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Columbia University Digital Knowledge Ventures The Architecture and Development of New York City with Andrew S. Dolkart
image The Birth of the Skyscraper The Future of the City
Social Indicators
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The Future of the City
Social Indicators
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There were far more office workers in this building when it was finished in 1915 than there would be today because technology has lowered the number of workers needed. But when there were large numbers of secretaries, and large numbers of people keeping ledger books, there were enormous office staffs using these buildings. So this building was an economic engine. It was not designed to be beautiful, although beauty certainly is important here because you wanted to attract tenants. It was designed to make money. And buildings on this scale are also an indication of the change in the office market. The social change and the expansion of office workers meant there were large numbers of women working in buildings like this, as women were becoming more a part of the office staff. In the nineteenth century, offices maybe consisted of four, five, or six people at the most. But in the twentieth century, office staffs could be in the hundreds or thousands, and there is an expansion of the office bureaucracies, which is very evident in large buildings like this. But this was one of the last buildings in New York built as just a bulky box, because in 1916, New York passed America's first zoning law, which basically banned the construction of buildings like the U.S. Trinity and Equitable Buildings.
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