Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Story of... The Empire State Building

What was once the tallest building in the world is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. The Empire State Building is an icon of New York City - a pinnacle for building tall, a historical landmark, and of course a popular movie prop (think King Kong and Sleepless in Seattle). All of these things you probably already knew, but there’s a lot more to the building than that, that’s why we’re here to shed a bit more light on the story of the Empire State Building.

As we already mentioned, for 41 years the Empire State Building was the tallest building in the world. It was surpassed by the North Tower of the World Trade Center in 1972. The architects behind the project, Shreve, Lamb & Harmon Associates, wanted to create a cultural icon in NYC, and they succeeded! At the time there was a bit of a competition going on in the city to create the tallest building - The Chrysler Building and 40 Wall Street were the two buildings they were pitted against.
Photo via New York Public Library/Lewis Hine

The Art Deco-style building quickly rose to 102 storeys on 5th Avenue between 33rd and 34th Streets. Construction began on March 17, 1930 and the building officially opened on May 1, 1931. That means it took just over a year to build! The grand opening was a spectacle in itself, as Herbert Hoover (President at the time) turned its lights on from the White House in Washington. Unfortunately, since the building opened in the midst of the Great Depression, most of the office space was actually left unrented at the start. 

Photo via New York Public Library/Wurts Brothers

So, where does the Empire State Building stand now? Although it’s no longer the tallest in the world, it stands at 1,454 feet (including antenna) - which is HUGE! The 86th and 102nd floors are dedicated observatory floors and are usually packed with tourists taking in the amazing view of NYC. There are also 73 elevators in the building, so that no one has to wait for a trip up or down.

One last fun fact: tickets sales from the two observatory floors bring in more money every year than the rented office space on the other 100 floors - how crazy is that?

Photo via Jiuguang Wang on Flickr

Cover photo via Archana Pandey on Flickr