Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Rival Peaks

The Empire State Building (on the right) and the Chrysler Building (left) have been competing stepsisters ever since they were conceived in the late 1920s during a period construction boom in New York City.

The Chrysler Building designed by architect, William Van Alen broke ground on September 19, 1928 and was expected to be the tallest skyscraper in the world, surpassing the then record holder, 40 Wall Street, which was under construction at the time. Not to be outdone, architect H. Craig Severence secretly added an additional 2 feet (0.6 meter) onto the 40 Wall Street structure but William Van Alen also secretly constructed a 125-foot (58.4 meters) spire from inside the Chrysler Building. In the mist of all this competition, the developers for the Empire State Building jumped into the fray by announcing the construction of an even taller skyscaper.

40 Wall Street (927 feet/283 meters/72 floors) was finally completed in 1930 and claimed the record for the tallest skyscaper in the world from the Woolworth Building (792 feet/241 meters/55 floors) for only a couple of months before the Chrysler Building (1,046 feet/319 meters/77 floors) opened in May 1930. The Empire State Building (1,250 feet/381 meters/102 floors) took over the record a year later in May 1931.

Which of the two buildings do you prefer?