I was recently introduced to the “Free to Use and Reuse Sets” at the Library of Congress website. This is simply public domain material that was already available at the LoC, but grouped together for public use and made easier to navigate. Some of it, for example, comes from HABS/HAER and some comes from the Detroit Publishing Company, to name two LoC sources that I’ve been mining for several years. In any case, the first thing I did was click on the link “Free to Use and Reuse: Skyscrapers” to see if there was anything there I didn’t know, and, of course, there was.
The picture above was taken by Irving Underhill, but is later than most of his work that I’ve featured here. It’s from 1930 and focusses on the Chrysler Building.
Chrysler is in the center, with its shiny pointed crown sticking up above everything else. The very tall, blocky building on the left is the Lincoln Building at 60 East 42nd Street, the slender tower with a bunch of obelisk-finials just to the right of Lincoln is the Lefcourt Colonial Building at 295 Madison Avenue, the squarish tower to the right of Chrysler is the Chanin Building at 42nd and Lexington Avenue (i.e., diagonally across the street from Chrysler), and the shorter white-striped building on the right is the Daily News Building at 42nd a bit east of Third Avenue. It’s probably worth mentioning that, in 1930, Chrysler was the tallest building in the world, and Lincoln and Chanin were sixth and seventh. This cluster of buildings represents an enormous amount of high-end office space (I believe Lincoln has the largest square footage of the group) and it was built because of the effect of Grand Central Terminal (hidden behind Lincoln in the photo) making real estate nearby more valuable.
Expect to see more here from this source.
(One last thing, an oddity from the LoC. The keywords for this photo are “Chrysler Building (New York, N.Y.)–1930”, “Skyscrapers–New York (State)–New York–1930”, and “Cathedrals–New York (State)–New York–1930”. There is no cathedral in sight, unless the LoC is making the unusually-political statement that New Yorkers worship skyscrapers or, perhaps, mammon.)