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Columbia University Digital Knowledge Ventures The Architecture and Development of New York City with Andrew S. Dolkart
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The Empire State Building
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The Empire State Building
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The Chrysler Building only remained the world's tallest building for about a year, until the Empire State Building was completed. The Empire State Building was 100 percent a speculative venture. It had no corporate name attached. Though built on Fifth Avenue and Thirty-fourth Street because this was thought to be a good location, midway between Pennsylvania Station and Grand Central Terminal, ultimately this did not prove to be such a good site after all. Both the subways and the rail terminals are a long walk away, so it was not a huge economic success.

The building was carefully designed to be the world's tallest. When the team that built it sat down with its architects, the firm of Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon, they decided they wanted to top the Chrysler. And because it is located in an area where there are very few other tall buildings, the Empire State is still, to this day, one of the most noticeable buildings on the city's skyline.

The building's lobby is just as dramatic. When you pass through the main entrance on Fifth Avenue, the first thing that you see straight ahead is a map of New York State, known as the Empire State, with a model of the building on it. In fact, many of these art-deco skyscrapers had the building's image in their lobbies. The assumption seemed to be that the building was so big, you could not actually grasp the whole of it from outside, so you were given a little model in the lobby in order to see what it was that you had just walked into. The Chrysler Building, by the way, is also painted in a mural on its lobby ceiling.


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