Nearest Thing to Heaven: The Empire State Building and American Dreams by Mark Kingwell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
You may think this book is a "history of the Empire State Building" and although it does gloss over some historical facts about the quintessential building that commands that New York skyline, this is more about its iconic status. Kingwell spends the first couple of chapters discussing the background of the building, and other New York skyscrapers, past and present, and how each became (or not) icons of the Empire city. Unlike the previous Twin Towers that were destroyed in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the Empire State Building is constructed in such a fashion that a plane would disintegrate but the building would still stand. For New Yorkers and visitors alike, the building represents the unmovable spirit of the city. It also symbolizes different things to different people. A tourist may view the building differently than a local. Regardless, it is an icon of the city and for many, symbolizes and celebrates the spirit of freedom of the city and of the nation.
Beyond the first two chapters, the book tends to go off on dry tangents about skyscrapers and architecture. There are some other redeemable chapters that discuss the use of the Empire State Building in pictures and movies. This book would likely appeal more to architects and students of the subject. It is worth the read of the first couple of chapters and the last couple of chapters for anyone else.
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