John Raskob is not a name that looms large but his greatest building casts a shadow on us every day. Financier of the Empire State Building, Raskob was a self-made businessman who worked for DuPont and for GM and famously invented with the idea for consumer credit, which he first offered to individual car buyers (GMAC). A friend of New York Governor Al Smith, Raskob became active in New York politics and ran the Democratic National Committee and Smith's campaign for the presidency. He invested his own fortune heavily in the Empire State Building, built at the height of the Great Depression. A colorful figure, Raskob's life evokes the roaring twenties, the Catholic elite, the boardrooms of America's biggest corporations, and the rags-to-riches tale that is central to the American dream. His most famous interview was entitled "Everybody Ought to Be Rich" in Ladies' Home Journal in August 1929-on the eve of the stock market crash-and his personal achievement of such extraordinary wealth and power highlight just how far he came traveled from a teenage candy seller on the railway between Lockport and Buffalo.
His wide circle of business associates and personal acquaintances included Water Chrysler, the DuPonts, Alfred Sloane, Franklin Roosevelt, Joseph Kennedy, Western miners, and the Pope. He lived his own creed: "Go ahead and do things. The bigger the better, if your fundamentals are sound. Avoid procrastination."