Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Modern Wonders of the World: Empire State Building

Modern Wonders of the World: Empire State Building

Sheryl Peterson
For ages 9 to 12
The Creative Company, 2006   ISBN: 978-1583414392

It all began in the 1920’s when men who had money to invest began to build tall buildings. It made sense to do so of course because cities had very little land left for buildings to expand horizontally. The way to go was up and there were people eager to buy office and residential space in such buildings. In addition technology had advanced enough to make it possible for tall buildings to be constructed so that they were strong and safe.

As more skyscrapers appeared in American cities a kind of unwritten competition came into play: who could build the tallest building. John J. Raskob and his friend Alfred E. Smith, a former New York governor, decided that they would build the tallest building yet and that they would name it the Empire State Building. William Lamb was hired to design the building, and once the old Waldorf Astoria Hotel had been demolished in 1929 and its remains were cleared away, construction began.

Though the Great Depression started in the early 1930’s, the project continued. Men were eager to work on the building because jobs were so hard to find. They were paid well and there was always a good pool of workers to tap into. As a result of their hard work the skeleton of the building grew at the pace of a four and half floors a week. To make sure that their building really was the tallest in the world Raskob and Smith added five floors and a scenic observatory to their building. They wanted to make sure that it was taller than the newly completed Chrysler building.

And it was. The Empire State Building was opened to the public just a year and forty-five days after work began and it also ended up costing less than was expected. The stately building would remain the tallest building in the world for forty years when the World Trade Center towers took the place of honor.

This beautifully presented and well written book not only tells the story of one of the most famous buildings in the world, it also provides readers with lots of annotated pictures of the building, and boxes on every double page spread are packed with interesting details about the building and its history. Readers will also find out when the building is open to the public and what to expect if they go to visit it.

This is one of the titles in the “Modern Wonders of the World” series.