Selected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic
Title for 2010
Nowhere in the world is there a greater concentration of
significant skyscrapers than in New York City. And though this
iconographic American building style has roots in Chicago, New York
is where it has grown into such a powerful reflection of American
commerce and culture.
In Skyscraper: The Politics and Power of Building New York City
in the Twentieth Century, Benjamin Flowers explores the role
of culture and ideology in shaping the construction of skyscrapers
and the way wealth and power have operated to reshape the urban
landscape. Flowers narrates this modern tale by closely examining
the creation and reception of three significant sites: the Empire
State Building, the Seagram Building, and the World Trade Center.
He demonstrates how architects and their clients employed a diverse
range of modernist styles to engage with and influence broader
cultural themes in American society: immigration, the Cold War, and
the rise of American global capitalism.
Skyscraper explores the various wider meanings associated
with this architectural form as well as contemporary reactions to
it across the critical spectrum. Employing a broad array of
archival sources, such as corporate records, architects' papers,
newspaper ads, and political cartoons, Flowers examines the
personal, political, cultural, and economic agendas that motivate
architects and their clients to build ever higher. He depicts the
American saga of commerce, wealth, and power in the twentieth
century through their most visible symbol, the skyscraper.
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