Empire State Building

See Empire State Building page on Wired New York

350 Fifth Avenue

9th highest building in the world

The Empire State Building

The Empire State Building

THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING was the brain-child of John J. Raskob, the vice-precident of General Motors, who wanted this new building to exceed the height of the Chrysler Building, still under construction when the plans were released on August 29, 1929. The site had previously housed the "twin hotel" of Waldorf-Astoria (Waldorf Hotel 1893, Astoria Hotel 1897, both by arch. Henry J. Hardenbergh), both built by the Astor family and eventually connected by a wide hall. After a fire the buildings were demolished, a new Waldorf-Astoria built farther uptown and the construction of the Empire State Building was started on the site. The excavations for the foundations were begun on January 1930, work on the steel framework in March of the same year, and the building was completed on April 11, 1931.

The steel beams for the frame were manufactured in Pittsburgh and transported immediately to New York, so that often the parts were installed only three days after coming from the roller. At best, the building rose 14 storeys in ten days! The official opening took place on May 1, 1931 when President Herbert Hoover switched on the building's lights from the White House in Washington, D.C.. Because of the Depression, the building cost only $41 million instead of the estimated 60.

The 381 m tall (449 m after the addition of the TV mast in 1951 -- after antenna modifications in the early 1990s, 443.5 m) and 102-storey building was the tallest in the world until the 1 World Trade Center tower rose higher 41 years later. Topped with a mooring mast for airships, the Empire State Building became immediately a landmark and a symbol for NYC. The building is clad in Indiana limestone and granite, with the mullions lined in shiny aluminium. The spandrels are sandblasted to blend their tone to that of the windows, visually creating the vertical striping on the facade. Because of the Depression, in the beginning it was difficult to get the building's office space rented (a problem it has suffered from until today) and the building thus got the nickname "Empty State Building"; by the opening day, less than half of the total office space had been rented.

The high entrance lobby is lined in marble imported from Europe and sports an imposing silhouette image of the building itself. There are 73 elevators, and anyone wanting to take the stairs to the top must negotiate 1,860 steps. The building has 6,500 windows and there are floodlights that illuminate the top of the building on certain public holidays and other notable occasions (there are eighteen different colour patterns). A testimony of the building's structural strength is the fact that when in 1945 a twin-engined bomber crashed on the 79th floor of the building, killing fourteen people, the damage to the building was confined to the outer wall, although one engine went right through the whole building...

A total of 70 million people have visited the viewing platforms at 86th and 102nd floors, at the rate of 35,000 a day.

Empire State Building official site

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