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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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Canyons of Wall Street
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Deco Skyscrapers
Canyons of Wall Street
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Now this is Bryce Canyon in Utah; this is clearly not New York City. But I think that one of the most important and interesting things about the skyscrapers of this era is how they captured the romantic imagination of the whole country. So New York became synonymous with progress. This was one of those rare periods in American thought when the city was looked at in a relatively positive way. People began to view New York as this dynamic, powerful city, and as this great symbol of America. The tall skyscrapers and the streets, with their narrow canyons lined with tall buildings, became an image of the city that was looked at very positively. And here is Bryce Canyon, which became a national park to which more and more tourists began coming in the 1910s and the 1920s, as the railroad brought them. The canyon needed names. And this is the canyons of Wall Street. And I think it is a good indication of how the image of New York had become so powerful all across America that when you saw a tall, dark canyon, it conjured up images of New York. And, in fact, this was an image not only in places like Bryce Canyon but in cities all over the United States: In cities all over, skyscrapers began appearing that looked like New York City skyscrapers. They looked like they were built under the New York zoning law, even though these cities had no zoning laws at all. So here you have the Lincoln Leveque Tower in Columbus, Ohio, which looks as though it belongs on Wall Street. It has the vertical massing; it has the setbacks; it has the prominent tower. Or, here, on the skyline of Seattle, Washington, is another building that looks like it has been shipped out from somewhere in Lower Manhattan. And you can find this in Detroit, in Chicago, in Los Angeles, in cities all over the country where buildings are being built to look like New York skyscrapers, even though there was no requirement in these cities that they use the forms that were popular in New York.


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