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1927, the commanding apartment buildings Park Avenue were not just tall; they were immensely tall, true towers, the first skyscrapers built permanent living. The tallest them was the Ritz Tower, shooting the pavement the corner of Fifty-seventh Street and Park Avenue. Built blue-bloods and tycoons Emery Roth, it opened October 1926 and was one the first residential buildings New York constructed sympathy the city's landmark zoning law 1916.

Concerned diminishing sunlight and fresh air the canyonlike streets created the closely massed skyscrapers lower Manhattan, the city placed a limit the maximum height and bulk tall buildings. Height limits were based the width the street a building faced; if a developer proposed exceed the legal limit, the stories above it had to be set , roughly one foot each four feet additional height.

Forced work the confines the so-called zoning envelope, architects began constructing 'set-back' skyscrapers, sections of the buildings set further and further as they rose their bases the island's sky. 'Wedding cake' architecture, some New Yorkers called it.