From Monochrome to Color: Rediscovering Famous Structures

May 27, 2024

Building the Hoover Dam in the Desert Presented Logistical and Environmental Challenges

We've all seen the structures included here, some up close and personal and others in images that try to show the grandiosity of these marvels of human construction. But why look at black and white images of these massive structures when we can bring them to life in vivid color? Each stroke of color revives the past, offering a fresh lens into bygone eras.

So keep scrolling and get transported back in time through these expertly colorized images of some of the most imposing architectural marvels from across the world.



The Bureau of Reclamation oversaw the work of building Hoover Dam, beginning in 1931. The dam aimed to harness the Colorado River's water to use it for irrigation and produce electricity. Temperatures during construction often exceeded 100 degrees, with laborers enduring relentless sun exposure and dehydration. When site surveyor Patrick Tierney lost his life during the construction process in a cableway basket accident, his wife took over, becoming one of the first female surveyors on a significant project.

Employees often toiled at heights of over 700 feet. One of the first tasks was to build a massive cofferdam upstream to change the river's flow. Once the water was gone, excavation began for the dam's foundation. Another early task was building large towers on both sides of the canyon. These structures were essential because a cable was strung between them. Then, buckets were attached to transport supplies.

Speed of Construction: Completing the Empire State Building in Just Over a Year Required Efficient Coordination

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Workers constructed the Empire State Building in New York City in 410 days, with its official opening held on May 1, 1931. Laborers built the structure during the Great Depression, giving much-needed employment to thousands. Despite its swift completion, the Empire State Building's construction was challenging. The labor force had to use innovative construction methods to complete the project quickly. In many cases, they used prefabricated components.

Different crews were employed on multiple floors simultaneously. Transporting materials and equipment to the top of the Empire State Building required using elevators and hoists. Often, workers stayed in the same position all day, while others used the elevators and hoists to pass tools and materials up to them. Tragically, the frantic construction pace also caused several accidents. For 40 years, the building was the tallest in the world.