Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: EMPIRE STATE BUILDING: The Making of a Landmark
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on September 24, 2001
This is an excellent work that details the history of the Empire State Building. I was a bit surprised to find how much the author managed to pack into my paperback. Everything from skyscraper height restrictions to land leases and modern restructuring of ownership for tax purposes (and all the "interesting" stuff in between). If you buy this book and you're not from New York, do yourself a favor and get a map of the area. So you can follow along in the early chapters.
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on January 27, 1999
Fairly well written book, that can be roughly divided into three parts. The author knows and loves NY, and he loves its' history and buildings and other landmarks.
The first third includes a well-researched overview of the advent of skyscrapers in general, with emphasis on New York buildings. The economic factors at work and the arcana of NYC zoning laws are explained, but not tediously so. The author sets the stage well, and shows us his characters and what motivates them.
The second third describes the mechanics of constructing the building. Plenty of detail, good explanations.
The last third covers the history of the building from its' opening down to the present-day.
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on March 18, 1999
This book is the best book I've read on the building. It is very informative, and has many good pictures. There have been some quite well written books on the Empire State Building, but no other comes as close as John Tauranac's The Empire State Building, The making of a landmark.
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on August 11, 2000
This is not a coffee table book of glossy color photographs of this most striking building. Nor is it a dry recitation of architectural, engineering and construction quantities, concepts and terms. Rather, it is a seriously researched and entertainingly written history of the time, events and personalities leading to the conception and creation of the world's most famous skyscraper. Tauranac successfully tackles the challenge of explaining how this mere assemblage of steel and stone has attained such mystical status and continues, 70 years later, to attract admirers. This is a "must read" for the serious ESB fan, or for anyone interested in how this architectural icon was created.
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on October 8, 2004
Well, they didn't, but it's a classic anyway.

This is a terrific book for anyone who wants to learn how great projects are visualized, actualized, and pressed through extremely challenging environmental circumstances. It's a source of inspiration for the dreamers and the practical alike.

If you want to read about architecture and engineering, you get only a small dose here. It's more about the capitalization, visioning and building. But that story is magnetic and wonderful.

Only thing they left out: that it was to this (then half-empty) building that Annhaeuser-Busch delivered the "first" case of legal beer to Al Smith at the end of Prohibition. Smith, the "wet" and the eternal optimist, exemplifies what this building was conceived to be: a vibrant and living testimony to the human spirit.

So, it stands to reason that it survives now as New York's essential symbol.
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on July 2, 2004
From the outset, the Empire State Building seemed to have had everything going against it. Although conceived during the 1920s boom years, most of the construction went on during the earliest years of the Depression, thereby putting the idea of high occupancy in the severest doubt. Its location wasn't ideal either. It was three miles north of the Wall Street district and a mile south of the center of the midtown business center. And it was ten blocks south of Grand Central Station and three avenues east of old Pennsylvania Station. The idea of mooring dirigibles was quickly scrapped after failed attempts. And sure enough, although the Empire State Building did get built, the tenants did not come. King Kong did, but he didn't pay rent.
John Tauranac describes all this and more in his exhaustive book, THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING: THE MAKING OF A LANDMARK. Written in an engaging style, Tauranac's book is as elegant and interesting as the subject itself, while his wit is as colorful as the characters surrounding the Empire State Building's creation. The book covers the idea for the building, Raskob's and Smith's supervision, the monumental task of the construction workers, and, most importantly, the survival of the building to become THE emblem of America's cultural and economic reach while become THE identifying symbol of New York City. The generous amount of photographs add to the understanding and enjoyment of the book. Highly recommended.
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on June 26, 2015
This is a superb book -- an extremely readable account of the building of America's greatest skyscraper. The only flaw in the book is that in an otherwise crystal-clear book, Tauranac uses too many terms from architecture and construction without explaining them. The book is still perfectly appropriate for a lay audience, but it would have been even better if I had the context that understanding these terms would provide.
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on February 13, 2014
I was expecting a book along the lines of Skyscraper: The Making of a Building by Karl Sabbagh. It tells the story of the construction of Worldwide Plaza. However, there is really very little in Tauranac's book about actually building, with only one chapter devoted to the actual construction. A shame, really, as some of the techniques used were pioneering at the time.

This is not to say that this is not a good book. It does give an overall history of the development of the urban landscape in Manhattan during this period. If you're looking for a book about the era that produced a landmark building, then this is the book to get. However, if you're looking for something about the Empire State Building detailing its actual construction, then you won't find it here.
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VINE VOICEon August 11, 2004
This book is a must read for anyone interested in not only the Empire State Building, but in New York City history of the late 1920s and early 1930s. Who would think that a building completed in 1931 at 1250 feet high would still be the tallest building in NYC in 2007 (of course, we can't forget the tragic loss of the taller WTC Towers). This book covers the quick construction of the ESB, but also covers the politics and history behind the building's location (the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel used to be at the corner of 5th Ave and 34th Street) and the people involved. This is an interesting book about an exciting time where anything seemed possible in one of the world's greatest cities.
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on July 7, 2001
I bought this book shortly after a trip to NYC in 2000, and found it to be an excellent history of one of the Big Apple's architectural jewels, the Empire State Building. It is full of intrigue, history, great anecdotes and one-of-a-kind photographs. If you're a visitor to Manhattan or a local resident, you owe it to yourself to read this book.
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