Hidden Technology Transfer

When people took the idea of braced iron frames from bridges and started using it for buildings, it was clear for all to see, at least during construction. Before the metal framing was hidden by brick or terrace cotta, it was visible above the construction fences surrounding the building sites. I’ve put up any number …

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Woolworth: Caissons

The book A History of the Singer Construction that I was mining last week is not unique. The position of skyscrapers in the early twentieth century – interesting expressions of the high-tech of the day, accessible to view by any passers-by – meant that they were popular subjects for magazines and newspapers, and that publicity …

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Singer: Caissons

There’s a stereotype that New York’s skyscrapers are all founded on shallow bedrock. There used to be a myth that skyscrapers were clustered around Wall Street and midtown because that’s where bedrock was high, making the foundations cheap. There are a lot of problems with this story, starting with the fact that if people only …

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Under Our Feet

Everyone knows that New York has subways, so even people new to the city who are fascinated to hear the sound of a train though a grating in the sidewalk are not surprised by it. The underground structures for other trains, including the station yard for Grand Central, are something else entirely. The yard is …

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