The new year calls for a time of reflection. In this blog post, we look for inspiration from the history of construction.
Humans have been building since 3500 BC as indicated by some of the world’s oldest structures. These buildings serve as the foundation that informs construction today.
Current day construction practices would not be possible were it not for the progress that came before. Today, we would like to tip our hard hats to the builders before us who made great advancements or had interesting stories to contribute to the field of construction.
Here are 5 facts from construction history that caught our eye:
The Great Pyramid of Giza
The ancient Pyramid of Giza is one of the greatest feats of construction of all time. It is listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World due to its innovation and wonder. The Greek historian Herodotus claimed that the construction was accomplished by over 400,000 men working over 20 years to complete the pyramid in 2560 BC.
The pyramid is so massive that the base of the pyramid can cover about 10 football fields! It also was the tallest structure in the world at the time of its completion up until 1311 AD. This span of over 250 years is the longest that any building has held this title since the pyramid’s replacement.
World’s Smallest Skyscraper
Most wouldn’t be too interested in the world’s smallest skyscraper, but this is quite the story. In 1919, a contractor named J.D. McMahon set out to raise the funds possible to make a skyscraper in Wichita Falls, Texas. He never verbally stated the size of the building to investors and the plans stated 480 inches – not feet, as the investors assumed. He ended up earning $200,000 from investors for the skyscraper which was built at 40 feet tall. McMahon was taken to court, but the judge ruled that he did not defraud anyone, and he won his case.
The Empire State Building
Few modern skyscrapers can compare to the prestige and scale of the Empire State Building. In a race for the title of tallest skyscraper in the world with the upcoming Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building won out at 1,250 ft and held the title for 40 years. A building so large it’s made of 10 million bricks and has its own zip code!
Though its history is fascinating, the most impressive aspect of the Empire State Building is its popularity. According to a 2011 research study conducted by Cornell using millions of Flickr photos, the Empire State Building is the most photographed building in the world.
The Most Iconic Construction Photograph
Many have seen the photo that features construction workers taking a break on a beam over the New York City skyline. Despite the photo’s fame, there are still many mysteries surrounding it. Many have made false claims of knowing the individuals in the photos, creating difficulty for archivists and historians trying to discover the identities of the workers. Even the photographer remains unknown for certain.
All that is known with certainty is that the photo was taken in 1932 at 800 feet above Manhattan during the construction of Rockefeller Center. Seán and Eamonn Ó Cualáin directed and produced a documentary film, Men at Lunch, which applies innovative research to the identification of the individuals; two of whom were identified in the film as Joe Curtis and Joe Eckner. Their study continues in the hopes of identifying all the men.
Regardless of our knowledge, it still beautifully depicts the hard work and determination of American immigrants to build the architectural feats of one of the greatest skylines in the world.
The Hoover Dam
The Hoover Dam may not seem like the most exciting construction feat, but don’t be underwhelmed. This massive slab of concrete is large enough to take you across the US. 3,250,000 cubic yards of concrete were used in the making of Hoover Dam, which is enough to create a two-lane highway stretching from San Francisco to New York City (approximately 3,000 miles in distance).
If this isn’t exciting enough for you, the dam was built in only 5 years using concrete cooling techniques that would normally take 125 years to set!
Looking to build the next great in the history of construction – or maybe something on a smaller scale? We’re just the right people for the job. Visit our website to learn more about us and our work.