It is the latest in a series of incidents involving cranes across New York City over the years.
Crane safety came under scrutiny in the city in 2008, when two tower cranes collapsed in Manhattan within two months of each other, killing a total of nine people. A crane rigger and crane owner were tried and acquitted on manslaughter charges; a mechanic pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide.
The accidents spurred the resignation of the city buildings commissioner and fueled new safety measures, including hiring more inspectors and expanding training requirements and inspection checklists.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said those precautions have been effective and were in place Friday.
"This crane was being lowered into a secure position but something went wrong in that process and there's going to be a full investigation to find out what went wrong," de Blasio said, adding Friday's incident was the first crane collapse in the city since 2008.
The 565 foot crane is owned by Bay Crane, which has offices in Long Island City and Hicksville, and was being operated by Galasso Trucking and Rigging Inc., officials said.
The crane was being used to replace generators and air conditioner units on the roof of the former Western Union building at 60 Hudson Street, Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler said.
It had full permits and the site had been active for about a week after the crane went up on Jan. 30, officials said. It had been inspected as recently as Thursday because the boom was being extended, de Blasio said.
Inspectors found no problems with the crane, but Chandler said "it requires investigation in terms of the way this was done."
The city ordered all crawler and tower cranes across the city to be secured immediately following Friday's incident.
Despite the precautions put into place in 2008, another crane fell and killed a worker in April 2012 at a subway construction site that was exempt from most city building safety rules. In January 2013, a crane collapsed at a Queens construction site and injured seven workers.
In April, a construction worker died when the hydraulics malfunctioned on the boom truck he was inspecting in midtown Manhattan, causing the boom to collapse and fall on him, pinning him against the flatbed.
On Nov. 5, 2015, the steel arm of a minicrane killed a construction safety coordinator.
In other incidents, cranes have dropped loads or come close to falling apart, including a dramatic episode in which a crane's boom nearly snapped off during Superstorm Sandy and dangled precariously over a midtown block near Carnegie Hall.
A Bay Crane was also believed to be involved in a 2013 incident on Long Island. A crane toppled to its side at a construction site near Mineola Boulevard and First Street in Mineola. No injuries were reported.
In 2010, a Bay Crane smashed into the side of a building on Maiden Lane in Lower Manhattan.
Bay Crane said no comment when asked about Friday's incident.