Author Freddy Langer writes an interesting short essay about Lewis Hine explaining how he became interested in using photography to expose the exploitation of child labor during the early years of the last century. These photos were used in his book 'Kids at Work' (ISBN 0395797268). His interest in photographing the workplace got him the commission to record the building of the Empire State and some of these images also appeared in his 1932 book 'Men at Work' (ISBN 0486234754).
It is a shame that the book does not give more explanation to what the craftsmen are doing in the photos. A book that does have photos (though not by Hine) and detailed captions is 'Building the Empire State' (ISBN 0393730301) edited by Carol White, it reproduces seventy-seven pages of typewritten description, some of it quite technical, that someone at Starrett Brothers, the builders, produced as a record of the construction.
The Empire State was in competition with the Chrysler Building and a book by David Stravitz, 'The Chrysler Building' (ISBN 1568983549) is a week-by-week photographic construction record of Van Allen's Art Deco masterpiece with detailed captions to the pictures. Strangely many of Hine's photos clearly show the Chrysler Building in the background.
All three books celebrate the building of two stunning New York skyscrapers.
With a glossary, index, photo's of helmeted men in 1930---daringly straddling beams above a floor of cement doom, one can relive visiting this icon or enjoy true anticipation of using one of its 73 elevators to reach for the heavens on an open aired viewing floor where everything from weddings to arm wrestling competitions take place.
Did you know they began using outdoor lights due to an aircraft bomber, lost in the fog and crashing into her 79th floor back in the 40's? And now, one can see it adorned with special lit colors--Blue was done as a tribute to Frank Sinatra, Blue & White for Churchill, and Gold for the Pope.
Yes, the building that may now not be the tallest, will forever hold a special place in our hearts. As seen in many movies, from King Kong to Sleepless In Seattle, we can step back and wonder who is behind those 6,000 windows ( you might spot Donald Trump, he owns part of her now ) and wistfully sigh at the romance of it all.
other reading suggestions: "The Majesty of the French Quarter" by Kerri McCaffety