Thursday, July 26, 2007

Why Does The Empire State Building Dominate?

anyone who has been to new york has to notice the tall buildings. i mean, duh, they are everywhere, but there are two buildings on the new york skyline that i feel are more iconic than most: the empire state building and the chrysler building.

both were built at the exact same time. the chrysler building was finished first and for less than a year held the title of worlds tallest building at 1,046 feet (the chrysler building is also now tied with the new new york times building which was completed this year. i happen to find the new york times building horribly ugly, taboot). when the empire state was completed it took the title away from chrysler and topped it by 204 feet.

new york times building

there is one thing that is even more striking to me about those two (three) buildings: the empire state building is so much more dominant, not only on the skyline as a whole, but from inside the city itself. i was walking home from the west village tonight up 5th avenue and i was struck by how simply dominant the empire state was. it was everywhere. you can see it clearly from the village. and from union square. and from madison square park. from everywhere. but the chrysler building, in contrast, does not dominate its surroundings, despite its height advantage, like the empire state does. i noticed that yesterday when i was walking home from the upper east side. i think it has to do with the relative height of the buildings around each building. the empire state is relatively isolated from other tall buildings, but the chrysler is surrounded by them. i guess it all has to do with perception.

i'll take it either way though. i can see both buildings from the general area of my apartment. its rather nice.

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