Conventional opinion has held that the Equitable Building (1912-1915) at 120 South Broadway in New York was the embodiment of all that was wrong with skyscrapers, and that it was thus a major cause of the 1916 zoning ordinance which restricted the height, size, and arrangement of buildings in the city. A closer look at the evidence reveals that a blueprint for the zoning regulation was complete in 1913 when the Equitable had just been begun. In the clash of conflicting ideologies surrounding the zoning movement, the Equitable was more a convenient symbol, a handy scapegoat in the heat of contemporary rhetoric, than a principal cause of the new ordinance. The earlier misjudgment has obscured the building's place in two other areas in the history of architecture: elevator engineering, and the adaptation of management techniques to building construction.

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