The central theme of this well researched history of architecture, urban planning, and real estate is that in the design of office buildings, form, space, and money are all intricately bound up with one another. This convincing hypothesis is presented in the form of a comprehensive and comparative look at the skylines of two major turn-of-the-century cities, which are also two of the most illustrious American metropolises: Chicago and New York. What differentiates this book from other histories of the skyscraper is its emphasis on economics as the chief factor in the determination of form, as well as on municipal codes, land-use patterns, and zoning. It is also an urban history and an agile investigation into the forces that shaped the tallest buildings in America. It is fascinating to learn, for instance, how new formal solutions for office buildings emerged, exactly how the height of the Empire State Building was determined, and how economics contributed to the vast majority of these and other design decisions.
Seldom does a title summarize so tersely and completely the contents of a book as does that of Carol Willis's brisk, lucid investigation into the foreces that shaped the prodigious tall buildings of America's two major turn-of-the-century metropolises. Martin Filler, New York Times Book Review
A fascinating document for banker, developer, and architect alike. Matthew Barnett Howland, World Architecture