Notes

To spare the reader countless footnotes interrupting the story, I decided to use endnotes. Hopefully, these allow readers interested in greater details about particular facets of Higher to sate their curiosity. Reconstructing the events behind the skyscraper race of the 1920s proved an exercise in detective work. Sadly, few architectural practices of the time saved their records for posterity. The discovery of legal records related to William Van Alen was one boon. The notebook detailing the construction of the Empire State Building brought to light by Carol Willis (Building the Empire State) was another. I found invaluable information in the archives of John J. Raskob, The Bank of The Manhattan Company, Empire State, Inc., and Yasuo Matsui. Then there was the kindness and patience of my interview subjects, who gave great color to the principals in this story. And finally, I negotiated lengthy, but critical stays in the New York Public Library and Avery Architectural Library. At the former I scanned through the microfilmed pages of the New York World, New York Sun, New York American, New York Evening Telegram, Evening Post, and New York Herald Tribune—an effort that makes one appreciate the indexed New York Times. That said, I discovered scores of articles that helped put flesh on the bones of this story—for example, the one by William Van Alen (“Architect Finds New Designs in Frame of Steel,” New York Herald Tribune), which offers a rare explanation of his thought process behind the Chrysler Building design. At the Avery Library I paged through decades’ worth of journals like Pencil Points, Architectural Forum, The Architect, The American Architect, Architecture, and Engineering News Record, getting a clear-eyed picture of the life of an architect in the 1920s. It was a marvelous time.

PROLOGUE

“What floor, please”: F. Scott Fitzgerald, “May Day,” Smart Set (July 1920).

Severance’s role: Faith Severance Hackl Stewart, personal interview.

“Well, how do you like”: Francis Swales, “Draftsmanship and Architecture, V, as exemplified by the work of William Van Alen,” Pencil Points (August 1929).

“All my French is coming”: Faith Severance Hackl Stewart, personal interview.

“In William Van Alen’s work”: Leon Solon, “The Passing of the Skyscraper Formula for Design,” The Architectural Record (February 1924).

“the greatest energy”: Ibid.

“We’re going to ask McKim”: Allan Keller, “For Rockefeller Center Or a Small Home,” New York World Telegram (February 16, 1938).

They skirmished over money: Faith Severance Hackl Stewart, personal interview. [Note: Unfortunately, the full details of the lawsuit have been lost in the New York courts. Several attempts to locate the files proved fruitless.]

To understand this chase: Francisco Mujica, History of the Skyscraper (Da Capo Press, 1977).

bird’s-eye: George H. Douglas, Skyscrapers: A Social History of the Very Tall Building in America (McFarland & Company, 1996), p. 7.

“Architects said nothing”: Harvey Wiley Corbett, “The Limits of our Skyscraping,” New York Times Magazine (November 17, 1929).

“extreme height”: “City’s Tallest Structure from Base to Top,” New York Times (January 1, 1905).

“With the trees of Madison Square”: Sarah Bradford Landau and Carl Condit, Rise of the New York Skyscraper, 1865–1913 (Yale University Press, 1996), p. 304.

A year later, the slender Singer: Anthony Robins, “The Continuing Saga of the Tallest Building in the World,” Architectural Record (January 1987).

The loan denial cost: Douglas, Skyscrapers, pp. 50–60.

Thirty years and millions of nickels: Ibid., pp. 50–60.

He and Gilbert then settled: Landau and Condit, Rise of the New York Skyscraper, pp. 381–91.

“How high do you want”: Ibid., pp. 381–91.

“There would be an enormous”: Louis Horowitz and Boyden Sparkes, The Towers of New York: The Memoirs of a Master Builder (Simon & Schuster, 1937), p. 2.

Dubbed the “Cathedral of Commerce”: Robert A. M. Stern, Pride of Place: Building the American Dream (Houghton Mifflin, 1986), p. 251.

“80,000 lights instantly”: Edwin Cochran, The Cathedral of Commerce (Broadway Park Place Company, 1916).

“The lamps are going”: Barbara Tuchman, The Guns of August (Macmillan, 1962), p. 117.

“The rain drives on”: Modris Eksteins, Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age (Houghton Mifflin, 1989), pp. 146–47.

Worse than all of it: Ibid., pp. 146–65.

President Wilson hesitated: Paul Johnson, A History of the American People (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1997), pp. 645–48.

Her efforts decided: James Truslow Adams, The Epic of America (Little, Brown, & Company, 1931), p. 386.

Instead they danced and drank: Eksteins, Rites of Spring, pp. 259–69.

“A fresh picture”: F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Early Success” in The Crack-Up: with Other Uncollected Pieces, Note-Books and Unpublished Letters, ed. Edmund Wilson (New Directions, 1956), p. 87.

“think of any temptation”: Ann Douglas, Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the 1920s (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1995), p. 193.

“It is a European city”: Ric Burns and James Sanders, New York: An Illustrated History (Knopf, 1999), p. 317.

CHAPTER 1

“The heart of all”: Thomas Van Leeuwen, The Skyward Trend of Thought: Five Essays on the Metaphysics of the American Skyscraper (AHA Books, 1986).

The lobster shift returned: William H. Whyte, The WPA Guide to New York City: A Comprehensive Guide to the Five Boroughs of the Metropolis—Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Richmond (The New Press, 1992), pp. 49–53.

“The bravest thing”: Gene Fowler, Skyline: A Reporter’s Reminiscence of the 1920s (Viking Press, 1961), p. 50.

It was not just another day: Supreme Court of the State of New York, “William Van Alen versus Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, Reylex Corporation, W.P. Chrysler Building Corporation and National Surety Company,” 1930–31 (New York, NY). [Note: Many of the details about this first meeting with Chrysler as well as precise information about the dates and types of drawings/revisions that Van Alen executed for Chrysler are found in the files related to this lawsuit.]

Regardless, Reynolds assured Van Alen: Ibid.

“stores and other improvements”: Ibid.

“In designing a skyscraper”: William Van Alen, “Architect Finds New Designs in Frame of Steel,” New York Herald Tribune (September 7, 1930).

“a fire-proof office building”: Supreme Court of the State of New York, “William Van Alen versus Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, Reylex Corporation, W.P. Chrysler Building Corporation and National Surety Company.”

“leading the New York modernists”: Allene Talmey, “Raymond Hood—Man Against Sky,” New Yorker (April 11, 1931).

The last charge: “W. H. Reynolds, Builder, Dead at 63,” New York Times (October 14, 1931).

Over the next fifteen years: Cooper Union, “Minutes of Trustees Meetings,” 1915–1930, Cooper Union Library (New York, NY).

“In a rich haritone voice”: Kenneth Murchison, “Mr. Murchison of New York Says—,” The Architect (April 1928).

“successful addition to the skyscraper”: “Approve New Skyscraper,” New York Times (June 6, 1928).

With nine hundred thousand square feet: “Plan to Start 67-Story Reynolds Building Soon,” Record and Guide (August 25, 1928).

“without turning a spadeful”: Colonel W. A. Starrett, Skyscrapers and the Men Who Build Them (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1928), p. 110.

Walter Chrysler was a bear: “A Man of the Year—Walter Chrysler,” Time (January 7, 1929).

“Where did you get this”: Horowitz and Sparkes, The Towers of New York, p. 194.

“Walter, you’ll go broke”: Vincent Curcio, Chrysler: The Life and Times of an Automotive Genius (Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 394.

“step in the campaign”: New York World (October 4, 1928).

“I was well aware”: Curcio, Chrysler, pp. 406–7.

“After a long harrowing day”: Nicholas Kelley Papers, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.

There were two main issues: “Reminiscences of Nicholas Kelley” in the Columbia University Oral History Research Office Collection, Columbia University (New York, NY).

“I think it’s great”: Nicholas Kelley Papers.

When out in social situations: Herbert Cowden, telephone interview.

“Actually, I had two”: Curcio, Chrysler, p. 639.

Van Alen was to abandon: Supreme Court of the State of New York, “William Van Alen versus Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, Reylex Corporation, W.P. Chrysler Building Corporation and National Surety Company.”

“I want a taller building”: Ibid. [Note: Paraphrased from recollections of William Van Alen]

CHAPTER 2

“You shall no longer take things”: William Lescaze, On Being an Architect (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1942), title page.

Fifty years before: Chrysler Tower Corporation, The Chrysler Building (Chrysler Tower Corporation, 1930), pp. 3–4.

Despite a few tall buildings: Sarah Bradford Landau and Carl Condit, Rise of the New York Skyscraper, 1865–1913 (Yale University Press, 1996), p. 111.

Jacob Van Alen ran: Benjamin Taylor Van Alen, Genealogical History of the Van Alen Family (Chicago, 1902), p. 37.

“His name, tripping”: Francis Swales, “Draftsmanship and Architecture, V, as exemplified by the work of William Van Alen,” Pencil Points (August 1929).

When one of the builders: Henry Saylor, The AIA’s First Hundred Years (Octagon, 1957), p. 2.

“It was torn by dissensions”: Ibid., p. 13.

“Yahoo or Hottentot creations”: John Burchard and Albert Bush-Brown, The Architecture of America: A Social and Cultural History (Little, Brown & Company, 1961), p. 262

“the damage wrought to this country”: Louis H. Sullivan, The Autobiography of an Idea (Dover Publications, 1956).

Practices of the day: Anonymous, “The Story of an Architect.” Century Magazine (1917).

“herd by themselves”: Ibid.

“it might not take”: Swales, “Draftsmanship and Architecture.”

After work and late into the night: Francis Swales, “Master Draftsmen, VII, Emmanuel Louis Masqueray,” Pencil Points (1917).

First awarded in 1904: Joseph Freedlander, “What Is the Paris Prize?” Van Alen Institute Archives (New York, NY), source unknown.

As Van Alen departed: Swales, “Draftsmanship and Architecture.”

“He must have both”: Vitruvius, On Architecture, edited and translated by Frank Granger (Harvard University Press, 1931), pp. 7–9.

Students spent little time: Letters to parents, 1908–1911, Clarence S. Stein Papers at Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library (Ithaca, New York).

“Everyone was shouting”: Letter to parents—March 10, 1908, Clarence S. Stein Papers at Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library (Ithaca, New York).

“Unless you were”: Ely Jacques Kahn Papers, Avery Drawings and Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University (New York, NY).

“The training was providing him”: Swales, “Draftsmanship and Architecture.”

Van Alen was the only American”: Kenneth Murchison, “The Chrysler Building as I See It,” The American Architect (September 1930).

CHAPTER 3

“All Great Ages”: William Lescaze, On Being an Architect (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1942), p. 23.

“to recognize that in steel-frame”: William Van Alen, “Architect Finds New Designs in Frame of Steel,” New York Herald Tribune (September 7, 1930).

“stark nakedness of silos”: Ralph Walker as quoted in Norbert Messler, The Art Deco Skyscraper in New York (Peter Lang, 1986), p. 45.

“an architectural character”: William Van Alen, “Architect Finds New Designs in Frame of Steel.”

“It must be tall, every inch”: Rosemarie Haag Bletter and Cervin Robinson, Skyscraper Style: Art Deco New York (Oxford University Press, 1975), p. 36.

“frozen fountain”: Claude Bragdon, “The Frozen Fountain,” Pencil Points (October 1931)

On the initial design of the Reynolds Building: Francis Swales, “Draftsmanship and Architecture, V, as exemplified by the work of William Van Alen,” Pencil Points (August 1929). [Note: based on study of sketches included in the article.]

“top piece which looked”: Kenneth Murchison, “The Chrysler Building as I See It,” The American Architect (September 1930).

From these early sketches: Supreme Court of the State of New York, “William Van Alen versus Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, Reylex Corporation, W.P. Chrysler Building Corporation and National Surety Company”, 1930–31 (New York, NY).

“giving life and interest”: William Van Alen, “Architect Finds New Designs in Frame of Steel.”

“a great jeweled sphere”: “Final Sketch of the Reynolds Building,” The American Architect (August 20, 1928).

“neck of a demijohn”: “They Do Say,” The Architect (May 1929)

When the architect presented: Walter P. Chrysler in collaboration with Boyden Sparkes, Life of an American Workman (Dodd, Mead & Company, 1950), p. 198.

“several van loads”: Supreme Court of the State of New York, “William Van Alen versus Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, Reylex Corporation, W.P. Chrysler Building Corporation and National Surety Company.”

Throughout this process: Andre J. Fouilhoux, “Drawings, Specifications and Inspection,” Engineering News Record (February 19, 1931).

Born in Springfield, Massachusetts: “Obituary—Fred Ley,” New York Times (July 14, 1958).

Wreckers utilized: “Novel Methods are Tried,” New York Times (June 30, 1929).

Each rig cost $14,500: “Skyscrapers: Builders and Their Tools,” Fortune (1930).

“move in every direction”: Ibid.

“Chrysler Building—Being Erected”: John B. Reynolds, The Chrysler Building (Chrysler Tower Corporation, 1930).

“At night the tower”: “Chrysler Plans are Announced,” New York Sun (March 7, 1929).

“Tower of Babel look”: New York Times as quoted in Robert A. M. Stern, Gregory Gilmartin, and John Montague Massengale, New York 1930: Architecture and Urbanism Between Two World Wars (Rizzoli, 1987), p. 601.

Others announced plans: “Mussolini to Build Highest Skyscraper,” New York Times (September 30, 1924).

CHAPTER 4

“I am perhaps a little quick”: Thomas Hine, Burnham of Chicago: Architect and Planner (Oxford University Press, 1979).

In March 1929, Craig Severance: Faith Severance Hackl Stewart, personal interview.

“the only architect who owns”: “A Practical Point,” The Architect (November 1929).

“an unpleasant, tall funny man”: Faith Severance Hackl Stewart, personal interview.

“I want. I get”: Ibid.

Severance came from a well-established: Nell Jane Barnett Sullivan and David Kendall Martin, A History of the Town of Chazy, Clinton County, New York (Little Press, 1970).

“Stand there and hold”: Bell Sullivan, Severance (J. C. Hubbell Papers, County History, Clinton and Franklin County).

“the intervention of an architectural police”: Montgomery Schuyler, “Recent Buildings in New York,” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine (September 1883).

“It wouldn’t have mattered”: Faith Severance Hackl Stewart, personal interview.

“I’ll plan anything a man”: Paul R. Baker, Stanny: The Gilded Life of Stanford White (Free Press, 1989), p. 21.

“I like your architecture”: Francis Swales, “Obituary—Thomas Hastings,” Pencil Points (1929).

“There was always Carrère”: Harold Van Buren Magonigle Papers, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.

One time while overseeing a man: Faith Severance Hackl Stewart, personal interview.

“John, you ought to delegate”: Tom Shachtman, Skyscraper Dreams: The Great Real Estate Dynasties of New York (Little, Brown & Company, 1991), Chapter Two.

“the idea of refinement”: Matlack Price, “A Renaissance in Commercial Architecture,” Architectural Record (May 1912).

“I don’t know any architects”: Faith Severance Hackl Stewart, personal interview.

Severance and Van Alen first met: Christopher Gray, “An Architect Called the Ziegfeld of His Profession,” New York Times (March 22, 1998).

Soon more commissions for office buildings: John Taylor Boyd, “The Newer Fifth Avenue Retail Shop Fronts,” The Architectural Record (June 1921).

“Our office is entirely organized”: Letter from H. Craig Severance to James Ewing, President of Morewood Realty Holding Company, November 19, 1921. (Supreme Court of the State of New York.)

When Van Alen began missing deadlines: Faith Severance Hackl Stewart, personal interview.

“Every proportion appears to be unfortunate”: T-Square, “Skyline,” New Yorker (October 16, 1926).

“We wish to clear our conscience”: T-Square, “Skyline,” New Yorker (February 11, 1928).

It was much more than an isolated: Robert A. M. Stern, Gregory Gilmartin, and John Montague Massengale, New York 1930: Architecture and Urbanism Between Two World Wars (Rizzoli, 1987), p. 204; p. 548.

“machine that makes”: Carol Willis, Form Follows Finance: Skyscrapers and Skylines in New York and Chicago (Princeton Architectural Press, 1995), p. 19.

“History will record”: “Mechanics Hear Chrysler,” New York Times (January 21, 1930).

“Make no little plans”: Daniel Burnham as quoted in Ralph Walker Papers at Department of Special Collections, Syracuse University Library (Syracuse, New York).

CHAPTER 5

“The raison d’être of the skyscraper”: Claude Bragdon, “The Frozen Fountain,” Pencil Points (October 1931).

“Boy Wonder”: Thomas Sutton, personal interview.

“could be tucked away on one floor”: Michigan State Journal (George Ohrstrom Archives), undated.

The call of World War I: Maggie Ohrstrom Bryant, telephone interview.

“rocked sharply, lifted”: online article (http://members.livingalblum.net/robert110/pages/pageeight.htm).

“I haven’t reached the top”: B. C. Forbes, “Romance Behind World’s Tallest Skyscraper,” Boston American (April 17, 1929).

“only person who bothered”: Thomas Sutton, personal interview.

“There was no bullshit”: Ibid.

In September 1928 Ohrstrom formed: “Skyscrapers: Pyramid in Steel and Stock,” Fortune (1930).

“the reverse of those of Foch”: Ibid.

First Ohrstrom took Lot I: Ibid.

“there is no intention on our part”: Letter from George Ohrstrom to P. A. Rowley, Vice Chairman, January 11, 1929 (JPMorgan Chase Archives (New York, NY).

“in earning power than in brick”: “Skyscrapers: Pyramid in Steel and Stock,” Fortune (1930).

As Ohrstrom prepared the financing: Yasuo Matsui, Skyscraper: Multiple Business Dwellings (JPMorgan Chase Archives, 1930).

the new Golconda: John Brooks, Once in Golconda: A True Drama of Wall Street 1920–1938 (W. W. Norton & Company, 1969), pp. 1–13.

“the man who builds a factory”: William Klingaman, 1929: The Year of the Great Crash (Harper & Row, 1989), p. 9.

Retail chains consolidated: Frederick Lewis Allen, Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the Nineteen-Twenties (Harper & Row, 1931), pp. 160–80; E. S. Turner, The Shocking History of Advertising (E. P. Dutton & Company, 1953).

“picked up twelve men”: Allen, Only Yesterday, p. 180.

“No money down”: James Playsted Woods, The Story of Advertising (Ronald Press Company, 1958), pp. 360–79.

“It was a great game”: Klingaman, 1929, p. 12.

“Look down there”: Ibid, p. 56.

“Four More Years of Prosperity”: Allen, Only Yesterday, p. 304.

Amidst this boom: Stanley Peter Andersen, American Ikon: Response to the Skyscraper, 1875–1934 (University of Michigan, Ph.D. dissertation, 1960), p. 142.

“Never . . . it would be difficult”: John Taurenac, The Empire State Building: The Making of a Landmark (Scribner’s, 1995), pp. 67–68.

Skyscrapers were a self-fulfilling prophecy: Carol Willis, Form Follows Finance: Skyscrapers and Skylines in New York and Chicago (Princeton Architectural Press, 1995).

To make way for the hundreds: Robert A. M. Stern, Gregory Gilmartin, and John Montague Massengale, New York 1930: Architecture and Urbanism Between Two World Wars (Rizzoli, 1987), pp. 19–23.

After rumors early in 1928: Taurenac, The Empire State Building, p. 120.

“it is a difficult matter to shake”: Klingaman, 1929, p. 57.

Although they denied participation: Brooks, Once in Golconda, pp. 65–85.

“If the attitudes of Americans”: Ibid., p. 84.

By March 12, 1929, Severance was given: David Bareuther, “Japanese Designs Great Towers,” New York Sun (January 11, 1930).

It was not like Severance: Faith Severance Hackl Stewart, personal interview.

“You can build anything in New York”: “A Practical Point,” The Architect (November 1929).

At fifty-three years old, Matsui: David Bareuther, “Japanese Designs Great Towers.”

“What is your hobby?”: Ibid.

The tower featured a pyramidal crown: Yasuo Matsui, Skyscraper.

“the theme of the symphony”: “Skyscrapers: The Paper Spires,” Fortune (1930).

Once the tower plan was fixed: Daniel Abramson, Skyscraper Rivals: The AIG Building and The Architecture of Wall Street (Princeton Architectural Press, 2001), p. 55.

Later that year economist W. C. Clark: “75-Story Skyscrapers Found Economical,” New York Times (September 22, 1929).

Radio Corp shares rose: Klingaman, 1929, p. 151.

“the first time we led”: Yasuo Matsui, Skyscraper.

There were many factors still to overcome: Board minutes of The Bank of The Manhattan Company, March 1929 (JPMorgan Chase Archives, New York, NY).

CHAPTER 6

“When Americans find themselves”: Ric Burns and James Sanders, New York: An Illustrated History (Knopf, 1999), p. 232.

“This reversal of building methods”: Colonel W. A. Starrett, Skyscrapers and the Men Who Build Them (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1928), p. 35.

Coined for the winning horse: Sarah Bradford Landau and Carl Condit, Rise of the New York Skyscraper, 1865–1913 (Yale University Press, 1996), pp. ix–x.

National Geographic Magazine, (1930); Bassett Jones, “The Modern Building Is a Machine,” The American Architect (January 30, 1924).

“Before us is spread the most”: Landau and Condit, Rise of the New York Skyscraper, p. 71.

“one might believe that the chief end”: Winston Weisman, “New York and the Problem of the First Skyscraper,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians (Volume XII, 1).

“the loss of property was greater”: George H. Douglas, Skyscrapers: A Social History of the Very Tall Building in America (McFarland & Company, 1996), pp. 8–10.

“All lost except wife”: Ibid., pp. 8–10.

In the ensuing years, they ushered: Landau and Condit, Rise of the New York Skyscrapers, pp. 19–39.

“He reached a snag early one”: Douglas, Skyscrapers, p. 24.

“a steel bridge structure on end”: David Bareuther, “Structure on End,” New York Sun (January 12, 1929).

“if the building goes down”: Ibid.

“I secured a plumb-line”: Landau and Condit, Rise of the New York Skyscraper, p. 163.

“like a human being in its organization”: Norbert Messler, The Art Deco Skyscraper in New York (Peter Lang, 1986), p. 45.

CHAPTER 7

“Mr. Chrysler is a big man”: W. Parker Chase, New York, The Wonder City (Wonder City Publishing Company, 1932), p. 94.

“To me this building”: “Chrysler Gives Credit to Men,” New York Telegram (January 24, 1930).

“mind so real, so complete”: Vincent Curcio, Chrysler: The Life and Times of an Automotive Genius (Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 64.

“Banker at 34”: New York Herald Tribune (April 10, 1929).

“64-Story Bank Building”: New York Herald Tribune (April 7, 1929).

“Wall Street Building to Top All”: New York Times (April 10, 1929).

“in its tracks the rumor”: “Lights of New York—Downtown Record” (George Ohrstrom Archives), no date/source reference.

“a beacon for airplanes and ships”: “Planning 63-Story Wall Street Building,” Boston Herald (April 14, 1929).

“the newest skyscraper will cost more”: “Hot Off the Griddle” (George Ohrstrom Archives), no date/source reference.

“This young man calls himself”: B. C. Forbes, “Romance Behind World’s Tallest Skyscraper,” Boston American (April 17, 1929).

“Twentieth century pyramid builders”: “George Ohrstrom, 34, Now a Bank President” (George Ohrstrom Archives), no date/source reference.

“monument”: “Chrysler Gives Credit to Men,” New York Telegram (January 24, 1930).

“prodigious, fabulous, a torpedo-headed dynamo”: “A Man of the Year—Walter Chrysler,” Time (January 7, 1929).

Such was the story of his life: Vincent Curcio, Chrysler: The Life and Times of an Automotive Genius (Oxford University Press, 2000). [This section draws heavily on this fine autobiography of Walter Chrysler.]

“You had to be a tough kid”: Walter P. Chrysler in collaboration with Boyden Sparkes, Life of an American Workman (Dodd, Mead & Company, 1950), p. 12.

“I wasn’t willing to stick around”: Ibid., p. 69.

“You can take her away”: Curcio, Chrysler, p. 81.

“It was painted ivory white”: Chrysler and Sparkes, Life of an American Workman, p. 99.

“What a job I could do here”: Ibid., pp. 126–27.

“staring at the wall as if in a daze”: Curcio, Chrysler, p. 253.

“If that’s the way you feel about”: Ibid., p. 279.

Van Alen was buried in revisions: Supreme Court of the State of New York, “William Van Alen versus Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, Reylex Corporation, W.P. Chrysler Building Corporation and National Surety Company,” 1930–31 (New York, NY).

More details had been published: “Wall Street Tower to Rise 850 feet,” New York Sun (April 13, 1929).

This was a character who: George C. S. Hackl, personal interview.

“Make this building higher than the Eiffel Tower”: Chrysler and Sparkes, Life of an American Workman, p. 198.

“Van, you’ve just got to get up”: Kenneth Murchison, “The Chrysler Building as I See It,” The American Architect (September 1930).

“Running up a building’s like playing”: William Bridges, “In the Eyes of a Steel Worker,” New York Sun (January 29, 1930).

The main power on the building site: “31⁄2 Tons of Girders Plunge,” New York Times (April 21, 1929); “4 Killed, 11 Hurt as Girders Fall,” New York Sun (April 20, 1929); New York World (April 21, 1929).

Steel work was dangerous business: F. D. McHugh, “Manhattan’s Mightiest ‘Minaret,’” Scientific American (April 1930).

CHAPTER 8

“Let’s speed—speed—speed”: Colonel W. A. Starrett, Skyscrapers and the Men Who Build Them (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1928).

“The idea is my own”: Meryle Secrest, Frank Lloyd Wright (Knopf, 1992), p. 7.

When settlers crossed the Atlantic: Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 (Oxford University Press, 1999), pp. 3–26.

It was a long way: “Stock Exchange on Pillory Site,” New York Sun (May 24, 1930).

“the proposed building may later”: “Great New Structure to Rise on Old Site,” Manhattan Family (May 1929).

“a parade in which each marcher”: “Ability and Team-Work Are Features of the Crew Which Built Empire State,” World-Telegram (February 18, 1938).

On most jobs, the demolition crew: Yasuo Matsui, Skyscraper: Multiple Business Dwellings (JPMorgan Chase Archives, 1930); W. T. McIntosh, “Unusual Foundation Procedure for 71-Story Building,” Engineering News Record (April 24, 1930). [Note: This section on the foundation work on the Manhattan Company Building is largely based on these two accounts.]

“irreducible minimum”: Matsui, Skyscraper.

The structural steel had long since begun: “The Story of Steel,” Scientific American (January—September 1924).

“When it was decided that the topmost”: William Van Alen, “The Structure and Metal Work of the Chrysler Building,” The Architectural Forum (October 1930).

“I am not particularly interested”: District Court of New York, “Van Alen versus Aluminum Company of America,” March 18, 1942 (New York, NY).

It gave the appearance: Claudia Roth Pierpont, “The Silver Spine,” New Yorker (November 18, 2002).

The question was how to be faithful: Ibid.

“To my mind, Van Alen was the best”: Ron Miller and Frederick C. Durante, The Art of Chesley Bonestell (Sterling Publications, 2001).

“Your house is finished”: Secrest, Frank Lloyd Wright, p. 419.

“far away from paper and pencil”: Robert Twombly, Louis Sullivan: His Life and Work (Viking, 1986).

“liveliest spot on Earth”: W. Parker Chase, New York, The Wonder City (Wonder City Publishing Company, 1932), p. 230.

“As soon as the dusk falls”: Ric Burns and James Sanders, New York: An Illustrated History (Knopf, 1999), p. 347.

“If this is to be a skyscraper”: “Automobiles in Architecture—Row of Motors Cars Placed in Design of Chrysler Tower,” New York Sun (January 1930).

CHAPTER 9

“Therefore when we build”: John Ruskin, The Seven Lamps of Architecture (John Wiley, 1890).

“nearest peace-time equivalent to war”: Colonel W. A. Starrett, Skyscrapers and the Men Who Build Them (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1928), p. 63.

400 masons and common laborers: John B. Reynolds, The Chrysler Building (Chrysler Tower Corporation, 1930), p. 13.

There were actually five Starrett brothers: Paul Starrett, Changing the Skyline (Whittlesey House, 1938), pp. 3–14; John Taurenac, The Empire State Building: The Making of a Landmark (Scribner’s, 1995), pp. 179–200.

“You can hire any number of engineers”: “Paul Starrett, Builder, 90, Dies,” New York Times (July 6, 1957).

“not to erect steel, brick, or concrete”: Colonel W. A. Starrett, Skyscrapers, p. 87.

If you stopped at the 40 Wall Street site: Pietro Di Donato, Christ in Concrete (Signet Classic, 1939); “Skyscrapers: Builders and Their Tools,” Fortune (1930).

On the site, Mr. Adams: “Building a 71-Story Skyscraper in 33 Weeks,” Engineering News Record (May 15, 1930); Carol Willis, Building the Empire State (W. W. Norton, New York, 1998). [Note: Many details drawn from the activities of Starrett Brothers on the Empire State Building.]

“is a fascinating game”: Colonel W. A. Starrett, Skyscrapers, p. 63.

Every morning before 8 A.M.: O. F. Sieder, “Steel Design and Erection on a 900-Foot Tower Building,” Engineering News Record (May 8, 1930).

“We will make our deliveries on time”: Raymond Jones, “Our New Main Office to Be World’s Tallest Building,” Manhattan Family (October 1930).

CHAPTER 10

The summer should have been: Faith Severance Hackl Stewart, personal interview.

“modern interpretation of the ancient Greek”: “Modern Architecture,” The Architect (May 1930).

“Distressingly pretentious”: T-Square, “The Sky Line: One Silver Lining—Madison Mixture—And Contents Noted,” New Yorker (June 1, 1929).

“his most strikingly original and interesting”: Francis Swales, “Draftsmanship and Architecture, V, as exemplified by the work of William Van Alen,” Pencil Points (August 1929).

“Never, so far as [Van Alen] knew”: T-Square, “The Sky Line: Up and Up,” New Yorker (August 17, 1929).

George Ohrstrom was just as stalwart a competitor: Maggie Ohrstrom Bryant, telephone interview; Thomas Sutton, personal interview.

“last as long as the pyramids”: 40 Wall Street, Inc., “Report as of June 30, 1956,” JPMorgan Chase Archives (1956).

“Why did you make it so high?” Frederick Simpich, “This Giant That Is New York,” National Geographic Magazine (1930).

“Don’t tell me how it can’t”: Maggie Ohrstrom Bryant, telephone interview.

“lure of having the highest”: Yasuo Matsui, Skyscraper: Multiple Business Dwellings (JPMorgan Chase Archives, 1930).

In August of 1929, a rumor: John Taurenac, The Empire State Building: The Making of a Landmark (Scribner’s, 1995), pp. 120–21; “Syndicate Gets Waldorf Site,” New York Herald Tribune (June 4, 1929).

“Instead of having the feeling”: “Waldorf Diners Clink Glasses,” New York Herald Tribune (May 2, 1929).

“There would be no limit”: “Raskob Plans to Aid Workers by Investors,” New York Herald Tribune (May 7, 1929).

“Hello, Al”: “Smith Plays Hurdy Gurdy in His Hotel Apartment,” New York Herald Tribune (March 13, 1929).

“Please do not trouble to acknowledge”: Letter from John J. Raskob to Louis Kaufman, July 23, 1929, John Jakob Raskob Papers at the Hagley Museum and Library (Wilmington, Delaware).

“enormous size of the building”: Letter from Louis Kaufman to John J. Raskob, July 24, 1929, John Jakob Raskob Papers at the Hagley Museum and Library (Wilmington, Delaware).

“Wickedest Ward in New York”: Robert Slayton, Empire Statesman: The Rise and Redemption of Al Smith (Free Press, 2001), Chapter 2.

“I’m to be an Irish landlord”: “Smith to Head Firm Erecting 80-Story Tower,” New York Herald Tribune (August 30, 1929).

“Mr. Speaker, I have just heard”: Slayton, Empire Statesman, Chapter 3.

“There are no pikers in this organization”: “Smith Denies He’s through with Politics,” New York Telegram (August 30, 1929).

“But this building we’re going to put up”: “Smith to Head Firm Erecting 80-Story Tower,” New York Herald Tribune (August 30, 1929); “Smith Denies He’s through with Politics,” New York Telegram (August 30, 1929); “80-Story Tower Will Rise Soon,” New York Sun (August 30, 1929); “Smith to Build Highest Skyscraper,” New York Times (August 30, 1929); “New Waldorf-Astoria Building 80-Stories High,” Record & Guide (September 7, 1929); “Al Smith, Builder, to Stay in Politics,” New York Evening Post (August 30, 1929). [Note: This scene is brought together by weaving together these sources.]

But on or about September 1: “New Skyscraper Race Is Won by The Bank of The Manhattan Company,” New York Telegram (October 18, 1929).

“Made to learn the closely guarded”: Paul Starrett, Changing the Skyline (Whittlesey House, 1938), p. 283.

INTERLUDE

“If a man saves fifteen dollars”: William Klingaman, 1929: The Year of the Great Crash (Harper & Row, 1989), pp. 211–12.

Labor Day weekend offered: New York Times (September 2–4, 1929); New York Evening Post (September 2–4, 1929).

“Dow Jones could climb”: Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan-Witts, The Day the Bubble Burst: A Social History of the Wall Street Crash of 1929 (Doubleday, 1979), p. 274.

“Wall Street was pandemonium”: Ric Burns and James Sanders, New York: An Illustrated History (Knopf, 1999), p. 367.

“You could talk about Prohibition”: John Brooks, Once in Golconda: A True Drama of Wall Street 1920–1938 (W. W. Norton & Company, 1969), p. 82.

Throughout the summer the bull market: John Kenneth Galbraith, The Great Crash: 1929 (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1988).

“a new era of prosperity”: Vincent Curcio, Chrysler: The Life and Times of an Automotive Genius (Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 462.

“a young banker had put every dollar”: Klingaman, 1929, p. 219.

“as little an intrest or shear”: Ibid., p. 220.

“The summer holiday is now”: New York Evening Post (September 3, 1929).

CHAPTER 11

“What figure the poet”: Robert A. M. Stern, Gregory Gilmartin, and John Montague Massengale, New York 1930: Architecture and Urbanism Between Two World Wars (Rizzoli, 1987), p. 505.

“an absence of motion”: William Van Alen, “Architect Finds New Designs in Frame of Steel,” New York Herald Tribune (September 7, 1930).

Above these setbacks, the tower rose: Eugene Clute, “The Chrysler Building, New York,” The Architectural Forum (October 1930).

“The tower should grow out of the lower”: William Van Alen, “Architect Finds New Designs in Frame of Steel.”

“This is not a building for investment”: “Chrysler Awards Given,” New York Times (September 11, 1929).

“the better you do your work”: “Chrysler Building Workers Honored,” New York Sun (September 10, 1929).

A race between skyscrapers suited: Edwin Emery and Henry Ladd Smith, The Press and America (Prentice Hall, 1954), p. 514; pp. 624–29.

Safe from the spotlight: Ross King, Brunelleschi’s Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture (Walker & Company, 2000), pp. 49–52; pp. 160–61.

Under the guidance of Rogers: William G. Wheeler, “Safeguarding Construction Crews in a Great Skyscraper,” Buildings and Building Management (December 2, 1929).

The steelworker’s premium rate, $15.40 a day: C. G. Poore, “The Riveter’s Lofty Panorama,” New York Times Magazine (January 5, 1930).

“Prince of Wales of the Girders”: Margaret Norris and Brenda Ueland, “Riding the Girders,” Saturday Evening Post (April 11, 1931).

“wore out the most clothes”: Ibid.

When the derrick brought up: “Skyscrapers: Builders and Their Tools,” Fortune (1930).

“the most dangerous part of the work”: C. G. Poore, “The Riveter’s Lofty Drama.”

“find themselves on a narrow beam”: Norris and Ueland, “Riding the Girders.”

“We have an old axiom”: Harold McClain, “Above and Beyond the Ladders,” Empire State Building Commemorative Issue (April 30, 1981).

“When a steel man gets through”: William Bridges, “In the Eyes of a Steel Worker,” New York Sun (January 29, 1930).

“You get to love it and can’t quit it”: Norris and Ueland, “Riding the Girders.”

Paul Starrett had long since traded in his scuffed-up: Paul Starrett, Changing the Skyline (Whittlesey House, 1938), pp. 287–92. [Note: This scene, including quotations, is based on Paul Starrett’s account.]

Raskob was there, no doubt: Benjamin G. Raskob, Patsy R. Bremer, and Mary Louise (“Boo”) Duffy, personal interview.

The mild-mannered Shreve: R. B. Shreve, “RHS—The Life of Richmond Harold Shreve” (August 1, 1984); Thomas Shreve, email interview.

“thought his idea in danger”: “Richmond Harold Shreve—The Empire State Architect,” The Architect (1947).

CHAPTER 12

“Men are only as great”: Louis Hautecoeur, Histoire de l’architecture classique en France (A. and J. Picard and Cie, 1953), p. 148.

On October 2, 1929: Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan-Witts, The Day the Bubble Burst: A Social History of the Wall Street Crash of 1929 (Doubleday, 1979), pp. 314–18.

At the table sat Billy Durant: Dana Thomas, The Plungers and the Peacocks: An Update of the Classic History of the Stock Market (William Morrow & Company, 1967), pp. 175–77.

top end of the scale: Thomas and Morgan-Witts, The Day the Bubble Burst, p. 315.

“that sooner or later a crash”: John Kenneth Galbraith, The Great Crash: 1929 (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1988), p. 85.

“Don’t part with your illusions”: Ibid., p. 87.

The market had continued a slow: John Brooks, Once in Golconda: A True Drama of Wall Street 1920–1938 (W. W. Norton & Company, 1969), pp. 110–11.

The president of the New York Yankees: William Klingaman, 1929: The Year of the Great Crash (Harper & Row, 1989), pp. 241–44.

“In a healthy market we prosper”: Thomas and Morgan-Witts, The Day the Bubble Burst, p. 317.

His final move was to express: Benjamin G. Raskob, Patsy R. Bremer, and Mary Louise (“Boo”) Duffy, personal interview.

“There are only about four hundred people”: Theodore James, Jr., The Empire State Building (Harper & Row, 1975), p. 23.

Raskob came from squalor: James Walsh, “Chronicle—John Jakob Raskob,” Irish Studies Quarterly (September 1929).

“the best education you can give a boy”: Ibid.

Only days after his father passed away: Benjamin G. Raskob, Patsy R. Bremer, and Mary Louise (“Boo”) Duffy, personal interview.

“fortunate accidents”: S. J. Wolf, “Raskob Takes Off His Coat for Smith,” New York Times Magazine (September 30, 1928).

The reserved, unassuming Raskob: Matthew Josephson and Hannah Josephson, Al Smith: Hero of the Cities (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1969), p. 357.

“What’s a Raskob?”: “John Raskob of General Motors Made 80 Millionaires in 4 Years,” New York Sun (March 12, 1928).

“contains the following ingredients”: “National Affairs—Raskobism,” Time (November 18, 1929).

“there is a divinity which shapes”: Earl Sparling, Mystery Men of Wall Street: The Powers Behind the Markets (Blue Ribbon Books, 1930), p. 208.

“something big and really worthwhile”: Letter from John J. Raskob to Louis Kaufman, August 28, 1929, John Jakob Raskob Papers at the Hagley Museum and Library (Wilmington, Delaware).

“a small town boy’s idea”: “Reminiscences of Eddie Dowling” in the Columbia University Oral History Research Office Collection, Columbia University (New York, NY).

“Eddie, I could cry”: Ibid.

One account had Raskob: Thomas and Morgan-Witts, The Day the Bubble Burst, p. 167.

“what the poor are able to achieve in America”: Benjamin G. Raskob, Patsy R. Bremer, and Mary Louise (“Boo”) Duffy, personal interview.

“Gentleman, this is part of what”: Thomas and Morgan-Witts, The Day the Bubble Burst, p. 318.

The location of the proposed Empire State: John Taurenac, The Empire State Building: The Making of a Landmark (Scribner’s, 1995), pp. 134–35.

“Gentleman, stand back while I start”: “Waldorf Razing Started by Smith,” New York Evening Post (October 1, 1929).

CHAPTER 13

“New York is the San Gimignano”: Thomas Van Leeuwen, The Skyward Trend of Thought: Five Essays on the Metaphysics of the American Skyscraper (AHA Books, 1986).

In early October, Severance drove down: Faith Severance Hackl Stewart, personal interview.

“vertical coffin”: Chester Morrison, “Bold Post Climber Explores Bank of Manhattan Peak,” New York Evening Post (December 26, 1929).

She knew this kind of promise: Faith Severance Hackl Stewart, personal interview.

The pride Severance felt: Ibid.

“a few feet of stone that bears”: online article (http://www.aboutfamouspeople. com/article1145.htm).

“King of Skyscrapers”: “Bank Skyscraper to Rise 925 Feet,” New York Evening Post (October 2, 1929).

“Desire for height supremacy has no part”: Gustav Zismer, “The 100-Story Building Looms,” New York Sun (October 4, 1929).

At least Lefcourt suggested: “105-Story Tower Planned at Broadway,” New York Herald Tribune (October 4, 1929).

He didn’t have to wait long: “150-Story Super-Skyscraper,” New York Herald Tribune (October 6, 1929).

Skyscrapers had plenty of detractors: Stanley Peter Andersen, American Ikon: Response to the Skyscraper, 1875–1934 (University of Michigan, Ph.D. dissertation, 1960); Arnold L. Lehman, The New York Skyscraper: A History of Its Development, 1870–1939 (Yale University, Ph.D. dissertation, 1974); Isabelle Jeanne Gournay, France Discovers America, 1917–1939, French Writings on American Architecture (Yale University, 1989).

“feared for the angels in flight”: “150-Story Skyscraper Will Revolutionize,” New York Herald Tribune (October 13, 1929).

“They seem to be springing up”: Kenneth Murchison, “Thousand Footers,” The Architect (November 1929).

In Los Angeles, plans were under consideration: “Los Angeles to Have Airport,” Evening Telegram (November 16, 1929).

“How long will it be before”: “An Architectural Dream,” New York Times (February 11, 1929).

“the tallest building in the world”: “Chrysler Building Now Tallest Edifice,” New York Times (October 16, 1929).

“It was manifestly impossible to assemble”: William Van Alen, “The Structure and Metal Work of the Chrysler Building,” The Architectural Forum (October 1930).

Each section was made up of stacks: “Steel Erection Problems on a 1,000 Foot Building,” Engineering News Record (January 28, 1930).

Van Alen grabbed a menu: “Note Cast from Ship Drifts to Scotland,” New York Times (January 30, 1932).

Another example of Van Alen’s engineering: “Automobiles in Architecture—Row of Motors Cars Placed in Design of Chrysler Tower,” New York Sun (January 1930).

Squire, Van Alen’s younger cousin: William Edwin Squire Jr., personal interview.

“great tower . . . improves steadily as it progresses”: T-Square, “Skyline,” New Yorker (October 12, 1929).

“seems to me better than nearly”: Francis Swales, “Draftsmanship and Architecture, V, as exemplified by the work of William Van Alen,” Pencil Points (August 1929).

CHAPTER 14

“The architect examined his plans”: Kenneth Murchison, “The Chrysler Building as I See It,” The American Architect (September 1930).

“When you get a guy down”: Christopher Gray, “A Race for the Skies, Lost by a Spire,” New York Times (November 15, 1992).

“Even in building a dog house”: Paul Starrett, Changing the Skyline (Whittlesey House, 1938), p. 178.

“will rise to a height of”: Raymond Jones, “Our New Main Office to Be World’s Tallest Building,” Manhattan Family (October 1930).

The article featured photographs: “New Skyscraper Race Is Won by The Bank of The Manhattan Company,” New York Telegram (October 18, 1929).

“Because of pyramiding in the upper floors”: “Denies Altering Plans for Tallest Building,” New York Times (October 20, 1929).

“the very limit of allowable error”: Colonel W. A. Starrett, Skyscrapers and the Men Who Build Them (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1928), p. 64.

“definitely established”: J. P. Lohman, “Speaking of Real Estate,” New York American (October 22, 1929).

As for the Chrysler Building: Ibid.

The unease that hung over Wall Street’s brokers: New York Evening Post (October 22, 1929).

Governor Smith presented Starrett Brothers’: Memorandum of Information Desired from John J. Raskob as to Empire State Building, John Jakob Raskob Papers at the Hagley Museum and Library (Wilmington, Delaware).

“the biggest and the highest building”: Theodore James, Jr., The Empire State Building (Harper & Row, 1975).

For “practical purposes”: Letter from Hamilton Weber to Robert C. Brown October 21, 1929, John Jakob Raskob Papers at the Hagley Museum and Library (Wilmington, Delaware).

“How high can you make it”: Glenn Fowler, “Tall Lady Is Gainly and Gainful at 40,” New York Times (May 9, 1971).

“would have been fine”: “RHS—The Life of Richmond Harold Shreve” (August 1, 1984); Thomas Shreve, email interview.

“he was afraid that the day”: “Ability and Team-Work Are Features of the Crew Which Built Empire State,” World-Telegram (February 18, 1938).

“heavy black pencil long hair”: R. H. Shreve, “The Empire State Building Organization,” The Architectural Forum (June 1930).

“The program was short enough”: William Lamb, “The Empire State Building—The General Design,” Architectural Forum (January 1931).

“Well, there’s one thing”: Theodore James, Jr., The Empire State Building (Harper & Row, 1975).

Lamb put away his fifteenth scheme: Lamb, “The Empire State Building.”

Just in case, they would leave: Letter from Alfred Smith to Mr. Norton, Comptroller of Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, November 26, 1929, John Jakob Raskob Papers at the Hagley Museum and Library (Wilmington, Delaware).

“It is fortunate that up to this time”: Matlack Price, “A Renaissance in Commercial Architecture,” Architectural Record (May 1912).

On October 23, 1929: The date of the erection of the finial spire has been an item of conjecture for decades. Many believed it was raised in late November 1929 after The Manhattan Company Building had completed its steel work. The earliest newspaper photograph of the finial spire was printed in the November 3, 1929, gravure edition of the New York World. Studies of New York newspapers prior to October 23, 1929, do not reveal the spire. That narrows the window of when the spire was raised. In 2002, Princeton Architectural Press published The Chrysler Building by David Stravitz, which includes a construction photograph of the raised spire stamped with the date October 23, 1929. Given all of the evidence, this is the most likely date.

Down on the street: “Rainstorm and 52-Mile Gales Batter City,” New York Times (October 23, 1929).

“elongated packing boxes”: “Obituary—Thomas Hastings,” New York Times (October 23, 1929).

“fascinating visions of the fantastically”: Walter P. Chrysler in collaboration with Boyden Sparkes, Life of an American Workman (Dodd, Mead & Company, 1950), p. 123.

“If the elevator cabs travel less”: Ibid., p. 129.

The five sections of the vertex: “Steel Erection Problems on a 1,000 Foot Building,” Engineering News Record (January 28, 1930).

The men, however, had to erect: F. D. McHugh, “Manhattan’s Mightiest ‘Minaret,’” Scientific American (April 1930).

Only the construction photographers: David Stravitz, The Chrysler Building (Princeton Architectural Press, 2002).

“watching it from Fifth Avenue”: Murchison, “The Chrysler Building.”

“butterfly from its cocoon”: Ibid.

“We’ll lift the thing up”: Ibid.

The only race chronicled: New York Evening Post (October 23, 1929).

“cohune palms, giant mahoganies”: “Mayans Reared First Skyscraper,” New York World (October 27, 1929).

CHAPTER 15

“Prudent investors are now buying”: New York Times (October 30, 1929).

“I can only cry out”: Ric Burns and James Sanders, New York: An Illustrated History (Knopf, 1999), p. 376.

“I need to know the time”: Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan-Witts, The Day the Bubble Burst: A Social History of the Wall Street Crash of 1929 (Doubleday, 1979), pp. 352–53.

“People just stood there”: William Klingaman, 1929: The Year of the Great Crash (Harper & Row, 1989), pp. 262–63.

“There they were, walking”: Ibid., p. 265.

“Boys, you can forget”: Arnold Shaw, The Jazz Age: Popular Music in the 1920s (Oxford University Press, 1987), p. 225.

A market tailspin jeopardized: Thomas and Morgan-Witts, The Day the Bubble Burst, pp. 370–71.

At 1:30, the New York Stock Exchange’s: Klingaman, 1929, p. 267.

Unfortunately, the worst hadn’t yet occurred: John Brooks, Once in Golconda: A True Drama of Wall Street 1920–1938 (W. W. Norton & Company, 1969), p. 118.

In offices across the city Tuesday morning: New York Times (October 29–30, 1929).

“false, vicious, wholly unwarranted”: Klingaman, 1929, p. 263.

W. B. Foshay, who financed the tallest: “Foshay Bankrupt,” New York World (November 2, 1929).

One of his closest friends: “James J. Riordan Ends His Life,” Evening Telegram (November 9, 1929); “Riordan at 48 Credited with Midas Touch,” New York Herald Tribune (November 10, 1929); “News Is Kept Secret,” New York Herald Tribune (November 11, 1929).

“If he’d been discovered”: “Reminiscences of Eddie Dowling” in the Columbia University Oral History Research Office Collection, Columbia University (New York, NY).

The only photograph of the topped-out: “The World’s Tallest Building,” New York World (November 3, 1929).

The granite fell clear: “Half-ton Block Crashes from 70-Story Bank,” New York Herald Tribune (November 13, 1929); “Two Hurt in Wall Street,” New York Times (November 13, 1929); “Big Stone Falls in Wall Street,” New York Sun (November 12, 1929); “Falling Stone Perils Wall Street Throng,” Evening Telegram (November 12, 1929).

“This is the story”: Allen Beals, “Daily Building Reports,” Architects’ Weekly Building Material Price Supplement (November 16, 1929).

“Architects’ Race Jostles the Moon”: New York Evening Post (November 18, 1929).

“Chrysler Tower Wins Sky Race”: New York Herald Tribune (November 18, 1929).

“America is vindicated”: “The Race Upward,” New York Herald Tribune (November 23, 1929).

Even cartoonists took a turn: “Continued Stories,” New York World (November 19, 1929).

“the tallest usable floor”: Faith Severance Hackl Stewart, personal interview.

One afternoon, while journalists: David Michaelis, “77 Stories—The Secret Life of a Skyscraper,” Manhattan, Inc. (June 1986). [Note: this scene is based on a photograph referred to in Michaelis’s article where Van Alen and Chrysler are photographed on top of the Chrysler Building. Many of the details referred to in the experience of the climb and the comparison to 20,000 automobiles were also sourced from his fine article.]

“natural and logical development of the tower”: William Van Alen, “Architect Finds New Designs in Frame of Steel,” New York Herald Tribune (September 7, 1930).

“With all the surfaces of this spire”: “Automobiles in Architecture—Row of Motors Cars Placed in Design of Chrysler Tower,” New York Sun (January 1930).

“rusticated stone work, belt courses”: William Van Alen, “Architect Finds New Designs in Frame of Steel.”

“very bold in outline form”: William Van Alen, “The Structure and Metal Work of the Chrysler Building,” The Architectural Forum (October 1930).

“How shall we proclaim”: Robert Twombly, Louis Sullivan: His Life and Work (Viking, 1986).

“single figure the naked torso of a man”: Chrysler Tower Corporation, The Chrysler Building (Chrysler Tower Corporation, 1930), p. 15.

For Chrysler, his skyscraper best: Louis Ralston, “The Engineer’s Problems in Tall Buildings,” The Architectural Forum (June 1930).

“Heavenward spring the spires”: Chrysler Tower Corporation, The Chrysler Building, p. 3.

CHAPTER 16

“If the race itself”: H. I. Brock, “New York Completes Highest Office Buildings in All the World,” New York Times Magazine (February 9, 1930).

“[After hearing of another record-breaking skyscraper]”: Kenneth Murchison, “150-Story Super Skyscraper,” The Architect (November 1929).

“We bought that property”: “New Plans for Tallest Skyscraper,” New York Sun (November 18, 1929).

“The determination of the height”: Ibid.

“from the brown derby of Oliver Street”: “Smith to Break Height Record in 1,100-Ft Tower,” New York Herald Tribune (November 20, 1929).

“This building will be a monument”: Ibid.

“Smith to Break Height Record”: New York Herald Tribune (November 20, 1929).

“settled, at least for the present”: “Skyscraper Leads Sea-Land Contest,” New York Evening Post (November 23, 1929).

“Make believe that you are 8 feet up”: Margaret Bourke-White, A Portrait of Myself (Simon & Schuster, 1963), pp. 76–78.

As for the danger: Question and Answer Interview in Margaret Bourke-White Papers at Department of Special Collections, Syracuse University Library (Syracuse, New York).

“to steeple jack for Mr. Chrysler”: Letter from Margaret Bourke-White to Parker Lloyd-Smith, December 6, 1929, Margaret Bourke-White Papers at Department of Special Collections, Syracuse University Library (Syracuse, New York).

“Industry is huge and vital”: Typescript Notes in Margaret Bourke-White Papers at Department of Special Collections, Syracuse University Library (Syracuse, New York).

“In this battle of the skyscrapers”: Bourke-White, A Portrait of Myself, pp. 76–77.

Ivy Lee had cut his teeth: Gene Fowler, Skyline: A Reporter’s Reminiscence of the 1920s (Viking Press, 1961), p. 194.

“special staff of brokers, canvassers”: Press Releases, December 15, 1929, and March 13, 1930, in Ivy L. Lee Papers, Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton University Library (Princeton, New Jersey).

“With three men holding the tripod”: Vicki Goldberg, Margaret Bourke-White: A Biography (Harper & Row, 1986), p. 114.

“was worried that Walter Chrysler”: Glenn Fowler, “Tall Lady Is Gainly and Gainful at 40,” New York Times (May 9, 1971).

“You see, this spike”: A. S. Foster, “Here and There and This and That,” Pencil Points (1930).

“What this building needs is a hat”: Theodore James, Jr., The Empire State Building (Harper & Row, 1975).

If there was one thing that challenged: Ann Douglas, Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the 1920s (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1995), pp. 434–84; Joseph J. Corn, The Winged Gospel: America’s Romance with Aviation, 1900–1950 (Oxford University Press, 1983).

In Akron, Ohio, the Goodyear Zeppelin Company: “Smith Plans Zeppelin Mast Atop 1,100 Foot New Building,” New York Herald Tribune (December 12, 1929).

As a way to win the skyscraper race: John Taurenac, The Empire State Building: The Making of a Landmark (Scribner’s, 1995), p. 187.

“the Little Nemo school of architecture”: Theodore James, Jr., The Empire State Building.

“Hear No Dirigible—See No Dirigible”: R. H. Shreve, Travel Log (1931–32).

“The directors of Empire State”: “Smith Plans Zeppelin Mast Atop 1,100 Foot New Building,” New York Herald Tribune (December 12, 1929).

“I am interested in constructing buildings”: “Smith in Capital; Explains Air Mast,” New York Evening Post (December 13, 1929).

“if it was bein’ put up”: Empire State Building Scrapbooks, Empire State Building Archive, Avery Drawings and Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University (New York, NY), no source on newspaper article.

“definitely as the tallest”: Press Release, December 16, 1929, in Ivy L. Lee Papers, Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton University Library (Princeton, New Jersey).

“she’s the most beautiful”: Faith Hackl Ward, telephone interview.

“the battle for the possession”: Andrew Eken, “The Ultimate in Skyscrapers,” Scientific American (May 1931).

In secret they continued: “Bank of Manhattan Tower Not Being Lifted,” New York Herald Tribune (March 14, 1930).

“Chrysler’s only sixty-eight stories”: Chester Morrison, “Bold Post Climber Explores Bank of Manhattan Peak,” New York Evening Post (December 26, 1929).

“This skyscraper was built”: David Bareuther, “Japanese Designs Great Towers,” New York Sun (January 11, 1930).

“the great pyramid of Cheops”: O. F. Semsch, ed., A History of the Singer Building Construction: Its Progress from Foundation to Flag Pole (Shumway & Beattie, 1908), p. 9.

After that, the Singer Building: Anthony Robins, “The Continuing Saga of the Tallest Building in the World,” Architectural Record (January 1987).

CHAPTER 17

“I feel like my own boss”: Vicki Goldberg, Margaret Bourke-White: A Biography (Harper & Row, 1986), p. 115.

“I descended fifty steps”: Margaret Bourke-White, A Portrait of Myself (Simon & Schuster, 1963), p. 77.

“Box Scores of the Havoc”: Variety (November 6, 1929).

“Sing it for the corpses”: William Klingaman, 1929: The Year of the Great Crash (Harper & Row, 1989), p. 270.

“Everywhere was the atmosphere”: Arnold Shaw, The Jazz Age: Popular Music in the 1920s (Oxford University Press, 1987), pp. 285–86.

Attendance spiked at the long-shunned: John Brooks, Once in Golconda: A True Drama of Wall Street 1920–1938 (W. W. Norton & Company, 1969), pp. 116–29.

“the newest New York became”: Elmer Davis, “Too Stately Mansions,” New Republic (June 1, 1932).

“we were about five years”: “Realty Notes,” New York Sun (July 19, 1930).

Even after several friends sat him: Benjamin G. Raskob, Patsy R. Bremer, and Mary Louise (“Boo”) Duffy, personal interview.

I don’t know whether”: Bourke-White, A Portrait of Myself, p. 77.

Those who spoke of the Empire State: Empire State, Inc., Empire State: A History (Selecting Printing Company, 1931).

Raskob secured the money: Empire State, Inc., “Resolutions for Board of Directors, March 11, 1930,” in John Jakob Raskob Papers at the Hagley Museum and Library (Wilmington, Delaware).

“I was to build the world’s tallest”: Paul Starrett, Changing the Skyline (Whittlesey House, 1938), pp. 3–14; John Taurenac, The Empire State Building: The Making of a Landmark (Scribner’s, 1995), p. 284.

With seventeen oxyacetylene torches and five derricks: Carol Willis, Building the Empire State (W. W. Norton, New York, 1998), Notes from the Construction of the Empire State.

“In this Box Lies Adolph Ochs”: Thomas Shreve, email interview.

“the powers of Aladdin’s genii”: R. H. Shreve, “The Economic Design of Office Buildings,” Architectural Forum (1931).

In reality, Shreve worked out: Thomas Shreve, email interview.

“They knew when we would need”: R. B. Shreve, “RHS—The Life of Richmond Harold Shreve” (August 1, 1984).

“Stone of this size”: David Bareuther, “Unique Brilliance for New Tower,” New York Sun (March 4, 1930).

“produce a blaze of light”: Ibid.

“so far above the earth”: New York Evening Post (March 1, 1930).

“It is the first time”: “Lauds Safety Record,” New York Times (January 19, 1930).

“You men are responsible”: “Chrysler Gives Credit to Men,” New York Telegram (January 24, 1930).

In press statements: Press Releases, January 24, 1930, April 13, 1930, and July 26, 193, in Ivy L. Lee Papers, Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton University Library (Princeton, New Jersey).

“Generally speaking, one thinks”: Yasuo Matsui, “Architect Explains Tower Height,” New York Sun (March 1, 1930).

“No, the rumor is baseless”: “Manhattan Bank Men Deny Plan to Top Chrysler Peak,” New York Evening Post (March 12, 1930).

“there wasn’t going to be any celebration”: “New Quarters Opening,” Manhattan Family (May–June 1930).

Bringing everything together was: Chrysler Tower Corporation, The Chrysler Building (Chrysler Tower Corporation, 1930), p. 15.

Each elevator cab was unique: Ibid., pp. 10–21.

“The king for a day”: “Chrysler’s Spire Formally Opened,” New York World (May 27, 1930).

CHAPTER 18

“Never before in the history”: Paul Starrett, Changing the Skyline (Whittlesey House, 1938), pp. 295–96.

On April 29, 1930, they started: Empire State Building Scrapbooks, Empire State Building Archive, Avery Drawings and Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University (New York, NY), no source on newspaper article (April 29—May 5, 1930).

To compete with Margaret Bourke-White: John Taurenac, The Empire State Building: The Making of a Landmark (Scribner’s, 1995), pp. 279–95.

Not yet satisfied, the major players: Empire State Building Scrapbooks (1930–1931).

“The prestige of having the tallest”: Press Release—July 24, 1930, in Ivy L. Lee Papers, Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton University Library (Princeton, New Jersey).

“The world’s tallest structure”: Press Release—July 26, 1930, in Ivy L. Lee Papers, Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton University Library (Princeton, New Jersey).

“During the daytime the sun”: Press Release—July 31, 1930, in Ivy L. Lee Papers, Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton University Library (Princeton, New Jersey).

“Temporarily is the tallest”: Empire State Building Scrapbooks (July 1930).

The Empire State rose four and one-half stories: Carol Willis, Building the Empire State (W. W. Norton, New York, 1998), pp. 11–30.

August 14 marked the busiest: Carol Willis, Building the Empire State (W. W. Norton, New York, 1998), Notes from the Construction of the Empire State.

When Richmond Shreve was not chatting: Thomas Shreve, email interview.

“Windows, spandrels, steel mullions”: William Lamb, “The Empire State Building—The General Design,” Architectural Forum (January 1931).

The pace on the Empire State: Carol Willis, Building the Empire State (W. W. Norton, New York, 1998), p. 28.

“Following one of the trucks”: C. G. Poore, “Greatest Skyscraper,” New York Times (July 27, 1930).

“If all the materials”: Empire State, Inc., Empire State: A History (Selecting Printing Company, 1931).

“it will automatically keep glittering”: “Chrysler Spire Looks on Town,” New York Sun (August 4, 1930).

He wanted to be paid: Supreme Court of the State of New York, “William Van Alen versus Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, Reylex Corporation, W.P. Chrysler Building Corporation and National Surety Company,” 1930–31 (New York, NY).

“a lesson to other architects”: “Chrysler Architect Sues Owner,” The American Architect (January 1930).

CHAPTER 19

“Mightiest peak of New York’s”: Empire State, Inc., Empire State: A History (Selecting Printing Company, 1931).

“Eighty years ago, a very short time”: Empire State Building Scrapbooks (September 1930), no source.

“the black skeleton of a new mammoth”: Empire State Building Scrapbooks (August 8, 1930), no source. [Note: Raskob later decided to have his office on the 80th floor.]

“flag of triumph”: John Taurenac, The Empire State Building: The Making of a Landmark (Scribner’s, 1995), p. 212.

“You should have heard”: Ibid., p. 213.

Photographs of the flag raising: Empire State Building Scrapbooks (September—December 1931).

The six men who died: Carol Willis, Building the Empire State (W. W. Norton, New York, 1998), Notes from the Construction of the Empire State. [Note: Despite the heroic framing of their deaths, the details of the unfortunate events were given less attention. One tumbled down an elevator shaft; one fell from a scaffold; one was hit by a hoist; one stepped into an area where they were blasting; and the sixth’s death went unrecorded.]

“A King and a Queen Meet”: Empire State Building Scrapbooks (October 9, 1930), no source.

On November 18, the last beams: “Topping Out the Empire State Building,” Engineering News Record (January 22, 1931).

Al Smith stood next to his two grandchildren: Taurenac, The Empire State Building, pp. 227–57; Theodore James, Jr., The Empire State Building (Harper & Row, 1975); Empire State Building Scrapbooks (May–June 1930). [Note: This scene draws upon these two books and scores of newspaper articles in the scrapbooks.]

“It belongs to the kids”: Walter P. Chrysler in collaboration with Boyden Sparkes, Life of an American Workman (Dodd, Mead & Company, 1950), p. 208.

EPILOGUE

“From the ruins, lonely”: Ric Burns and James Sanders, New York: An Illustrated History (Knopf, 1999), p. 386.

It was one of the city’s great social events: “Motif of Fantasie to Predominate at Beaux-Arts Ball,” New York Herald Tribune (January 4, 1931); Christopher Gray, “An Architect Called the Ziegfeld of His Profession,” New York Times (March 22, 1998).

“it is distinctly a stunt design”: T-Square, “The Skyline,” New Yorker (July 12, 1930).

The Architectural Forum offered: Eugene Clute, “The Chrysler Building, New York,” The Architectural Forum (October 1930).

“it embodies no compelling”: Douglas Haskell, “Architecture—Chrysler’s Pretty Bauble,” Nation (October 22, 1930).

Curiously, it was Severance’s suit: Robert A. M. Stern, Gregory Gilmartin, and John Montague Massengale, New York 1930: Architecture and Urbanism Between Two World Wars (Rizzoli, 1987), p. 8.

“provided everything for their customers”: William E. Leuchtenburg, The Perils of Prosperity, 1914–32 (University of Chicago Press, 1958), pp. 246–47.

Over a million men in New York: Paul Johnson, A History of the American People (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1997), pp. 727–45; William Klingaman, 1929: The Year of the Great Crash (Harper & Row, 1989), pp. 320–27.

“It is becoming clear”: Klingaman, 1929, p. 333.

Not surprisingly, the construction: John Taurenac, The Empire State Building: The Making of a Landmark (Scribner’s, 1995), pp. 268–73.

“only for one day”: Faith Severance Hackl Stewart, personal interview.

“a promise, a hope, a gambler’s optimism”: New Republic (July 8, 1931).

“From the stories [I read]”: R. H. Shreve, Travel Log (1931–32).

“So there they stand”: “Too Stately Mansions,” New Republic (June 1, 1932).

For publicity purposes, Al Smith: Taurenac, The Empire State Building, pp. 267–311; Matthew Josephson and Hannah Josephson, Al Smith: Hero of the Cities (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1969), pp. 445–52.

“a victim of overwork”: Paul Starrett, Changing the Skyline (Whittlesey House, 1938).

“with such clean beauty”: Taurenac, The Empire State Building, p. 17.

“Poets in Steel”: John Fistere, “Poets in Steel,” Vanity Fair (December 1931).

“it was the first time”: R. B. Shreve, “RHS—The Life of Richmond Harold Shreve” (August 1, 1984).

“John [Raskob] should be set up”: Letter from Pierre S. du Pont to General Hugh Drum, May 21, 1948, Pierre S. du Pont Papers at the Hagley Museum and Library (Wilmington, Delaware).

“Go ahead and do things”: online article (www.rfca.org).

In the crash, the boy wonder: Maggie Ohrstrom Bryant, telephone interview; Thomas Sutton, personal interview.

“less than we paid”: 40 Wall Street, Inc., “Report as of June 30, 1956,” JPMorgan Chase Archives (1956).

Chrysler maintained control of his skyscraper: Chrysler Corporation, The Story of an American Company (Chrysler Corporation: Department of Public Relations, 1955), pp. 26–27; Vincent Curcio, Chrysler: The Life and Times of an Automotive Genius (Oxford University Press, 2000), pp. 603–65.

Like Shreve Lamb & Harmon, Severance designed: Faith Severance Hackl Stewart, personal interview.

“Dear Faith”: Letter from Bill Gowen to Faith Griswold Hackl, September 4, 1941, courtesy of George Hackl.

“unloved and unmourned”: Letter from Chesley Bonestell to Bill Estler, no date, courtesy of Ron Miller.

Desperate for someone to accept: William Edwin Squire Jr., personal interview.

“The ornamental treatment”: Lewis Mumford, “Notes on Modern Architecture,” New Republic (March 18, 1931).

On May 20, 1946, an army transport: Jay Shockley, Manhattan Company Building (Landmarks Preservation Commission, 1995).

Decades after the raising of the Chrysler: David Michaelis, “77 Stories—The Secret Life of a Skyscraper,” Manhattan, Inc. (June 1986)

On Saturday morning, July 28, 1945: Taurenac, The Empire State Building, pp. 317–31.

“Remember that our sons”: Paul Starrett, Changing the Skyline, p. 319.

“the spirit of men working”: Walter Chrysler, “Skyscrapers and Pyramids,” American Legion Monthly (1930).

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