Skyscrapers of New York City

Antique Images

 

Skyscraper is a very tall, multistoried building. The name appeared in the 1880s. The key technological development for the rise of skyscrapers was the passenger elevator, before that the construction of buildings, with more than five floors, was not practical and the tallest structure in New York City was the spire of Trinity Church. In the Bowling Green, however, there was Adelphi Hotel, with six floors, destroyed in the Great Fire of 1845. The six-story Gilsey Building, 169-171 Broadway, was completed in 1854.

New York City's first skyscrapers were built along Broadway and Park Row in the 1870s (see illustration below). The race started in 1868, with the construction of the Equitable Life Building, completed in 1870, in Manhattan, with seven above-ground stories and two basement levels. It is considered to be the first skyscraper in New York.

About 1873, another skyscraper was completed: the Old Mutual Life Building, also with seven above-ground stories plus a tower clock. In 1875, the Tribune Building, in Park Row, was completed with nine floors. In the same year, the Western Union Telegraph Building, ten stories tall, was completed.

The first skyscraper to use a steel frame system of construction was the Tower Building, at 50 Broadway, completed in 1889. A much taller edifice was completed in 1890: The World Building, in Park Row.

There followed a kind of competition for the construction of taller buildings, some were the tallest in the world, for some time, and the most famous of them was the Empire State Building.

 

 

Antique photos of NYC

 

 

 

Canyon

 

 

 

Singer building NY

 

 

American Tract building NYC

 

Skyscrapers

 

 

Canyon of skyscrapers on Broad Street, Lower Manhattan. Vintage postcard by Manhattan Post Card Publishing Co., postmark 1957.

 

Municipal Building images

 

Gillender Building

 

Manhattan skyscrapers

 

The iconic Chrysler Building, completed in 1930, was the tallest building in the world for a few months, before the Empire State Building. Vintage postcard from the 1930s.

 

Early Skyscrapers

 

New York Skyline images

 

Adelphi Hotel

 

Tribune building

 

Modern Manhattan skyscrapers at dusk, in 2018, with a focus on the 4 Times Square Building (with H&M clothing store signs) and the angled Bank of America Tower (Photograph in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division).

 

United Nations Buildings

 

Manhattan Life Building

 

Old Mutual Life Building

 

40 Wall Street

 

Tower Building

 

Below, early skyscrapers in New York City were built along Park Row and Broadway in the 1870s (fragment of a 1875 illustration by Charles Parsons and Lyman Atwater, with additional text).

 

NY Times building

 

American International Building

 

 

Park Row images

 

Woolworth Building

 

Decker Building

 

Empire State Building

 

Chrysler Building images

 

Saint Paul Building

 

World Building

 

Copyright © Geographic Guide - Antique photographs of NYC.

 

Washington Building

 

Empire State images

 

Rockefeller Center

 

Flatiron images

 

 

WTC

 

 

 

 

 

 

Equitable building old

 

 

 

 

Antique photographs

 

 

 

Skyscrapers of New York City