Building the Empire State

Carol Willis (Editor)


A rediscovered 1930s notebook charts the construction of the Empire State Building.

Constructed in eleven months, the 1250-foot Empire State Building, the world's tallest skyscraper from 1931 to 1971, was a marvel of modern engineering. The frame rose more than a story a day; no comparable building since has matched that rate of ascent. The construction of the Empire State Building was orchestrated by general contractors Starrett Brothers and Eken, premier "skyline builders" of the 1920s. They scheduled the delivery of materials and the construction and recorded daily the number of workers by trade. Compiled from these records, an in-house notebook documented the construction process. Meticulously typed on graph paper and illustrated with construction photographs, this unique document combines a professional specificity of detail with a charming rhapsody to the firm's crowning achievement.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • July 1998
  • ISBN 978-0-393-73030-2
  • 8.8 × 11.4 in / 192 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Other Formats

  1. Book CoverBuilding the Empire State


Endorsements & Reviews

“[A] remarkable document.” — Nicholas Adams, Casabella

“These notes combine the dry facts with sensitive observations....[A] welcome contribution to the history of high-rise building technology.” — Anat Geva, Ph.D., APT Bulletin: The Journal of Preservation Technology

“[P]ackaged in a handsome volume, annotated intelligently and accompanied by two excellent essays and original site photographs…[I]nstructive, interesting…” — Karl Sabbagh, Times Higher Education Supplement

“[F]illed with marvelous arcana....[b]ut it also concerns itself with serious controversies…” — New York Times