The idea for the Empire State Building is said to have sparked from a competition between Walter Chrystler and John Jakob Raskob. Chrystler was the founder of the Chrystler Corporation and Raskob was the vice president of General Motors. The two business men were fierce competitors and they decided to see who could erect the tallest building. The Chrystler Building was already being built when the construction race began. Raskob proved that he is not to be bested as he built the taller of the two buildings and did so at an astonishing rate. The art-deco style building was erected in just over a year, ahead of schedule and under-budget.
The construction of the building happened during The Great Depression and employed over three thousand men on any given day at high pay rates. The building instilled a sense of New York pride in a time where job prospects and general life were bleak in the city.
Lewis Hine, one of our favorite photographers, was hired to capture the building of this great monument, but his work ended up focusing much more on the builders than the actual building. He refereed to these images as 'work portraits' and they were his manner of recording character not just architecture. Some of the portraists are shown above.
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