Skyscraper Façades of the Gilded Age

Fifty-One Extravagant Designs, 1875–1910


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About the Book

This book is about the design of the façade of 51 of America’s most extravagant early skyscrapers. Included are the biographies of noted architects and the aristocrats who financed America’s first skyscrapers. This book discusses the influences of European aesthetic values in America—and scandals, rogues and class distinctions. Interpretations by contemporary critics are sprinkled throughout the text. Woven throughout the book are inquiries about the validity of Greek and Roman mythologies and their relationships to “modern” America and its spirit of invention and progress. Foreign traditions were challenged by some architects but then accepted by most. Why was it necessary for the long-dead hero of a faraway civilization to be included on the façade of a newly invented American skyscraper? This book tells why.

About the Author(s)

Joseph J. Korom, Jr., retired architect, is a Chicago historian, photographer and artist.

Bibliographic Details

Joseph J. Korom, Jr.
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 244
Bibliographic Info: 198 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7072-3
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9326-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Introduction 3
One. Ways and Means 7
Basic Questions 14
Traditional Options 19
Options for Tired Eyes 21
Two. Hopes and Dreams 28
Monadnock 30
Rooftop Dialogs 33
Building Walls and Mythology 41
Three. Togas and Parasols 48
Classicism and the Renaissance 50
Of Myths and Merriment 55
The Beaux-Arts 59
World’s Columbian Exposition 62
Four. A Time for Funny Hats 101
Variations on a Theme: The Neo-Baroque Skyscraper 102
Five. Towers, Dragons and the Stuff of Dreams 153
The Medieval Inspiration 154
The Pious Ones 155
Scary Things 157
The Great Migration 161
The Tower in Madison Square 163
Six. Eclectic Explorations 188
American Heroes 190
Conclusion 216
Chapter Notes 217
Bibliography 225
Index 229