Learning From The Defunct: A Lot Of Parts

That complicated detail has a lot of steel to support a barely-usable balcony. Ever since steel framing in big buildings began in earnest – at the time of the publication of Architectural Terra Cotta, some 25 years earlier – people had used outrigger beams to support cornices, balconies and other projections. An outrigger – annoyingly …

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The Logic of a Hybrid

The Manhattan Life Insurance Building at 66 Broadway is one of those early skyscraper that wasn’t something enough. It was the tallest building in the world for five years, taking the record from Chicago’s Masonic Temple and losing it to the Park Row Building, but somehow it’s barely remembered even among people who have some …

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Broadway-Chambers: Holding the Facade

The illustrations in old skyscraper marketing books tend to fall into two categories: pretty pictures of the exterior or main interior spaces, and construction photos. The pretty pictures are a traditional form of showing off architecture, and the construction photos were the 1900 way to show off high tech. The Broadway Chambers building’s book, because …

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Broadway-Chambers: A Cartesian Grid

The picture above, from the marketing book for the Broadway Chambers Building, is one of a sequence showing the steel frame as it was being erected. The first photo, showing columns just sticking up at grade, is dated October 26, 1899; the last regular photo is from January 18, 1900 and shows the frame topped …

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Ungainly On The Outside, But Pretty Bones

The level of ornament put on an early-1900s skyscraper like the City Investing Building can make it hard to believe that it’s all structurally supported by a steel frame. The picture above shows the Broadway entrance to the building, at the far eastern end of the long narrow neck of the building that leads to …

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