The Skyscraper Marathon (Mar, 1930)

The Skyscraper Marathon

MODERN MECHANICS would nearly be required to issue hourly editions like a metropolitan newspaper if it were to present the newest bulletins on the skyscraper marathon championship constantly in progress in New York City. Before construction can be completed on the latest highest office building or hotel, plans will be announced for a building to eclipse the one under way and soon the championship belt will change hands again. The Chrysler building in New York was planned to be the world’s tallest office building. Construction was started. The Bank of Manhattan building was under way and work on the upper part of the Chrysler building was timed until it was believed the bank structure upper framework was complete. Then the Chrysler building shot up into the air and a cupola on top made it taller than the bank building. But championships are not won so easily. The bank building was shot up four stories higher. The Chrysler building was topped with a tall flagpole to lend it greater height. The bank, however, with its additional four stories and a very tall flagpole, finally won the knockout punch.

The new hotel New Yorker was constructed at a cost of more than $22,000,000. It contains more than 2500 rooms and is New York’s largest hotel. But before the New Yorker was completed plans were announced for the New Waldorf Astoria to be completed in 1931. The New Waldorf Astoria at the time of this bulletin would be the largest hotel in the world but with the current construction rivalry by the time it is completed plans may be under way for a hostelry which will eclipse it in size. This new hotel will be valued at around $40,000,000.

  1. John Savard says: February 28, 20119:44 am

    I thought it was the Empire State Building that was in competition with the Chrysler Building for being the tallest one in the world at the time of construction.

    And Wikipedia says the Chrysler Building was taller than the Bank of Manhattan Building – this was not an old name for the Empire State Building; it’s a different building, now known as the Trump Building. Oh, dear, I’m really confused now.

  2. Stephen says: March 1, 20113:51 am

    The curious thing is that all this was going on in the depths of the Depression when people weren’t exactly falling over each other to rent expensive office space. When it opened, the Empire State Building had so few tenants that it was known as the Empty State Building.

  3. hwertz says: March 1, 20111:12 pm

    There’s a reason for this inconsistency. Per here… the official ranking for tallest building excludes flagpoles, antennas and masts (but does include spires and pinnacles.) Although, they do still measure base-to-tip as a seperate category. It seems this was instituted in the late 1960s; owners of tall (but not record-breaking) buildings were sticking taller and taller antennas and such on top of their buildings (getting up towards 500 feet in height) and then claiming their building was the tallest, when in fact it was considerably shorter than the actual tallest buildings.

  4. George says: March 1, 20117:00 pm

    At the time the article was published, the Waldorf-Astoria had just finished being torn down, and construction of the Empire State Building was just getting underway on the vacated lot.

  5. Toronto says: March 1, 201110:41 pm

    George: Interesting – thanks. Especially with the mention of the “new” Waldorf-Astoria in the article.

  6. jon says: March 2, 201112:15 pm

    Interesting to see the Chrysler without the crown – looks quite drab by comparison with today!

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