Photos of iconic US landmarks as they were being constructed

Empire state building construction workers with ropesLewis Hine, The New York Public Library collectionsWorkers braved staggering heights to construct the Empire State Building.

Today, landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the Mount Rushmore monument attract people from around the world who marvel at their impressive design.

But before they stood in all their grandeur, these iconic structures went through complex constructions that included risky and fascinating tactics used by its workers.

We’ve put together a collection of rare historic photos that display how some of the country’s most well-known landmarks came to be, from the meticulous carving of Mount Rushmore to the renovation that helped save the White House from completely collapsing.

Her face, which was uncrated in 1885 on Liberty Island, is said to have been modelled after the sculptor's mother, Charlotte.

Her feet and crowd arrived to Liberty Island on 1885. Lady Liberty has a 879 shoe size and if you look close enough, you'll see that she's standing on broken shackles to represent her moving forward from oppression.

The Mount Rushmore monument, located in the Black Hills National Forest of South Dakota, was the creation of historian Doane Robinson, who wanted to find a way to attract tourists to the state. Gutzon Borglum, pictured here, was the sculptor that carved the faces into the mountain.

Wikimedia Commons

Source: History Channel

George Washington's face was the first to be chiselled. The head was sculpted in an egg shape, with the details and features added in later.

Lincoln's face was completed in 1937, with workers braving heights to carve each detail.

To get as close to the surface as possible, workers would drill shallow holes in a grid and then remove the grids though further drilling -- a process that was known as 'honeycombing.'

U.S. National Park Service

Source: PBS

Winch houses, pictured here, were also built in Mount Rushmore during the construction so that workers could use steel cables to be raised and lowered to these areas while carving.

U.S. National Park Service

Source: U.S. National Park Service

The hut pictured above the semi-constructed head of Washington here is a winch house, from which workers would suspend themselves. Originally, Thomas Jefferson's head was constructed on Washington's right, but after his face cracked, the sculpture was blasted off and moved to Washington's left.

U.S. National Park Service

Source: History Channel

Construction on New York City's Empire State Building started on March 17, 1930.

Lewis Hine, The New York Public Library collections

Source: CNN

To built the 103-story complex, 3,000 workers were employed to complete 4.5 floors per week. Due to the heights they were facing, cranes were often used to lift heavy materials.

Lewis Hine, The New York Public Library collections

Source: CNN

But the beams that help support the building were connected and hammered by hand.

Lewis Hine, The New York Public Library collections

Source: New York Public Library

This meant workers braved staggering heights on a daily basis. Here, you can see the Chrysler building and the New York Daily News building in the foreground as a worker dangles off the ledge.

Lewis Hine, The New York Public Library collections

They even used cables to move around. Fascinatingly, the massive building only took a year and 45 days to build.

Lewis Hine, The New York Public Library collections

Source: CNN

And when it was completed in 1931, it became the tallest building in the world. It was officially opened when President Herbert Hoover turned on the building's lights by pressing a button in Washington.

Lewis Hine, The New York Public Library collections

Source: CNN

The construction of the terminal was the biggest construction project that New York had seen at the time, with a track compound that totaled 23 miles in size.

Library of Congress

Source: History Channel

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