Architectural Colonialism 2

Say, for the sake of argument, that you’re an executive at New York Life Insurance in 1890, when your company is busy expanding your national presence. Instead of renting space for your regional offices, you’re planning on building your own. What do you do to make it clear that the new building belongs to your company, the big bad New Yorkers?

The answer is obvious: you build New York-style skyscrapers* wherever you go.

Kansas City, 1890

St. Paul, 1890

Omaha, 1890

Minneapolis, 1890

Bigger and fancier buildings were built in Chicago in 1894 and New York in 1895 (this a third expansion of the existing headquarters), but these were simply individual tall buildings in two cities crowded with them. On the other hand, the Kansas City and Omaha buildings were the tallest in their respective citites when built, the Minneapolis building was one of three in the city taller than 10 stories, the St. Paul building was one of four in the city taller than 10 stories.

NY Life to the Midwest: HERE WE ARE!

*”Skyscraper” is a term without a fixed meaning. In the 1890s, a ten-story steel-frame building arguably qualified.

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