Auguste Fabre - Les Sky Scratchers

In 1896 Auguste Fabre, a Frenchman involved in the cooperative movement, wrote a short book about American skyscrapers. The phenomenon was still so new that he used the English word "Sky Scratchers". The book exudes an atmosphere of 19th-century progress and optimism. Fabre sees skyscrapers as the solution to the housing problems of workers and advances a series of arguments why they are thé solution. They are practical, they are hygienic, they are safe, they can be divided easily.

When Fabre wrote his booklet, the highest skyscraper was 92 m. high (in Chicago). The familiar skyline of New York did not yet exist, but that image became reality very rapidly. The city grew, becoming the archetype of the metropolis, with its beauty and shadows. The skyline as we know it was completed on April 14, 1973, when the WTC was officially opened. It is still difficult to imagine that on September 11, 2001 terrorists deliberately drove thousands to their deaths and rigorously mutilated, amputated a city. The publication here of Fabre's booklet on Les hautes Maisons Américaines is a small tribute: to progress and the victims of its opponents.

The booklet measures 25 by 16 cm. It is published by "Bureaux de L'Émancipation" 4, Plan de l'Aspic, 4, and printed by imp. Vve Laporte, 7 ruelle des Saintes-Maries, both in Nîmes, in the series Bibliothèque du Journal L'Émancipation. The blank reverse side of the cover and the reverse and blank page after page 31 have not been digitized.

You can read the book, and in "Background" learn more about Auguste Fabre and the skyscrapers. In the end there are links to other collections and sources on this subject.

Text: Huub Sanders, August 1, 2002