Donated to The Skyscraper Museum in 2002 by Karl Dudley "Hobey" Pierson, the grandson of Paul Starrett (1866-1957), one of the two brothers of Starrett Brothers & Eken, Inc., the album contains 511 photographs compiled in the 94-page album that document virtually every step of the construction of the Empire State Building, from the demolition of the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel to the topping off ceremony of the mooring mast. It features many detailed mini-series of the myriad processes that were required of early 20th century skyscraper construction. Images featuring bricklaying, riveting, the setting of the limestone façade, among others, along with numerous candid photographs of construction workers on the job, relaxing at lunch, receiving paychecks, etc., as well as construction managers and such dignitaries as the famous Directors of the Empire State Company, including the former Governor of New York, Alfred E. Smith, at official ceremonies. In many ways the collection adopts the format characteristic of a handmade scrapbook, as if the Empire State Building itself was recounting the story of its creation, while also keeping the charm of a family album. This volume affords insights into both the technical aspects of the construction and the human face of the army of workers and managers that created New York's signature skyscraper.


In 2003, the Museum hired a conservator to restore the photograph album, which was in fragile condition, with many pages brittle or torn. The individual photographs in the collection were then removed, assigned a unique accession number, and digitized. In 2005 the digitized images of the individual photographs, along with the page-by-page image of the full album, became a centerpiece of the Museum's online archive project VIVA2, became centerpiece of the Museum's online archive project VIVA2, an interactive interface that allowed viewers to explore the images by a range of topics, or to order them by time, or location in the building. Created in the software platform Flash, the VIVA2 site was a feature of our website until 2021 when all browsers ceased supporting the platform. This website reconstructs only parts of the original project and, although it offers less interaction than the original VIVA 2 platform, it presents its full content in a simple and practical series of menus and slideshows.

Archive: Full Item List
Guide to the Erection Views Of Empire State Building : A Photograph Album Compiled by Starrett Brothers and Eken Incorporated ca. 1929-1931