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Datum objave: 12.01.2020

Al Smith's Empire State Building, 1929-1931

Construction on 500 Fifth Avenue, New York City, 1930

Al Smith's Empire State Building, 1929-1931

Former New York governor Al Smith was the Empire State Building's biggest booster, the visible face of the company that built it. This is a compilation of Movietone film showing both the construction of the Empire State Building itself as well as Gov. Smith's promotion of the project. 0:56 The Empire State was built on the site of the original Waldorf-Astoria hotel on Fifth Avenue between 34th and 35th Streets. Demolition of the old hotel officially began on October 1, 1929, and Movietone cameras were there to record the ceremonial start. Because these are outtakes, some of the ceremony is incomplete or missing. 2:17 Construction proceeded at a breakneck pace. By the summer of 1930, the steel skeleton was almost halfway done, and construction of the outer walls was not far behind. 4:36 in January 1931, Movietone cameras visited Gov. Smith in his office to film him speaking about prohibition. They also filmed Carl Davis presenting Governor and Mrs. Smith with a silk scarf printed with an Empire-State-Building motif. He is wearing a tie and she is wearing a dress made from the same fabric. I also included a couple of scenes of Gov. Smith waiting for the cameras to roll. I like a politician who knows how to handle a cigar. 5:41 By May of 1931, the building was finished and officially opened. Gov. Smith had two of his grandchildren, Arthur Smith Jr. and Mary Warner, participate in the ceremony. Also attending is the then-governor of New York, Franklin Roosevelt. The kids fidget and Smith is impatient with the press. After the ceremonies, Smith and Roosevelt have an unscripted open-mike moment together.

Construction on 500 Fifth Avenue, New York City, 1930

500 Fifth Avenue, a 60-story office skyscraper at the corner of Fifth and 42nd Street, was built in 1930. Movietone sound cameras visited the construction site that summer and brought back some dizzying views from the top. Starting at 0:41, we see workmen on the scaffolding and steelwork. As was common at the time, nobody wears safety restraints. At 1:41 a worker appears to be tightening a bolt while other off-camera workers tease and throw water at him. At 3:05, the cameraman did a multi-shot 360-degree panorama. It starts looking east towards the Chrysler building, which is nearing completion. It then turns south, where (at 3:35 ), construction on the Empire State Building is well underway. At 4:05 , the camera is looking west along 42nd Street, where the Times Tower and the Paramount Building can be seen. 4:56 is the start of an almost-surreal scene, taken in a single 3-minute shot: somebody has brought a portable phonograph to the work site, and workers gather round as it plays "When You're Smiling." At first, they laugh and horseplay for the camera, but then they become quiet. The camera pans out, and we see Bryant Park, the Sixth Avenue El and streetcars on 42nd Street. It's the beginning of the Great Depression out there. After the credits are some duplicate shots and outtakes from the outtakes. Note: this film is mis-cataloged at the MIRC: It is listed as being taken on the Chrysler building in July 1929. It is obvious from the film what building it was actually taken on. The state of construction on it, the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building indicates that it was taken in June and/or July 1930.

Times Square and Broadway, 1929-1931

In 1929 (during the day) and again in 1931 (at nightfall), Fox Movietone News's cameramen were out in the Times Square area, filming the people, the traffic and the bright lights of Broadway. They just let the cameras roll, and this is the result. While so much is different--the businesses, the automobiles, the trolleys, the two-way traffic--much is the same on one of the most recognizable streets in the world. Note: a number of viewers have asked where New York streetcars got their

electric power. It was carried in an underground conduit which the cars accessed through a slot between the rails. For a full explanation,

New York in the 1920s (1961 documentary)

This is a complete episode of the program, "The Twentieth Century," and is entitled "New York in the Twenties," hosted and narrated by Walter Cronkite. It's filled with abundant film footage of the era, including shots of lots of famous names. There are three interviewees: Alfred A. Knopf, publisher; Marc Connelly, playwright; and Stanley Walker, longtime editor of the Herald Tribune. Seen in archival footage: Sinclair Lewis, Willa Cather, H.L. Mencken, Heywood Hale Broun, George Jean Nathan and many others. We get sound footage of Fannie Brice singing, "I've Got a Feeling I'm Falling" and Helen Morgan singing "My Bill." George Gershwin is seen and heard rehearsing a musical number, "Strike Up the Band," with comic team Clark and McCullough. And legendary club owner Texas Guinan ("Hello, suckers!") is seen and heard entertaining the crowd. No mention of the Harlem Renaissance, though. This documentary was made 52 years ago and it covers events that happened between 20 and 30 years before then.

New York in the mid 1930's in Color!

Extremely interesting long film about New York not long after the Great Depression. This film is in colour, motion-stabilized, enhanced and speed-corrected by me. It was shot between 1933 and 1939. Duration: 41 minutes. It shows many images of New York's buildings (Empire State, Chrysler and Woolworth buildings a.o), Bridges, Aircraft, Neon lights and Steamships. Especially the footage of the famous ocean liners Queen Mary (Cunard White Star Line), which was brand new at that time, and the Normandie and Conte di Savoia footage (in color!) is intriguing. The film was probably made by a wealthy family involving an elderly lady who appears at 16:08 (probably to buy cruise tickets) and later on deck of the Normandie at 31:45 and feeding the pidgeons at 34:40.

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