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Not Human (excerpt), by Brandon Latu


[Dirigible Docked on Empire State Building, New York]

Unknown (American)

Gelatin silver print
Image: 25.4 x 20.3 cm (10 x 8 in.) Frame: 50.8 x 40.6 cm (20 x 16 in.)
Credit Line:
Twentieth-Century Photography Fund, 2011
Accession Number:
  • Description

    In 1930 International News Photos transmitted over the wires this photograph of the U.S. Navy dirigible Los Angeles docked at a mooring mast atop the Empire State Building. In fact, no airship ever docked there, and the notion of the mast itself was a publicity stunt perpetrated by the building’s backers. In late 1929 Alfred E. Smith, the leader of a group of investors erecting the Empire State Building, announced that they would be increasing the building’s height by two hundred feet, making it slightly taller than its rival, the Chrysler Building. The tower’s extension was to serve as a mooring mast for zeppelins from which weary European travelers would be able to disembark via a gangplank into a private elevator that would whisk them to street level in just seven minutes. Ultimately, the unceasing gusty winds at the tower’s pinnacle made the plan impossible to execute, but the mast remained, allowing the Empire State Building to claim the title of world’s tallest skyscraper.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Stamped in ink on verso: "International News Photos Inc."; news clipping affixed to verso; loose paper with mimeographed caption detached from verso.

  • Provenance

    [Keith de Lellis Gallery, New York]