 1930s?

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1

New York, United States of America

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The building, which bears its name after one of the nicknames for the state of New York – “the Empire State”, was constructed in April 1931. The roof of the 102-story skyscraper is at the level of 381 meters, and its height together with the antenna runs up to 443 meters. This giant became the absolute winner of “the race of skyscrapers” not only in the city, and not even in the country, but in the whole world. And it held this world record of height right up until 1970. Today the Empire State Building observation decks on the 86th and 102nd floors are extremely popular with tourists and offer impressive panoramic views of New York.

2

New York, United States of America

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The skyscraper, which was built for the headquarters of the Chrysler Corporation, was finished in May 1930. For 11 months, it was the highest building in New York and in the whole world – 318,8 meters with the antenna. The Chrysler Building is designed in the Art Deco style, and is commonly considered to be the most beautiful in Manhattan: unusual ornaments on the walls and on the roof resemble the design of the first Chrysler cars. And right up until nowadays this skyscraper is the highest brick building in the world – almost 4 millions of manually deposited bricks form its 77 floors.

3

New York, United States of America

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This building was constructed in 1933 as an office for the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), and got the name RCA Building. Later it was known as GE Building and Comcast Building. But, not to get confused in names, New Yorkers now call it by its real city address – “30 Rockefeller Plaza”. The noted Art Deco architect Raymond Hood took part in the projection of the building. The 70-story skyscraper stands 260 meters high. As a popular New York joke says, the observation deck here is better than in the Empire State Building, because one cannot see the Empire State Building from the Empire State Building.

4

New York, United States of America

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The Bank of Manhattan Trust Building was constructed in April 1930. With the result of 71 floors and 283 meters – it held the record of height in New York and in the whole world for a month. According to the plans, it must have held the record longer, but the architects of the Chrysler Building, which had been projected to be half a meter lower than 40 Wall Street, made alterations into the project, having added a 38-meter antenna to the building. In 1995 the Wall Street Tower was acquired by Donald Trump, today’s President of the USA. That is why nowadays it is also known as the Trump Building.

5

New York, United States of America

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70 Pine Street, a narrow Art Deco tower, was built in 1932 for the oil baron Henry Doherty. Its roof is 260 meters high, 290 meters with the antenna, the number of floors is 67. The building is the last of the skyscrapers built in Lower Manhattan before the World War II. Until 1970, 70 Pine Street had been the tallest building in Lower Manhattan, before the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were built. However, after the tragic events of 2001, it returned this status again, for several years.

6

New York, United States of America

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The skyscraper 500 Fifth Avenue was opened in 1931. The office building has 60 floors and is 216 meters high. The architects decorated the tower in the Art Deco style, having ideally calculated its area and ledges, in order to perfectly meet the requirements of “The 1916 Zoning Resolution”. According to this document, the skyscraper must not rise as a single wall and shield the sun for pedestrians.

7

New York, United States of America

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In 1929 the skyscraper 20 Exchange Place was projected as the highest in the world. However, at that time its architects did not yet know their rivals’ exact plans; what is worse, they were not aware of the approaching of the Great Depression. That is why, as a result, the project of the skyscraper was reconsidered, and the building, which later became an office for the bankers of Citigroup, was completed in 1931, at the level of 57 floors and 226 meters. The financiers did not grudge money for the décor of the building, though: the walls and facades are laid with natural stone, and at the 19th floor the bankers’ busts are displayed.

8

New York, United States of America

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The building, which was erected in 1929, bears the name of its architect – Irwin Chanin. The 56 floors of the skyscraper rise to the height of 197,8 meters, and together with the antenna the building runs up to 207,3 meters. The construction is designed in the Art Deco style: the foundation is decorated by the black Belgian marble, over the lobby the wall is supported by the stylized counterforts, the similar structures crown the roof of the skyscraper as well – it has a beautiful lighting there, which works at night.

9

New York, United States of America

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The skyscraper General Electric was opened in 1931. The 50-story central tower stands 200 meters high. The decoration of the building represents a quaint blend of the Gothic and Art Deco styles, the embodiment of its owner. The arcs on the very top symbolize radio-waves, the figured fingerplates and the décor in piers represent the power of electricity. On the corner of the building the clock with the logotype General Electric attracts pedestrians’ attention.

10

New York, United States of America

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The building for the Irving Trust Company was constructed in 1931, the architectural style is Art Deco. The main bulk runs up to 199,3 meters, the skyscraper has 50 floors in all. House number one, on the corner of Wall Street and Broadway, had been occupied by the Bank of New York until 2014, after that it was sold to the group of investors for 585 million dollars for the reconstruction into residential apartment.

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