Cass Gilbert described the skyscraper as “a machine that makes the land pay” in 1900, twenty-three years before Le Corbusier famously designated the house as “a machine for living in.”1 Yet despite its publication a full generation earlier, the former declaration has received arguably less attention than the latter. Jason M. Barr does yeoman's work closing that gap in his new book, Building the Skyline: The Birth and Growth of Manhattan's Skyscrapers. Readers of all disciplines will likely be persuaded by his main argument, supported by copious data, that the locations and heights of Manhattan's twentieth-century skyscrapers were largely determined by the way in which the...

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