New York City has always been a popular place to settle, but in the early 20th century, New York City dominated the nation as a place to find employment. More than a quarter of the largest corporations in the country had their headquarters in New York City. The city was a destination for immigrants hoping to come to America to change their fortunes as well as internal migrants hoping for a taste of what the famed city had to offer. Of course, the influx of immigrants and migrants alike meant that the real estate market needed to change, which began a boom in the number of population-dense tenement apartments and a wave of skyscraper construction to handle the demand for office space.

Immigration and Ellis Island

When New York City was originally settled by the Europeans, it was farmland that wasn't considered to be worth all that much. That had slowly changed throughout the years as more immigrants flocked to the area and businesses began to put their flagship locations in the city, but it was the early 1900s that saw a major surge in the demand for housing. Immigrants came to New York City through Ellis Island in the hopes of a better life. This surge in immigrants led to neighborhoods with plenty of brownstone row houses and tenements to house everybody who moved to the area. These buildings were made out of stone and brick so that they wouldn't be prone to fires like wood-frame houses were. It wasn't only houses that were affected by this influx of immigrants; the quick development of these population-dense areas led to the opening of bridges like the Brooklyn Bridge in order to create an easier commute between Brooklyn and Manhattan. With more bridges being built, people were able to move farther away from Manhattan and into the other boroughs of New York City.

The Architecture of New York City

The fast-paced development of the city led to the first citywide zoning codes in the United States as well as the development of new building materials, elevators, and electricity. Coupled with the high-rise trend that was sweeping the city, the area was ready for its influx of new residents. While people were moving to the city in droves, New York's defining structures began to rise. New York City made use of its street-level space for luxurious urban renewal projects like the Grand Central Terminal, Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, and Lincoln Center. Architects created structures in this era in a variety of styles, such as classic Greek revival looks, Art Deco icons, and skyscrapers that vied to be the tallest in the city, if not the world. Skyscrapers may have been some of the most iconic structures that New York City had to offer for office space, but meanwhile, closer to the ground, more and more brownstones and tenement buildings popped up to house all of the new residents coming to the city. The 1900s created a rise in architectural prowess that cemented New York City as a residential and commercial hot spot.

Famous Buildings and Structures

New York City is well-known for its skyscrapers, which form a skyline that's recognizable around the world. The city has the largest variety of skyscrapers in the world, but they aren't all just tall metal structures; many of them are architecturally and culturally significant. For example, the Woolworth Building, built in 1913, was constructed with an early Gothic revival touch with large-scale Gothic detailing. Meanwhile, the Chrysler Building and Empire State Building, which were both built in the 1930s, reflect the Art Deco design that was popular at the time. The Chrysler Building is even considered by historians and architects to be one of the finest buildings New York City has to offer because of its distinctive Art Deco ornamentation. Even today, the structures built throughout the 20th century that create the distinctive look of New York City are some of the most widely recognized buildings in the world.