The Skyscraper Museum
The Skyscraper Museum

The Skyscraper Museum is devoted to the study of high-rise building, past, present, and future. The Museum explores tall buildings as objects of design, products of technology, sites of construction, investments in real estate, and places of work and residence. This site will look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Construction Photographs of the Empire State Building
and the World Trade Center


Required: Macromedia Flash Player, version 8

The Visual Index to the Virtual Archive 2 is an interactive interface providing access to The Skyscraper Museum's unique collection of more than 1,000 photographs of the construction of the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center towers. Visitors can explore the building progress for each project and view photographs of the rising structures, workers, machinery, ceremonies, and city scenes. Complete with captions and descriptions of the images, VIVA 2 allows visitors to discover and compare the building technologies and methods of the Empire State Building in the 1930's and of the World Trade Center towers in the 1960's and the 1970's.

Included in VIVA 2 is a scrapbook of over 500 original construction photographs of the Empire State Building compiled in 1931 by its general contractors, Starrett Brothers and Eken, giants in the building industry. The Empire State Building collection also features the "Tower of Plans," which illustrates how the area of the circulation core shrinks as the building rises while the ring of office space remains a constant 28 feet. The supplemental materials for the World Trade Center Towers include structural diagrams, floor plans, and audio clips concerning the construction of the two buildings. Leslie E. Robertson and Associates (LERA), the structural engineering firm behind the Towers, documented nearly every single stage of the construction process, allowing for virtually perfect historical record.

Guide to the Erection Views Of Empire State Building : A Photograph Album Compiled by Starrett Brothers and Eken Incorporated ca. 1929-1931
[Original artifact sizes are listed in the Finding Aid. Uncompressed Archival scans average 20 MB (8 bit color TIFF)]

Exclusive archival prints of the Empire State Building images found in VIVA2 are sold in the Museum's bookstore and can printed on request. Sample images are provided here.

VIVA 2 was created with the support of a Learning Opportunities Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, an independent Federal grant-making agency dedicated to creating and sustaining a nation of learners.

Carol Willis, Project Director

Mark Watkins, Graphical Designer
Charles Forcey, Technical Designer
Sueyoung Park, Archivist
Olga Ganitch, Archivist
Mari Nakahara, Archivist

Database Management: Matthew Pinto
Digitization, data entry, and administrative support: Ned Dodington, Erin Finch Stevens, Emma White.

World Trade Center Diagram courtesy of Guy Nordenson

In 2001, the Museum received a grant for the conservation of the Starrett scrapbook from The Conservation Treatment Grant Program, administered by the Greater Hudson Heritage Network (Greater Hudson), in association with the Museum Program of the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA).

The Institute of Museum and Library Services, an independent Federal grant-making agency dedicated to creating and sustaining a nation of learners by helping libraries and museums serve their communities, supports The Skyscraper Museum.

The Museum received support for a fellowship position for this project from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation

The project received general support from Elise Jaffe + Jeffrey Brown, Jason H. Fane, and Richard Tomasetti.

Copyright, 2006, The Skyscraper Museum