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George Bellows and New York, 1900–1930

Joseph Pennell
American, 1860–1926

Building the Woolworth Building, from the “New York” series

1915
Lithograph
Museum purchase, 1916.3

Joseph Pennell said of the Woolworth building, the tallest building in the world at the time of its completion: “One thing it has done—it has made a new skyline and brought New York together again.” – In this image of the new skyscraper—nearly complete, but with scaffolding indicated by sketchy lines—the smudging of ink at the top of the print suggests a misty morning. The skyward perspective Pennell creates demonstrates the height of the building and its place in the skyline and progress of New York City.

Pennell is remembered today as one of the great American printmakers and illustrators. During the time Pennell was active, illustrated literature became an increasingly ubiquitous part of visual culture. Pennell became known for his images of architecture and the modern city of New York. He included Building the Woolworth Building in his 1916 book Pictures of the Wonder of Work, his ode to modern construction, engineering, and industry.