Thursday, February 7, 2008

Higher - 4 Stars

Higher: A Historic Race to the Sky and the Making of a City, Neal Bascomb (4 Stars)

The 1920's was all about reaching new heights in America - the roaring 20's emphasized a fast-paced lifestyle where there were no limits. It was this "anything goes" attitude that led to the construction of skyscrapers in New York City that were just as much a symbol of the times as they were practical business investments. In this book that chronicles the race to be the tallest between 3 New York landmarks - the Chrysler Building, 40 Wall Street, and The Empire State Building - egos collide, markets tumble, and relationships are broken. The author weaves a very readable tale that focuses on both the financial and architectural icons who led to the construction of these buildings. If bricks and mortar also interest you, then this will do the trick as well. Throughout the book you are taken to the construction sites and learn what its like to catch a burning hot rivet a quarter mile up in the air, all while balancing on a single beam and bracing against high winds and frigid temperatures. Overall, a very good book that manages to tell the "story" of these now prominent buildings.

I picked up this book a year ago when we first moved to NYC but couldn't really get into it. Our friend Gary recommended and loaned it to Jon, who read it and loved it. I found it in my nightstand a couple of weeks ago and decided to give it another go, if for nothing else then to be able to return it to it's rightful owner and get one more thing out of our apartment. This time around not only did I get into it - I loved it! I find myself looking at the buildings in a different light and appreciating them so much more, not just in the present but what they represented when they were built.

Next up, a stop at the Skyscraper Museum in Battery Park. I'll make sure to blog on it when we go!

No comments: