Tallest in the world for 41 years and saved by King Kong…
Location: 350 5th Ave between 33rd and 34th Streets
Architect: William F. Lamb of Shreve, Lamb & Harmon
The first in the world to rise over 100 stories, and constructed in mere 14 months, the Empire State Building stood as the tallest in the world for 41 years.
Stunning in both its height and Art Deco simplicity, the building rises in a series of setbacks ending with a bold tower, which was originally intended as a mooring dock for dirigibles.
Billed as the Eighth Wonder of the World at its opening, the Empire State Building broke records as the tallest in the world, the first to have more than 100 stories, and the one to be constructed in a record time of one year and forty-five days.
In 1955 The American Society of Civil Engineers selected the Empire State Building as one of the seven greatest engineering achievements in the world.
Completed in 1931, during the Great Depression, it stood largely vacant and became known as the “Empty” building. In a story more unbelievable than a Hollywood movie, it was saved by… a Hollywood movie! After King Kong climbed its spire in the 1933 production, the Empire State observation deck became a major tourist attraction. The income collected from tourists’ visits allowed the owners to pay taxes on the building until the 1950s when the economy turned and the Empire State could function at its intended capacity.
These days the Empire State houses 1,000 businesses with about 21,000 people and has its own zip code. The Empire State Building has 2 observation decks, one – on the 86th floor and another on 102nd.
The building was officially opened on May 1, 1931, in dramatic fashion, when United States President Herbert Hoover turned on its lights with the push of a button from Washington, D.C.
Ironically, the first use of tower lights atop the Empire State Building in the following year was for the purpose of signaling the victory of Franklin D. Roosevelt over Hoover in the presidential election of 1932.
It’s kind of funny now, but in 1961 the Empire State Building was sold to an investment group for $65,000,000. The price was supposedly the highest ever paid for a single building at the time. The reason it’s funny is that there are apartments in New York City today which sell for more than twice as much.
In 1964, floodlights were added to illuminate the top of the building at night, with colors chosen to match important events in the life of the city. The colors are chosen to mark major holidays, sporting events, famous personalities, etc. According to its policies, the ESB does not grant lightings for personal requests such as birthdays, anniversaries, commercial or religious events, and political campaigns.
Since 1978 the Empire State Building has hosted a vertical race to the 86th-floor called the Empire State Run-Up. Participants run the vertical distance of 1,050 feet or 1,576 steps. Some of the recorded times are under 10 minutes!
The Empire State owes its survival to the movie King-Kong. The ESB official site lists over a hundred movies featuring the building. Here are some of them:
The Amazing Spider-Man
An Affair to Remember
French Connection I
North By Northwest
Sleepless in Seattle
Kramer vs. Kramer
On the Waterfront
Height 1,250′ (381 metres), 1,454′ (449 metres) to tip
Floors 102 (or 103)
The Empire State Building also offers VIPs, celebrities, and dignitaries exclusive access to its 103rd floor.
Style Art Deco
85 stories of commercial and office space
6,500 windows and 73 elevators
21,000 people work in the building
1,860 steps from street level to the top
70 miles (113 km) of pipes
Lightning hits about 100 times a year
On a clear day, visitors can see 80 miles into New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts.
The building grew astonishing four-and-a-half stories a week.