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New York

Short paper I wrote in College about the New York City Skyline and the influence the architecture has had on the "image of New York City"

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New York By: Abigail Ryan

Almost every American knows New York City and picture’s the same image when they hear those words. The New York City Skyline. This consists of the Empire state building, The Chrysler building, the 9/11 memorial and memorial pools. This ‘image’ has evolved to reflect everyday American values and traditions that have also evolved over the years. This is what helps ‘sell’ the ‘New York Experience’ to tourists. However some may argue that selling this ‘image’ is not the real New York City. Is there a ‘real’ New York City, or is it just that ‘image’? The Image that everyone knows is the real New York, one that has a rich history.

“This is an introduction to the architecture of New York City. It presents compendium of histories of more than eighty major structures, sites, and symbols, From the seventeenth century to the present.” ( Architecture of New York City by Donald Martin Reynolds Page 9 1-3). In order to understands the skylines continuing ‘evolution’ you have to understand the history behind the cities architecture. That’s all the skyline is architecture. As the architecture changes along with any other form of art, how much it changes is reflected in the final product. Take the Empire state building (completed May 1, 1931) and the Guggenheim Museum of art ( completed in 1939). In the span of eight years the architecture is almost at two different levels.

The skyline is mainly composed of skyscrapers. As technology advanced so did the designs for skyscrapers. For example the 9/11 memorial in now the tallest skyscraper in New York City. One infamous photo is one of construction workers having lunch on some of the metal beams that would later make the Chrysler building. This photo has been reproduced to promote tav shows and other pop culture references.

The progression of the architecture shows how much history the city can hold. All of those buildings where built during different decades that had different methods to building skyscrapers. This can be seen so clearly when you really look at the buildings that make up the skyline. “ In New York City there was an increase in architectural diversity with every year of the city’s rapid expansion.” ( Architecture of New York City by Donald Martin Reynolds Page 36).

While the city was expanding, many realized that the city was becoming more modern and as such many were rejecting items such as pieces of art, books, and other things because they were not modernized like the city itself. “ A French agent wrote to Governor Clinton that year (1779) offering a group of dutch paintings for sale, which he described as ‘pictures painted in oyl, on boards in black ebony frames highly polished, of these kinds the Dutch settlers brought a great many with their other furniture… I pickt them up in New York in garrets, where they had been confiscated as unfashionable when that city was ‘modernized’ ( Ashton pg 38 2-7).

As the city was changing to become more ‘modern’ many people were aware of societies values changing as well. The changes to American values were also noticed by the many people in tho city. “The conscious impulse to modernize was accompanied by a growing awareness of American culture as ‘modern’ and necessarily different from it’s european counterpart.” ( Ashton pg 38 8-9) Many styles form Europe throughout the years were reflected in the architecture of New York. “ Richard Upiohn’s Trinity church, 1846, an example of modified Gothic Revival, somehow resisting encroachment by the high scale office buildings” ( Ashton 48).

Many of the building of the city have elements that are taken from architecture from all around the world from different time periods. “ The Greek Revival gave rise to what some historians see as a new commercial building type. Although modeled after the counting house ( As described in the sections on Schermerhorn Row), it transformed the earlier type of building into a structure that was simpler and ampler, to satisfy the growing needs for more storage space and more efficient display area.” ( Reynolds 98-100) . When many became aware of this, the transition to accompany these new requirements became apparent by the amount of change in the architecture in a considerable amount of time.

The buildings are a reflection of how far the field of architecture has grown and how quickly designs can be made to reflect American value’s as they change. One example of this is the 9-11 memorial and the memorial pools. This memorial was built after the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the world trade center. Originally known as ground zero before official construction began, later on as the construction progressed the name given to the site was the 9-11 memorial. The memorial pools are where the twin tower originally stood. the memorial itself has been called a museum by some. Filled with items directly linked to that tragic day. The memorial is currently the tallest building or skyscraper in New York City.

Some of the history of New York City is what tourists are seeing as well as experiencing as they walk through the streets of New York City. Many do not notice this, they just focus on see in the main ‘sites’. They pass most of the progress that is part of the reason they are there. If you look back there was a period where New York City was known as a crime zone. No one wanted to go there let alone live there, raise there families there. Because of the dedication of countless people, both in and out of the city, New York City is now recognized around the world as a city that is a diamond in the rough. The City is known as one the art capitals of the world, others may argue that the city is now known as the one art capital in the world because of the countless galleries and museums. Many who really know what to look take the true New York City image: the architecture that makes up the skyline that is timeless to many into account.


World Cultural Guides NEW YORK Dore Ashton

Architecture of New York City Histories and Views ofImportant Structures, Sites, and Symbols Donald Martin Reynolds

Modern Architecture 2 History of world architecture Manfredo Tafuri Francesco Dal Co

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