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Empire State Building: When New York Reached for the Skies

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Discusses the history, design, and construction of New York City's Empire State Building.
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Discusses the history, design, and construction of New York City's Empire State Building.
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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
Best are the illustrations, from Witschonke's realistic, full-spread cityscapes and diagrams to reproductions of period photos, including the famous shots taken by Lewis Hine during construction, some "from the end of a crane cable that suspended him in the air nearly a quarter of a mile above the ground." Mann's word for the view up there, "knee-weakening," is exactly right. —Elizabeth Ward
Publishers Weekly
Young history and architecture buffs may appreciate the detailed information presented in Empire State Building: When New York Reached for the Skies by Elizabeth Mann, illus. by Alan Witschonke, the latest in the Wonders of the World series. Mann delineates the origins of the building, beginning with the business partnership between Al Smith and John Raskob. Well- labeled illustrations offer further explanations of the numerous columns, piers and other structural elements that combine to create this majestic skyscraper. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Using the Empire State Building as the template, the author opens with a fine review of building techniques that enabled Al Smith, failed presidential candidate, to regain the limelight in New York City. She then details the building of the once-tallest building in the world (until the first World Trade Tower was build). Weight-bearing walls had given way to iron and then steel constructions with hung curtain walls that could withstand the pressure of added stories. Otis had perfected the elevator. And competition for the world's tallest building, with this construction vying for the title against the Chrysler Building, spurred Smith and his partner to plan an even taller structure with dirigible mooring atop. Mann draws on the period photographs of Lewis Hine to accompany Witschonke's paintings and a double gatefold depicts the rather strict geometry of the building, plus the setbacks that allowed for less shadow cast on the surrounding neighborhood. This volume works well with Mann's many other "Wonders of the World Books" to give young readers a taste of the things builders consider in constructing mammoth structures, the settings and history into which these structures are inserted, and the sheer enormity of moving bricks, erecting scaffolding, feeding the machines, and removing detritus. One touching photograph shows the woodpile from which Depression-era poor could take firewood that Smith had made available from leftover scraps cut to stove lengths. It is this sort of detail that makes Mann a master of the nonfiction genre. 2003, Mikaya Press, Ages 10 to 14.
—Susan Hepler, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-Mann's exploration of this New York City icon will capture the imaginations of report writers and general readers alike. The book begins with a discussion of the ambitious plan of two New Yorkers to build the tallest skyscraper and the architectural advances that made this 86-floor building possible. The author covers the competition that resulted from the simultaneous construction of the Chrysler Building, the real story behind the dirigible mast, and the speed of the construction. Labeled, full-page color illustrations help explain concepts. A captioned gatefold details design elements and gives a sense of the incredible height of the building. Numerous black-and-white pictures throughout the volume, and in a month-by-month sequence of photos, depict the construction process. The book concludes with photographs of significant events since the skyscraper's construction, a page of fast facts, a brief glossary, and a map of New York City locating the building. An ideal resource for classes working on architectural projects and a top choice for general reading.-Delia Fritz, Mercersburg Academy, PA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
New York Magazine
The Top Five... A detailed story of the construction and profiles of the millionaires and laborers involved.
Booklist / RBB - Kay Weisman
Mann writes clearly and concisely, never sacrificing the drama of the story... Period photos and Witschonke's full-color artwork add much to the text.
The Virginian-Pilot - Krys Stefansky
A fascinating narrative... an excellent inside look at the birth of this landmark.
Washington Post - Elizabeth Ward
Mann writes with clarity about the technical aspects... and with verve about the building's inspiring effect on New Yorkers... Best are the illustrations.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
The glamour girl of the New York skyline gets the star treatment in this overview of her planning and construction.
Canadian Materials - Gail Hamilton
With interesting facts ranging from building inspection and safety issues to the delivery of food and materials to the upper floors, Empire State Building provides readers with plenty of history and even a bit of physics.... Mann draws readers in with her writing style, taking them back to New York City, circa 1930. She not only explains construction techniques and other technical information clearly, but she also gives readers a sense of the thinking process behind the building's design and the problem-solving that went on as the project progressed. Yet it is her focus on the human stories that will most captivate readers. Abundant coloured and black and white archival photographs, maps and paintings provide additional information and enhance the text. There are numbered diagrams showing the sequential steps in various construction techniques as well as a double foldout page showing the month-by-month progress of the construction. A well-written account of a tremendous architectural feat. Highly Recommended.
Bank Street College Children's Book Committee
Book of Outstanding Merit
National Council for the Social Studies and The Ch
Notable Children's Book in the Field of Social Studies for 2004
National Council of Teachers of English
Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children, Honor Book, 2004
National Council for the Social Studies and the Children's Book Council
Notable Children's Book in the Field of Social Studies for 2004
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442051706
  • Publisher: Baker & Taylor, CATS
  • Publication date: 7/10/2009
  • Series: Wonders of the World Book Series
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.25 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Mann has written nine Wonders of the World books, an award-winning series. She is former teacher in New York, holds an M.S.E. and is cofounder of Mikaya Press.

Alan Witschonke is the illustrator of four Wonders of the World books: The Brooklyn Bridge, Empire State Building, The Great Wall and Hoover Dam.

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Customer Reviews

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