Historic Hood River
Historic… New Orleans
The only link to Hood River is that this stereo card is in our collection, but it tells an important story about the earliest “sky scrapers” in our cities. For centuries building height was limited by how thick the masonry walls had to be at the base to support the structure, and the difficulty accessing upper reaches of tall buildings. Otis’ elevators solved one of the problems, and early cast iron construction addressed the other. The 1859 “Moresque Building” in New Orleans was a beautiful example of the sorts of things that could be accomplished with these two inventions. Unfortunately cast iron construction doesn’t fare as well as steel in a fire, as was demonstrated when this building burned/melted in April 1897.
I recall from an architecture class in college that the great Chicago fire of 1871 marked the dividing line between the eras of cast iron and steel skyscrapers. Most large cities still have a handful of cast iron buildings left, and I always enjoy coming across one. There are plenty of examples in New Orleans, but sadly, perhaps the city’s most spectacular example didn’t make it.