It is criminal to steal a purse, daring to steal a fortune, a mark of greatness to steal a crown. The blame diminishes as the guilt increases… Friedrich Schiller


Rockefeller Center, New York City

Great fortune: the epic of Rockefeller Center New York: Viking, 2003      Daniel Okrent Architecture New York (State) New York     Rockefeller Center History Hardcover. First edition and printing. xiv, 512 p. : ill. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [473]-480) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. Be sure and read the extended description at our head listing. VG/VG

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Everything about the conception and creation of Rockefeller Center was outsized and wildly improbable. Launched in the teeth of the worst depression in American history, the most ambitious construction project since the Pyramids was the unintended result of a philanthropic gesture gone awry. But when it was finished, John D. Rockefeller Jr.‘s accidental adventure redefined the very nature of New York City.

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Journalist Daniel Okrent draws on a depth of research and a broad grasp of subjects – money, art, politics, business, social history – to tell the story of how Rockefeller Center rose in the heart of Manhattan to become the playground, the laboratory and the headquarters for all the world’s affairs. Okrent’s cast of singular characters is a Who’s Who of a glamorous age. Gertrude Vanderbilt, Otto Kahn, Henry Luce, Diego Rivera, Georgia O’Keeffe, even Benito Mussolini all play crucial, and often unexpected, roles in this saga.

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At the heart of the story are four remarkable individuals: John D. Rockefeller Jr., the timid son of the world’s richest man, whose greatest accomplishment turns out to be something he had never intended; his son Nelson, who launched his own imperial career by seizing control of this vast enterprise; the rude, vain, but dazzlingly creative real-estate genius John R. Todd; and Raymond Hood, a scamp, a provocateur, a drinker-and the greatest skyscraper architect America has ever known. Weaving together multiple narrative lines and historic detail, Great Fortune is a tapestry of New York in its first flush of world-dominating wealth and power.

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