Building the Empire State

Mon, May 1, 2023
WW Norton, 1998

Constructed in eleven months, the 1250-foot Empire State Building, the world's tallest skyscraper from 1931 to 1971, was a marvel of modern engineering. The frame rose more than a story a day; no comparable building since has matched that rate of ascent. The construction was orchestrated by general contractors Starrett Brothers & Eken, premier "skyline builders" of the 1920s. From their records, the company compiled an in-house notebook.

Twenty-five years ago, in 1998, the hardcover edition of Building the Empire State was the first publication from the archives of the newly-founded Skyscraper Museum. The book is still in print with WW Norton, now in paperback. Join the authors of the historical essays that frame the original manuscript notebook of the buildings Starrett Brothers & Eken, Carol Willis and Don Friedman, for a look back at the book and the building. Appropriately, our online program will take place on the 92nd anniversary of the Empire State's opening day!

Donald Friedman

DONALD FRIEDMAN, president of Old Structures Engineering, has thirty years of experience as a structural engineer, working on both the construction of new buildings and the renovation of existing structures. He is the author of several books, including Historical Building Construction (1995, rev. 2010). His book, The Structures of Skyscrapers in America, 1871-1900: Their History and Preservation (APT, 2020) surveys the development of high-rise buildings across the country in the last decades of the nineteenth century.

Carol Willis

CAROL WILLIS is an architectural historian and the founder of The Skyscraper Museum.


The video begins with an illustrated talk by Carol Willis and Donald Friedman and is followed by a Q&A.