The year is 1930… and the race for the world’s tallest skyscraper is on.
The automobile magnate Walter P. Chrysler had tasked architect William Van Alen to design the world’s tallest building for him. The Chrysler building – as it would come to be known – would be “dedicated as a sound contribution to business progress.”
Van Alen had his own reasons for taking on the project…
In the late 1920s, architects had been caught in a game of one-upmanship. In 1929, Van Alen’s former business partner Craig Severance had unveiled the Bank of Manhattan Trust Building. It had claimed the title of the world’s tallest building at 927 feet tall.
But Van Alen had a plan to take the title.
In secret, he had constructed a 185-foot spire that was assembled within the building. It was then hoisted up through the top of the building and secured. On May 27, 1930, the building was complete.
At 1,046 feet, Van Alen’s Chrysler Building became the world’s tallest skyscraper.
Less than a year later, the Empire State Building was unveiled. Van Alen’s construction held the title of world’s tallest building for 11 months.
It’s an interesting bit of architectural history. But aside from being a fun story, the race for larger and more elaborate buildings tells us something about where we are in the 18.6-year land cycle that I have been sharing with readers.
More importantly, it tells us where we are headed…
Welcome to Cycles Trading
Welcome back to Cycles Trading with me, Phil Anderson.
I have made it my life’s work to understand how economies and markets really operate. And what I discovered is that – rather than being random – the ebbs and flows of economies can be predicted with startling accuracy.
It all comes down to the land market, which rises and falls every 18 years. This, in turn, charts the direction of economies, markets, and everything in between. The goal of this publication is to help you understand this cycle and profit along the way.
And while most don’t see it, there are very clear “road markers” that tell us where we are in this cycle. The construction of ever-more elaborate building projects is one such indicator.
It’s not a coincidence, for instance, that the race for the world’s tallest building happened in the late 1920s when credit was abundant.
It’s also not a coincidence that a severe and lasting depression soon followed…
If you want to know where we are in the 18.6-year real estate cycle, just look up…
The world’s tallest buildings have a consistent habit of being completed right around the top of the land cycle. And I mentioned above, this makes sense.
When credit flows freely, such endeavors seem practical. And by the time these structures are complete – or close to complete – the cycle is already turning.
That’s why I say it’s not a coincidence that the Chrysler building and the Empire State Building were both completed immediately before a severe depression.
Unfortunately… the Metropolitan Life North Building in downtown Manhattan completed its first phase in 1932. And given the economic situation at the time, the remaining 75 floors were never finished.
Metropolitan Life North Building (Left)
Source: Wikimedia Commons
But other notable skyscrapers timed the top almost exactly…
Again, it’s not a coincidence that the Burj Kahlifa – a skyscraper in Dubai and currently the world’s tallest building – was completed in 2009. I’m sure I don’t have to remind us what happened after that.
And here we find ourselves again with new, even more ostentatious projects in the works. This time though, these new building projects aren’t reaching up… they’re reaching out.
Tallest, Longest, Biggest
It’s in the “tallest, longest, biggest” stage where you see record-breaking projects pop up across the world.
The latest example comes from Dubai, the most populous city in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates.
Dubai could become a new center for sustainability and wellness, if developer URB gets its way. The Dubai-based firm has proposed a series of ambitious, environmentally focused designs to transform the emirate – including an indoor climate controlled “sustainable urban highway” stretching over 93 kilometers (58 miles).
If built, “The Loop” would be the “smartest” cycling and running infrastructure anywhere in the world, according to URB’s CEO Baharash Bagherian. “The project aims to make Dubai the most connected city on Earth by foot or bike,” he added.
The cost of the project isn’t clear, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a number in the tens of billions of dollars range.
You should pay attention when you see a project like this get started.
It tells me that the global real estate cycle continues… but we’re getting close to the end.
Importantly, “The Loop” is still in its development stages. To compare it to the story above, that would put us in the late 1920s, just a few years before trouble starts.
We’re not at the end of the cycle yet. But when that comes, it will be painful… unless you know it’s coming. Which, if you’re reading this, is a great first step.
Soon, the world may welcome “The Loop” as a testament to our ingenuity and accomplishments.
In reality, it will be a predictable “last hoorah”… an omen of what’s to come.
Editor, Cycles Trading with Phil Anderson