Before you check out Speed Graphic Film and Video’s latest posting on YouTube, be warned that if you have an issue with heights it can be a bit overwhelming. “Construction Workers on the Chrysler Building, 1929-1930” shares footage captured during the building of the iconic building. It’s both fascinating and chilling to see these workers go about their trades so nonchalantly with literal thousand-foot drops on either side.
The Chrysler Building is one of New York’s most iconic skyscrapers. The building of the edifice happened quickly, with construction starting in November 1928 and the building officially opening in May 1930. During that period, the steelwork was completely finished in just six months. The work started in the summer of 1929 and averaged a rate of four floors a week. Much of the process was captured by Fox Movitone’s sound cameras during several visits to the site in 1929 and 1930. The video shows one of the corner eagles being installed, as well as other workers doing their jobs. Many of the shots include staged dialogue. It’s amazing to watch these professionals shimmy up and down pipes on the scaffolding for the Chrysler Building’s spire, or lean out over the edge to install a piece of metal, all without any visible harnesses or helmets.
Remarkably, during the construction of the Chrysler Building, not a single worker died, despite the accelerated building pace. The race was on to see who could claim the tallest building in the world, and at 1,046 feet, the Chrysler building claimed that title until 11 months later when the Empire State Building was completed. However, despite being taller, the Empire State Building couldn’t lay claim to being the safer of the two with five deaths happening during its construction. Over 3,000 workers worked on the Chrysler building, putting together 20,961 tons of structural steel, 391,881 rivets, 3,826,000 bricks, and 3,862 windows. The 77-floor building cost $20 million dollars to construct. The building is a testament to the hard workers that constructed it, and the video gives an idea of how crazy their everyday lives were.