Monday, May 01, 2006

A Towering Achievement

[[E V E N T S]] * On this 75th anniversary of the opening of New York City’s soaring, Art Deco Empire State Building, much will be written to honor what was originally (and, since the September 11, 2001, terrorist destruction of the World Trade Center, is again) the tallest skyscraper--with 102 stories--in a metropolis rampant with competing skyscrapers. In fact, much has already been written. (Check out The New York Times’ special City section edition of commemorative stories, especially Mark Kingwell’s fond introductory essay and novelist Thomas Kelly’s historical account of the men who built the tower.) Having only visited the building on a couple of occasions, and not living in Manhattan, I cannot hope to compete with the eloquent tributes being paid to “New York’s Lighthouse,” as the Times calls it. But I did dig up a brief appreciation of this structure from the June 13, 1931, edition of The New Yorker. Composed by architecture critic George S. Chappell, who wrote under the nom de plume “T-Square,” it begins this way:
The world’s tallest building, the Empire State Building, still continues to command much attention, nor can we feel that contemplation of it will ever become unprofitable. Its designers, Shreve, Lamb & Harmon, have endowed it with such clean beauty, such purity of line, such subtle uses of material, that we believe it will be studied by many generations of architects, a hazardous prophecy in these days of change. Moreover, aside from its technical interest, its appeal to the layman is palpably enormous. In spite of Frank Lloyd Wright’s characteristically sweeping statement that our modern skyscrapers are all the same, we claim that this one is distinctly different, its difference and distinction lying in the extreme sensitiveness of its entire design.
Those differences still attract the eye of the observer. And, occasionally, the unwanted attention of passing giant apes.

READ MORE:King Kong’s Perch Turns 75 Monday,” by Richard Pyle (AP); “Empire State Building Turns 75,” by Justin Rocket Silverman (Newsday); “I Hear It’s Your Birthday” (Anthony Rainone’s Criminal Thoughts); “The Empire State Building, Present at the Creation” (National Public Radio); Empire State Building: Official Internet Site.

1 comment:

Anthony Rainone said...

Great quote you dug up, Jeff. Those words ring just as true today, as they did seventy five years ago. I think -- I hope -- those words will always describe this magnificent building, this remarkable identifier of New York City. Its sweep never fails to impress.