John J. Emery's Carew Tower complex in Cincinnati, Ohio, was an unusual example in the 1920s of the congruence between progressive skyscraper design and planning on the one hand, and progressive social and political tendencies on the other. Although its massing and major ornamental motifs were derived from other work in the decade by French and American designers, it nevertheless exhibited a spatial and circulatory originality unmatched by office buildings, hotels, or mixed-use skyscrapers prior to Rockefeller Center. More fully than any other skyscraper development between 1920 and 1935, the Carew Tower complex integrated significant aspects of local history with the architectural sophistication and the large-scale technological and organizational innovations generally identified with New York City and Chicago. At the same time, in an era when boss rule and political patronage dominated the governments of most large American cities, Emery and the Carew Tower complex were integrally associated with the extensive programs of public works and governmental reforms instituted in Cincinnati between 1924 and 1936.

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