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The Empire State Building: Construction, History and Facts

Content approved by Jerry Parker Towering 102 stories above the streets of New York City, the Empire State Building is a landmark in Midtown Manhattan. Its name was taken from New York state’s nickname, the Empire State, and the Empire State Building held the top spot on the list of tallest buildings in the world […]

Content approved by Jerry Parker

The Empire State Building: Construction, History and Facts Towering 102 stories above the streets of New York City, the Empire State Building is a landmark in Midtown Manhattan. Its name was taken from New York state’s nickname, the Empire State, and the Empire State Building held the top spot on the list of tallest buildings in the world until the World Trade Center took its place in 1970. The Art Deco design of the Empire State Building is iconic, and many tourists visit the building to take in the view from the observatories on floors 86 and 102. The Empire State Building has become a symbol of New York City, and it’s been ranked on many lists for its architecture and design.

Design and Construction

The Empire State Building has an Art Deco design, and it stands 1,454 feet tall at its pinnacle. When the Empire State Building was being constructed, competition was fierce for the title of world’s tallest building. The Empire State Building managed to steal the title from the Chrysler Building, which was built in 1929. Inside the building, the Art Deco style continues with metallic features on the ceilings, halls, and elevators. The ceiling mural in the lobby has a celestial motif with gold gears, stars, and sunbursts. During the 1960s, the ceiling was painted and covered with ceiling tiles, but in 2007, a restoration project succeeded in re-creating the mural.

History

The site of the Empire State Building was originally where the Waldorf Astoria Hotel stood on Fifth Avenue. The hotel was razed to make way for the Empire State Building in 1928. Construction began in 1930, and the plans were for the building to be at least 100 stories tall. Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon Associates were the architects, and Starrett Brothers & Eken were the builders on the project. It took just one year and 45 days from start to finish to build the Empire State Building, and the construction of the 102-story building dominated the news. On May 1, 1931, the lights on the building were illuminated for the first time.

Incidents and Accidents

A number of incidents and accidents have occurred at the Empire State Building over the years. Suicide attempts have happened at various times, with the first occurring while the building was still being built when a laid-off worker jumped into an open elevator shaft. Shootings have also occurred twice, once on an observation deck in 1997 and another time just outside of the building in 2012. In 1945, a U.S. Army B-25 bomber crashed into the Empire State Building at the 79th floor. Fog was thick over the city at the time of the accident, and 13 people died as a result of the crash.

Facts

As of 2020, the Empire State Building is the fourth-tallest building in New York City and the sixth-tallest building in the United States. Visitors would have to climb 1,872 steps to reach the top observatory, but the building has 73 elevators ready to whisk visitors up to the top. Approximately four million visitors visit the Empire State Building each year, and researchers with Cornell University concluded in 2011 that the Empire State Building is the most photographed building in the world. The tower lights on the top of the building are an iconic sight in the New York City skyline, and the lighting changes regularly to mark holidays and other events.

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