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Great Depression: The Latest Architecture and News

AD Classics: Empire State Building / Shreve, Lamb and Harmon

This article was originally published on December 5, 2016. To read the stories behind other celebrated architecture projects, visit our AD Classics section.

Even in Manhattan—a sea of skyscrapers—the Empire State Building towers over its neighbours. Since its completion in 1931 it has been one of the most iconic architectural landmarks in the United States, standing as the tallest structure in the world until the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were constructed in Downtown Manhattan four decades later. Its construction in the early years of the Great Depression, employing thousands of workers and requiring vast material resources, was driven by more than commercial interest: the Empire State Building was to be a monument to the audacity of the United States of America, “a land which reached for the sky with its feet on the ground.”[1]

Image via Wikimedia (Public Domain). ImageLaying of the tower's foundationsThe pinnacle of the tower. Image © Wikimedia user David Corby (licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)Image via Wikimedia (Public Domain). ImageUnder constructionImage via Wikimedia (Public Domain). ImageUnder construction+ 6

AD Classics: Trylon and Perisphere / Harrison and Fouilhoux

With the onset of the Great Depression in the 1930s, the great World’s Fairs that had been held around the globe since the Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1851 lost much of their momentum. With the specter of another global conflict looming like a stormcloud on the horizon in the latter half of the decade, prospects for the future only grew darker. It was in this air of uncertainty and fear that the gleaming white Trylon and Perisphere of the 1939 New York World’s Fair made their debuts, the centerpiece of an exhibition that presented a vision of hope for things to come.

Image via MetMuseum.org (Public Domain)A quarter section of the Perisphere reveals its steel skeletal structure. ImageImage via nyworldsfaircollections.tumblr.com (Public Domain)Image via nyworldsfaircollections.tumblr.com (Public Domain)The Helicline connected the Trylon and Perisphere and allowed visitors to make their way back to the ground from six stories up+ 8