Teaching Resources


The Empire State Building official website is an excellent source for information and resources, including historical timelines, photos, and fun facts. Click here

The New York Public Library's Digital online collection hosts Lewis Wicke Hine's historical photographs of the Empire State Building. Click here

The Skyscraper Museum is not only an excellent follow-up trip to your Empire State Building venture, but also has a wealth of knowledge about all things skyscraper. Click here

PBS.org's "Building Big" covers a number of skyscrapers with facts relating to size, costs, appearance, etc. Click here

The following interview, "How The Irish Built An American Icon" (from The Gotham Gazette), is with author Thomas Kelly, who discusses his novel, Empire Rising. The interview offers good insights into who these workers were and the conditions under which they worked. Click here

GreatestBuildings.com hosts fantastic photographs and information on the Empire State Building. Click here

Project East built a 6' to-scale model of the Empire State Building. The details are astounding and the replication is extremely precise. It is useful in identifying architectural terms for students. Click here

The Great Depression: The Tolt Middle School Resource Center has gathered a great number of useable links on the Great Depression, the era during which the Empire State Building was constructed. Click here One of the links is an extensive timeline hosted by the University of Virginia. Click here

The New Deal Network is a robust online collection of primary source materials for teacher and students created by The Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute. Click here

The New York Times hosts a web special entitled "Looking Back At The Crash Of '29." Click here


The 1999 PBS documentary, New York ("Cosmopolis," Episode Five, 1919-1931) is an amazing film by Ric Burns. The fifth episode focuses on the skyscraper building races of the late 1920s-early 1930s and the Great Depression. Click here

The Great Depression: Stories of a Generation's Struggle for Democracy (1993)
"Somehow, in the hardest of times, with America slipping away, our parents and grandparents found the courage to fight their way out," begins The Great Depression, an unprecedented seven-hour public television series. "Nothing turned out exactly the way they planned. What began in the roaring twenties ended when war exploded in the forties. They may have done an imperfect job, some lost their nerve and some gave their lives. But by the time the Great Depression was over, they had done better than simply save America, they had made a new America." The Great Depression offers the untold story of how Americans responded to the greatest crisis to confront them in twentieth century. Click here


For Children

Empire State Building: When New York Reached for the Skies
by Elizabeth Mann. Illus. by Alan Witschonke, photographs by Lewis W. Hine. (Miyaka Press, 2003, Grades 4 to 8).
An illustrated history of the Empire State Building: its architecture, engineering, construction, the millionaires who financed it, and the workers who built it.

Joe and the Skyscraper: The Empire State Building in New York City
by Dietrich Neumann (Prestel Publishing, 1999, Grades 3 to 5)
Tells the story of the construction of the Empire State Building through the experiences of sixteen-year-old Joe Carbonelli, whose job it was to carry drinking water up to the other workers.

Sky Boys: How They Built The Empire State Building
by Deborah Hopkinson. Illus. by James Ransome (Schwartz & Wade, 2006, Grades 2 to 4).
During the Great Depression, a boy and his out-of-work father watch the workers erect the Empire State Building at the rate of four-and-a-half stories a week. For the next forty years, it will remain the world's tallest building. This inspirational book commemorates the men who built it.

The Empire State Building
by Craig A. Doherty & Katherine M. Doherty. Photos by Lewis W. Hine (Blackbirch Press, 1998, Grades 3 to 8).
The story of the Empire State Building from the initial plans through its construction, with additional material on the building's impact on and place in American culture.

For Teens and Adults

Empire Rising (Fiction)
by Thomas Kelly (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2005)
One of the thousands of men who come to work on the Empire State Building in 1930 is an Irish immigrant. He meets a woman artist who is chronicling the rise of the building through her paintings. Unfortunately, she is also connected to the era's corrupt Tammany Hall and the New York City underworld.

Empire State Building: The Making of a Landmark
by John Tauranac (Simon & Schuster, 1995; St. Martin's Griffin, 1997)
The history of this historic landmark from its initial conception and planning, the rivalries and politics surrounding its building, its swift construction and completion, and its cultural and architectural importance and influence.

High Steel: The Daring Men Who Built The World's Greatest Skyline
by Jim Rasenberger (HarperCollins, 2004; Harper Paperbacks, 2005)
A historical overview of skyscraper construction that focuses on the ironworkers who created the Empire State Building, the Flatiron and Chrysler buildings, the George Washington Bridge, the World Trade Center, the new Timer Warner Center, and other edifices.

Nearest Thing to Heaven: The Empire State Building and American Dreams
by Mark Kingwell (Yale University Press, 2007)
Explores the Empire State Building as a special icon of American culture and the American spirit, as well as an important and historic architectural landmark.

Thirteen Months to Go: The Creation of The Empire State Building
by Geraldine B. Wagner (Thunder Bay Press, 2003)
The story of how the creators of the Empire State Building won the contest to build the world's tallest building during the Great Depression, one of the worst economic downturns in U.S. history.