Skyscrapers looked more imposing, somehow, in the black-and-white photographs from a bygone era. Maybe it's the absence of the reflective glass facades with their false sky intervals and over-abundance of bland stone walls... Or maybe it's the (barely visible) spiderwebs spread between the towers by the energetic Peter Parker? Perhaps it's glamorous ladies entering a glitzy club, or the aromas emanating from a genuine Jewish Deli?.. Either way, New York of 1920s-1960s period is a very special place indeed:
(1931 Gotham City skyline, click to enlarge on Shorpy, photo by Samuel Gottscho)
Thanks to the wonderful Lileks site, many old postcards have been preserved and proudly displayed with fascinating history attached. One thing to notice, is that the wonderful structures of that era seem to benefit from the open and uncluttered urban landscape of the time (less build-up, more parking lots, more empty space), easily commanding the attention they justly deserve.
The Building that stood before the World Trade Center:
Hudson Terminal Building covered two full square blocks and was every bit as massive as the World Trade Center towers built on the same space later. It was truly one of the largest office building in the world... Looks very imposing, almost on the verge of being oppressive:
Found through Skyscraper City display of the vintage color photographs of American cities, the exceptional Charles W. Cushman Collection shows New York in 1941 and 1960 - and it looks great, even with its gaudy "pulp-ish" color scheme.
It is also fascinating to compare the skylines of yesteryear with modern "commercial jungle" landscape:
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