The Skyscraper and the City on the Cityroom Blog

jacket image
The New York Time‘s City Room blog published a post this morning on Gail Fenske’s new book, The Skyscraper and the City: The Woolworth Building and the Making of Modern New York. City Room contributor Sewall Chan writes:

The book provides a new perspective on some of the most notable aspects of the Woolworth Building, like its eclectic design—Beaux-Arts with Gothic ornamentation, over steel-frame engineering.…
Its Gothic gestures suggested comfort, “moralizing evocations” of the old world from which many of Woolworth’s customers had come, [and] by turning to Beaux-Arts design, Professor Fenske writes, Gilbert and Woolworth “resisted the forces of sensationalism and spectacle” associated with advertising and mass culture.…
Summarizing the legacy of the Woolworth Building, Professor Fenske writes:
“Woolworth and Gilbert’s project represented in the eyes of contemporaries more than a vulgar contraption for producing a profit, and more than a dubious expression of corporate power, egregious advertising, or an aggressive assault on New York’s new signature skyline.”
As the building approaches its centennial, she argues, New Yorkers should recognize not only its “aesthetic distinction” but also how “it reflected and refracted the many dreams and obsessions of the urban society that produced it.”

Read the full posting on the NYT‘s City Room blog.