Very happy to have video evidence of the debate between myself and New York rock star preservation engineer Don Friedman up and online at the Skyscraper Museum’s Youtube channel (which, let’s be honest, if you’re a regular ArchitectureFarm reader, you already subscribe to…) Afterwards we realized that we forgot to take a straw poll, so Chicago remains undefeated in these debates after running the table (almost) a couple of years ago at a similar steel cage matchup in the Loop.
Don’s introduction is a good one (Chicago’s case gets made starting about 41:00 in…) in that he makes it clear that asking which city built the “first” skyscraper is, as the fantasy sports sites say, “for entertainment purposes only.” But framing the history of the high rise in competitive terms forces us to ask some good questions, like what do we mean by “skyscraper?” “Tallest?” “First?” And, the crux of Chicago’s case, in my view, whether height alone defines the type, or whether materials and systems have a role to play.
Other great bits of video on the Museum’s channel include sessions from the Ten and Taller symposium earlier this month from Lee Gray on elevator history and others on the role of residential construction, the growth of Manhattan, and Don’s project to document every single building over ten stories built in New York City–and throughout North America–before 1900. Ten and Taller also has a phenomenal website that will let you play around with the data set…unmissable, but wait until at least your lunch hour before playing with it.
Carol Willis at the Skyscraper Museum puts on a great show. And they even let me give a book talk on Chicago Skyscrapers prior to the symposium–a good audience with excellent discussion afterwards. As someone who has also cheered on the Cubs at old Shea Stadium, this had a similar vibe, but with a far friendlier crowd…