…in a conversational style that almost makes you forget that you are reading a book about economic history.
Economists will appreciate Mr Barr’s careful use of wonky concepts; architects and historians will enjoy his keen eye for detail. But whatever your persuasion, after reading this book you will never look up at a skyscraper the same way again.
[I]f you’re remotely interested in New York skyscrapers, I can say with confidence that there is a one hundred percent chance you’re going to appreciate Building the Skyline!
—Jan Klerks, Skyhigh.City, the Skyscrapercity Magazine
What’s most fascinating about Barr’s book is how skillfully he uses all of this data to bust long-held misconceptions about New York City’s development.
—Alissa Walker, Curbed.com
Barr takes into account theory, data, and historical analysis, and as a result Building the Skyline is a deeply learned, exhaustively researched, and completely fresh look at the development of one of the world’s most important metropolises.
–Ray Bert, Civil Engineering
I loved Jason Barr’s Building the Skyline a history of New York from the point of view of the economics of skyscrapers.
–Alex Tabarrok, MarginalRevolution.com
Jason M. Barr does yeoman’s work closing that gap in his new book, Building the Skyline: The Birth and Growth of Manhattan’s Skyscrapers. Readers of all disciplines will likely be persuaded by his main argument, supported by copious data, that the locations and heights of Manhattan’s twentieth-century skyscrapers were largely determined by the way in which the island’s urban landscape evolved in the years just before the Civil War. Architectural historians, in particular, will appreciate Barr’s insights into how skyscraper businessmen have historically thought about their machines that make the land pay, insights that could certainly lead to new kinds of questions in future research.
— Sarah M. Dreller, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians
This beautifully written and impressively researched economic history of tall buildings in Manhattan will beguile the reader. It punctures long-held myths and explains such puzzles as why there are no skyscrapers between downtown and midtown, which buildings are taller than they should be, why we are now building skyscrapers for residents and not corporate offices, and why New Yorkers no longer seek to build the tallest building in the world. Ranging from Manhattan’s earliest days to the present, it concludes with some thought-provoking recommendations for the future.
—John Mollenkopf, Distinguished Professor, Political Science and Sociology, The Graduate Center, City University of New York
Skyscraper economist, Jason Barr, takes the reader on a captivating historical journey from the European settlement of Manhattan to the rise of the present day NYC skyline. Along the way, we learn the answers to fascinating questions concerning the role of bedrock in forming the skyline; the timing, formation, and growth of midtown; the use of tenements during periods of intense immigration; and the changing value of Manhattan real estate over time. Building the Skyline is essential reading for anyone interested in NYC real estate history and the rise of the Manhattan skyline.
—Troy Tassier, Department of Economics, Fordham University
A deeply informed, literate account of the skyscaper’s role in New York City history. Barr is a leading scholar in the economics of skyscrapers, and he turns out to be an outstanding storyteller as well. A towering achievement!
—Donald Davis, Ragnar Nurkse Professor of Economics, Chairman, Department of Economics, Columbia University