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Architecture of New York

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Free «Architecture of New York» Essay Sample

New York is the most populated city in the world. New York is situated on the Atlantic coast. Being the biggest harbor in the world, the city was composed of five areas – Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, Queens, and Manhattan. Soon, they were united into one city. New York was founded in the 17th century, thus, it is a relatively young city. Despite this fact, it is one of the most developed cities. New York is famous for many things. However, the major symbol of the city is its architecture and, especially, high-rise buildings. Thus, skyscrapers represent a distinguishing feature of New York. The construction of the first skyscraper predetermined the future development of the place and these days, skyscrapers represent the hallmark of the city.

In the past, tribes of Indians lived on the territory of modern New York. The first European inhabitants appeared there in 1624 when the Dutch trading company was founded in New Amsterdam (Reitano, 2010). In two years, the governor of the city gave it to the British in return for Suriname colony (Reitano, 2010). After this, the Duke of York renamed immediately the city to New York in his honor. In 1776, the greatest battle for US independence happened in Brooklyn (Reitano, 2010). However, the Americans were defeated. New York became the British political and military base. Only seven years later, the Americans seized New York (Reitano, 2010). In the 19th century, the size of New York grew swiftly due to increased flow of immigrants (Reitano, 2010). At this time, the city architecture plan was initiated.

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Architecture of New York developed gradually and slowly. Every period in its evolution was marked by the construction of highly original buildings. According to the estimates of the specialists, there are more than 800 buildings in New York that are of the great interest both from an architectural and historical point of view (Priwer & Phillips, 2009). However, New York skyscrapers are regarded as the most attractive and unusual for tourists. In 2015, there were 100 skyscrapers in New York (Fig.1). They are the constructions of steel and concrete with different purposes and styles. Today, it is impossible to imagine this city without skyscrapers. Nonetheless, not all people were happy with their dynamic building at the beginning of the 20th century (Priwer & Phillips, 2009). Engineering innovations and technological progress admired many people, although the building of skyscrapers was highly criticized by public figures and city residents. Some people claimed that these buildings spoiled the appearance of New York and, thus, it lost its identity (Priwer & Phillips, 2009). Other people expressed an opinion that the emergence of skyscrapers in the city center could result in numerous city problems such as fires (Priwer & Phillips, 2009). It was associated with the fact that the fire extinguishing technique was not suitable for high buildings. Owing to critical comments, there were attempts to constrain height of New York buildings. Nevertheless, authorities could not achieve a single opinion. Thus, they made a decision to separate the city into zones, within which certain restrictions on the height of constructions were used according to the area of the city. First skyscrapers appeared in two American cities – New York and Chicago at the end of the 19th -the beginning of the 20th century (Priwer & Phillips, 2009). This period is the first stage of skyscrapers’ building boom (Priwer & Phillips, 2009). It was the birth of traditions and the occurrence of a completely fresh kind of commercial constructions not only in the United States but also around the world.

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Many various factors had a deep influence on the building of skyscrapers. Primarily, these were attainments in technology and science such as the application of the metal frame for the building of constructions, the invention of the elevator with electric drive, and electric lighting (Panchyk, 2010). These achievements made it possible to construct solid and tall buildings with all the necessary conditions for people to work. The next factor is even more important, economic (Panchyk, 2010). After the Civil War, American cities started developing even more rapidly. It required the construction of commercial buildings (Panchyk, 2010). Thus, a high necessity of buildings that could occupy a small territory appeared (Panchyk, 2010). In such a way, skyscrapers originated from the needs of entrepreneurs and city authorities and the opportunities of the technological progress.

Initially, skyscrapers were built in Chicago. The term skyscraper was applied in the 1880s with the building of the first high-rise commercial building (Lindner, 2015). It was 42 meters high and it was called the Home Insurance Building (Lindner, 2015). After that, several years later, skyscrapers started to be constructed in New York as well. Moreover, local authorities invited Chicago architects to construct the first high-rise buildings, as the latter had more experience (Lindner, 2015). The needs of the city in skyscrapers grew extremely rapidly. They allowed using a small territory of Manhattan highly efficiently. In the first half of the 19th century, New York grew into the financial center of the country (Lindner, 2015). Different companies and banks occupied a rather small territory, the Financial Quarter on Manhattan Island.

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Several years later, the construction of skyscrapers began not only in Manhattan but in other area of New York. However, at first, it was preceded by a great tragedy. The Great Fire embraced New York in 1835 that ruined many office buildings (Lindner, 2015). After the tragedy, the city was restored and new commercial buildings emerged on the place of the former ones and they were also low like their predecessors (Lindner, 2015). In the city, there was enough space for all residents and, thus, there were no technologies and needs for the building of other types of constructions. The situation changed greatly at the second half of the 19th century when the population of the city grew rapidly. For 30 years, the number of residents living on a compact territory had raised three-fold (Lindner, 2015). The total number of people living in New York was about five million (Lindner, 2015). In such a way, the immense demand for real estate appeared. It also resulted in the increase of the price. There was a necessity to find new methods of developing New York (Lindner, 2015). The need appeared to create the most effective application of accessible land and, therefore, skyscrapers could cope with this task.

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Besides, the companies in the financial sector reached high success. They needed a greater number of employees and more working area. In addition, many big organizations had a desire to have their personal skyscrapers. For example, the Fuller Company constructed Flatiron Building for its needs (Panchyk, 2010). It is the oldest skyscraper in the city (Panchyk, 2010). Even today, it is the most unusual construction of the city. At the stage of its creation, Flatiron Building caused many disputes and discussions, the major of which were associated with its shape (Panchyk, 2010). It was built on the unfavorable area. It stands on a triangular site and the shape of the skyscraper repeats the outlines of the area. It was built in the Neo-Renaissance style (Panchyk, 2010). The questions rose about the stability of the skyscrapers. The height of the building is 93 meters and the triangular shape was a bold decision with such parameters (Panchyk, 2010). The architect created a powerful steel frame, the purpose of which was to compensate the unstable shape of the building. Moreover, the triangle constructed on its wide part could confront winds. For the time of its existence, the skyscraper sustained many storm impulses and the instruments of researchers did not trace any deviations from its stable state (Panchyk, 2010). Despite the high level of criticism in turn of skyscraper at the beginning, offices and flats were bought within the first few months. It became a symbol of the city and the most popular place in New York. Today, offices of many famous companies are located in Flatiron Building (Panchyk, 2010). The most prestigious area of the skyscraper is situated on the edge. These rooms offer an impressive view of the streets of New York.

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Immediately after the emergence of the first skyscrapers, the real race for the construction of the highest buildings began. In such a way, the American industrial magnates wanted to demonstrate their power to the world. In addition, the building of skyscrapers was commercially profitable (Lindner, 2015). It was associated with the sharp cost rise of urban land, which resulted in the fact that the maximum profit from the purchased land could be received only by constructing the building in height.

Skyscrapers of New York represented contemporary buildings containing comfortable working conditions with heating and ventilation. Offices frequently contained typewriters, telephones, and pneumatic mail, due to which many women could work there as secretaries and stenographers (Flowers, 2009). Because of the good working conditions, different organizations started moving to new skyscrapers from their small office buildings. Even low-income and small companies could afford to rent cabinets in a little area of skyscraper offices (Flowers, 2009). Moreover, these buildings created new jobs, as they required many employees serving the technical needs of skyscrapers such as electricians and builders (Flowers, 2009). Therefore, the construction of skyscrapers had a number of benefits.

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The first boom of construction of high-rise buildings was at the first third of the 20th century. The major number of skyscrapers was built in the 1920s. The improvements in the construction technology and the commercial demand had a significant impact on this process (Flowers, 2009). Therefore, approximately a quarter of all skyscrapers in the Financial District were built from 1928 to 1931 (Flowers, 2009). Nonetheless, during the Great Depression, the economy of the country decreased and the building of skyscrapers was discontinued or delayed. Despite this fact, two iconic high-rise buildings of New York were built in this period –the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building (Flowers, 2009). During the building of early skyscrapers in the city, great attention was paid to architecture and design (Flowers, 2009). Architects frequently mixed styles building unique constructions, which defined the appearance of New York and made early skyscrapers highly memorable.

In addition to skyscrapers, architects of New York paid particular attention to bridges. The Brooklyn Bridge is considered the most famous and majestic. The construction of the bridge across the East River at the beginning of the 19th century seemed impossible from an engineering point of view (Prentzas, 2009). Nevertheless, it would be of great benefit from a practical point of view. The major reason of such difficulties consisted in the East River that, despite its name, was not a river. It represents a broad estuary containing sea water susceptible to tides, ebbs, and vortices (Prentzas, 2009). Besides, in terms of the quantity of vessels, it was regarded the busiest in the world. It meant the necessity for the suspended structure, and the bridge should be the longest one ever created. At the time of its construction, the 480-meter Brooklyn Bridge was the longest suspension structure in the world. For the stability of the bridge, four steel cables were used and it represented a unique design for that time. Every cable consisted of 19 plies (Prentzas, 2009). The total length of wire was 5657 kilometers (Prentzas, 2009). The steel wire was galvanized to protect the bridge from moisture. In such a way, the Brooklyn Bridge became the first bridge in the world built with the application of galvanized steel. Steel ropes were stretched between two towers rising above the surface of the water at 83 meters (Prentzas, 2009). Towers had a Neo-Gothic nature (Prentzas, 2009). It gave the roadway even more support. The bridge is the incarnation of the industrial revolution. It has become one of the symbols of New York. The Brooklyn Bridge is certainly one of the most beautiful engineering and architectural constructions in the world.

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A skyscraper is the major building form associated with New York. It has moved arguably many residential and commercial areas from low to high level. Surrounded mainly by water, New York includes one of the biggest and most varied collections of skyscrapers in the world. Thus, New York can be called the city of skyscrapers. Their construction started at the beginning of the 20th century. Flatiron Building, the oldest skyscraper in the city, seems insignificant and small today among other tall buildings in New York. In addition to skyscrapers, bridges are one more symbol of the city and the Brooklyn Bridge is the most famous one. The architecture in New York was designed for the comfort of people due to the increase in the population of the city.

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