Looking North From The Empire State Building

The view looking north toward Central Park from the Empire State Building on September 11, 1933. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Gottscho-Schleisner Collection.

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The view in 2011:


When the Empire State Building was completed in 1931, it stood far above any of its Midtown neighbors.  However, in the past 80 years the other buildings between the Empire State Building and Central Park have begun creeping upward.  The Empire State Building was still the tallest when the 2011 photo was taken, but the skyscrapers are noticeably taller.  The Rockefeller Center, which blocks out part of the view of Central Park in the 1933 photo, stands out in the first photo, but now the 70-story building seems to blend in with its surroundings.  Today, the Empire State Building is no longer the tallest in the city, or even in Midtown – it has since been displaced by 432 Park Avenue, with two even taller residential skyscrapers on West 57th Street in the works.

Empire State Building (6)

The view of the upper east side of Manhattan from the top of the Empire State Building in 1932. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Gottscho-Schleisner Collection.

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The same view in 2011:


Quite a lot has changed in the Manhattan skyline since 1932 – the two photos show the contrast between the early 20th century skyscrapers, which were mandated to have step-like setbacks, and the sleek, box-like modern skyscrapers of 2011.  However, many of the old skyscrapers survive today, especially in the foreground.  The most prominent in the 1932 picture, the Chrysler Building, is still easily seen from the Empire State Building today, although today it is more its distinctive spire, rather than its height alone, that sets it apart from the rest.