This wasn't because welding was boring and commonplace...far from it! Amazingly enough, welding was considered a radical idea at the time, and it wasn't until the mid-'30s that it became a respectable way to hold a building together. What did they use beforehand?
Yes, that's right, rivets. Stories about New York in the '20s often mention the horrendous noise of construction, and a lot of that was due to the process of riveting.
Once they got the welding process refined it became the preferred method for keeping most pieces of metal together, but The New Yorker mentions some potential drawbacks.
One, which impressed us more than it does Mr. Fish, is the disappearance of the romantic game of throwing and catching rivets--more fun to watch even than excavating. It would be replaced, however, by a sort of fireworks display.Even more surprising:
Another handicap is that the present building code in New York City doesn't allow welded buildings.I like to learn new things. Here I thought that welding was the 20th century's preferred method of building everything except boats and bridges...but New York City didn't even ALLOW you to weld a skyscraper in the '20s. Neat!