Sky Boys

The Empire State Building was built in 1931, during the Great Depression. Follow the construction of this amazing building through the eyes of a young boy as he watches the daring construction workers, the “Sky Boys,” working hundreds of feet above the ground.

Interested in using this resource in your classroom? Check out the posters that go along with this book: Productive Resources, Human Resources, Capital Resources, Natural Resources, Productivity

Comprehension Questions

What natural resource did it take to begin to build the Empire State Building? What had to be torn down to use this natural resource? What was other natural resource left after the hotel was torn down?

Land, an old hotel, wood.

What are capital resources?

Man-made goods used to produce other goods and services. Examples are machines, tools, buildings, and equipment

What capital resources did it take to tear down the old hotel?

Cranes, wrecking balls, trucks, large shovels.

It takes a lot of steel beams to build a skyscraper. What natural resource does steel come from?

Iron ore, which is mined from the ground.

What are some of the jobs (human resources) that were necessary to build the Empire State Building?

Water boys, heaters, catchers, bucker-up workers, gunmen, men who used the hoists, bricklayers, masons, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, etc.

Human capital refers to the skills, education, and training that workers have. What human capital did the sky boys have?

They had multiple construction skills that it took to build a skyscraper – plus the courage and daring to build far above the ground!

What are some of the many capital resources used by the workers?

Steel beams, water buckets, forges, funneled tin cans, tongs, hammer hoists, railcars and tracks, elevators, water tanks, lunch stands, toilets...

The Empire State Building was built in just a little over a year. Why were the workers able to build it so quickly?

The workers worked very hard and also used assembly line construction techniques, where each worker had a special job. This enabled the workers to have a high rate of productivity.

To see images of the construction of the Empire State Building, go to

Author: Deborah Hopkinson and James Ransome
Published: 2006
Grade Level: K-3
Accelerated Reader Level/Points: 0.5
Publisher: Schwartz and Wade Books