- Paperback: 380 pages
- Publisher: iUniverse (January 8, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0595163602
- ISBN-13: 978-0595163601
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #257,695 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Skyscraper Dreams: The Great Real Estate Dynasties of New York
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"Superb reporting on the industry's wheeling and dealing." -- The New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Tom Shachtman is an author, documentary filmmaker, and teacher. He has written 25 books for adults and children, as well as award-winning documentaries for all the major television networks. His adult histories, which cover points of change in the twentieth century, have been regularly described as ?fascinating,? ?filled with illuminating detail,? ?highly readable,? and as written ?with passion and clarity.?
Top customer reviews
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1) It clearly illustrates through the examples of several developers, how fortunes and empires were made, and sometimes lost. Real Estate, we know, is a cyclic industry, and thise who are caught highly leveraged in a downturn are most likely killed by it, sometimes literally.
2) If you are an architect or a construction fanatic, a history bluff or just love New York, you will learn about the history of New York's most famous office buildings, and their builders.
3) If you are a business student or simply like to read business books and biographies, you will find that this book also talks about how deals were done in New York; who, how and when financing was achieved by most developers.
Keep in mind that this book is dated, since it was written in 1991. However, the lessons and stories are a pleasure to read and most dealings techinques have no expiration date.
The book Skyscraper Dreams; The Great Real Estate Dynasties of New York by Tom Shachtman covers the dreams and despair of the visionary real estate moguls that built and traded the skyscrapers of New York like Monopoly properties in the board game.
The book visits most big name real estate operators starting with the nineteenth century's John Jacob Astor and the Roosevelts, Beekmans and Rockefellers to the Tishmans, Rudins and Roses who came to this country penniless. Then it moves into the flamboyant developer "Big Bill" Zeckendorph, who they say was the model for Donald Trump. Then there is the master of the real estate universe Harry Helmsley and the Kennedys, Tisches, LeFreks and many others dynasties that made and sometimes lost fortunes in the violent cycles of the New York real estate market.
The concept that hit me the hardest and stayed with me was how Harry Helmsley danced through the decades while building an empire, counting on inflation to make his fortune. He would scoop up properties in tough recessionary markets and count on a turn around that he knew would inevitably come to lift prices and build fortunes. While many of the empire builders in this group stretched and overextended by taking on more projects than could be carried during a slowdown, Harry was slow and steady, over the course of several decades, constantly accumulating income producing properties and running a tight ship, always chipping away at expenses. Many of the names above ran into financial squeezes, even bankruptcy during a real estate slump, often to reinvent themselves, and make remarkable comebacks.
The book gives you a refreshing insight into not only the actions of many real estate icons but the thoughts behind those actions. Sometimes cut thought competitiveness played in pushing architectural limits to add another 100 feet on a building so it's taller than a competitor; other times great compassion played in setting the tone for modern day philanthropy.
It's always a boost to read about an immigrant who came to America on borrowed boat fare and rose through this countries capitalistic society to own some of New Yorks most prized possessions.
I loved the book, it's about doers, people that made it happen!
By Kevin Kingston author of, "A 20,000% Gain in Real Estate"