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Empire State Building

 

The Empire State Building is a 102-story modern-day Art Deco style construction in New York City and is arguably the most celebrated skyscraper world-wide. It was designed by Shreve, Lamb and Harmon and completed in 1931. The tower takes its name from the nickname of New York State and is presently the highest building in New York City since the September 11th Attacks. The American Society of Civil Engineers stated the Empire State Building to be one of the modern Seven Wonders of the World.

 

History and statistics

Digging of the site began in January 1930, and building started in March. Building was hurried so as to take the name of "world's tallest building" from the Chrysler Building. The Empire State Building was formally opened on May 1, 1931, by President Herbert Hoover.

View from the top of the Empire State

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The ESB was the first building to have more than 100 floors. It stayed the tallest skyscraper world-wide for a record 41 years (and the world's tallest man-made structure for 23 years) until the building of the World Trade Centre, and later on the Sears Tower. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Empire State Building acquired the title of tallest building in New York City again and the 2nd tallest building in America.

Empire State Building
Empire State Building was the world's tallest building from 1931 to 1972. *
Previous tallest Chrysler Building
Surpassed by World Trade Center
Location New York City, U.S.
Height (m) 381 (roof)
Height (ft) 1,250 (roof)
Stories 102
Built 1931

The structure's characteristic art deco spire was in the first place planned to be a mooring mast and station for Zeppelins. After tests with airships, the idea proved to be impractical and unsafe due to the strong up draughts caused by the magnitude of the building itself, the T-shaped mooring devices continue to be in place.

The lobby is three stories high and comprises an aluminium relief of the skyscraper. The north corridor comprises eight illuminated panels, created by Roy Sparkia and Renée Nemorov in 1963, portraying the construction as the Eighth Wonder of the World alongside the long-standing seven.

The Empire State Building ascends to 1,250 feet or 381 m at the 102nd floor, and its full structural pinnacle (including broadcast transmitting aerial) reaches 1,472 feet or 448 m. The structure was formally opened on May 1, 1931, but much of its office area went unoccupied till the 1940s.

This want of tenants earned it the nickname "Empty State Building" in its early years. The sizeable broadcasting aerial ascending from the top of the structure's spire was added in 1952.

An open observatory at the top of the building offers amazing scenes of the city, and is a favourite tourist visitor attraction. Flood lamps light up the uppermost of the building at night, in colours selected to match the season and other events.

After the death of Frank Sinatra, for instance, the building was bathed in blue light to symbolise the singer's nickname "Ol' Blue Eyes."

Poll - Are you afraid of heights

Yes - No

Afraid of Heights - No=20  Yes=12

The floodlights bathed the building in red, white, and blue for several months after the devastation of the World Trade Centre. In addition the building will be lit in the colours of New York's sports teams on the nights of home games.

Facts about the Empire State Building
  • It weighs in about 330,000 metric tonnes.
  • Has 6,500 windows to look out from.
  • There are 73 elevators to take people up and down the building
  • 1860 steps from bottom to top floor.
  • Total floor space: 204,385 m² (2,200,000 square feet or 50.5 acres)
  • It's located at 350 Fifth Avenue, ZIP Code 10118

The building is on land where the original Waldorf Hotel used to be, a place for The Four Hundred, the social upper class of New York at the end of the 19th Century. In the late 18th century it was the John Thomson Farm.

1945 plane crash

Saturday July 28, 1945 saw a B-25 Mitchell bomber accidentally crash into the north side of the building between the 79th and 80th floors, the offices of the National Catholic Welfare Council. The fire was put out within in 40 minutes and 14 people were killed.

During the incident, Betty Oliver, an elevator operator, survived a plunge of 75 stories and presently has the Guinness World Record for the longest elevator fall recorded.

Media

The Empire State Building has been described as "the most valuable building in American broadcasting". New York City is the largest media market in the United States, and since September 11, 2001, nearly all of New York's commercial broadcast stations (both television and radio) have transmitted from the top of Empire. A few stations are located at the nearby Conde Nast Building, however.

Broadcasting began at Empire in the late 1930s, when RCA leased the 85th floor and built a laboratory there for Edwin Howard Armstrong. When Armstrong and RCA fell out, the 85th floor became the home of RCA's New York television operations, first as an experimental station and eventually as a commercial station WNBT, channel 4 (now WNBC-TV). Other television broadcasters would join RCA at Empire, on the 83rd, 82nd, and 81st floors, frequently bringing sister FM stations along for the ride. When the World Trade Center was being constructed, it caused serious problems for the television stations, most of which moved to the World Trade Center as soon as it was completed. This made it possible to renovate the antenna structure and the transmitter facilities for the benefit of the FM stations remaining there, which were soon joined by other FMs and UHF TVs moving in from elsewhere in the metropolitan area. The destruction of the World Trade Center necessitated a great deal of shuffling of antennas and transmitter rooms in order to accommodate the stations moving back uptown.

As of 2005, Empire is home to the following stations:

  • TV: WCBS-TV 2, WNBC-TV 4, WNYW 5, WABC-TV 7, WWOR-TV 9 Secaucus, WPIX-TV 11, WNET 13 Newark, WNYE-TV 25, WXTV 41 Paterson, WNJU 47 Linden, and WFUT-TV 68 Newark
  • FM: WFNY-FM 92.3, WPAT-FM 93.1 Paterson, WNYC-FM 93.9, WPLJ 95.5, WQXR-FM 96.3, WQHT-FM 97.1, WSKQ-FM 97.9, WRKS-FM 98.7, WBAI 99.5, WHTZ 100.3 Newark, WCBS-FM 101.1, WQCD 101.9, WNEW 102.7, WKTU 103.5 Lake Success, WAXQ 104.3, WWPR-FM 105.1, WCAA 105.9 Newark, WLTW 106.7, and WBLS 107.5.

In pop culture

  • Perhaps the most famous popular culture representation of the building is in the 1933 film King Kong, in which the title character, a giant ape, climbs to the top to escape his captors, and eventually dies by falling off of it. In 1983, for the 50th anniversary of the film, an inflatable King Kong was placed on the real Empire State Building. However, a mouse chewed through it one day, partially deflating the ape. He also needed a constant supply of air, and was never fully inflated.
  • In 2005, Peter Jackson, director of the blockbuster Lord of the Rings movies, released a new version of King Kong set in a recreation of 1930's New York City, including a final showdown between Kong and the bi-planes atop a greatly detailed Empire State Building.
  • The observation deck was the designated site for romantic rendezvous in the films Love Affair, An Affair to Remember, Sleepless In Seattle, and a phony Martian invasion in an episode of I Love Lucy.
  • The film Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow opens with a zeppelin docking at the building's mooring mast. Additionally, the building can be seen with King Kong scaling it in the background of one of the shots.
  • An episode of the Supermarionation science fiction series Thunderbirds involves an attempt to move the Empire State Building to a new location, resulting in the building's collapse, with people trapped underneath that must be rescued.
  • In the 300th issue of Superman magazine, the Empire State building is refurbished during the early 1980s to reclaim the title of world's tallest building; rising 1000 stories.
  • In the movie Independence Day, the building is ground zero when an alien spaceship destroys New York City. This depiction was a homage to a similar SF invasion movie scene described in the science fiction short story "Publicity Campain" by Arthur C. Clarke. .
  • In The Chase, a 1965 serial from the William Hartnell-era of Doctor Who, the Doctor, Barbara Wright, Ian Chesterton and Vicki, fleeing through time and space with a group of Daleks in hot pursuit, arrive in their TARDIS time machine on the Observation Deck of the Empire State Building (thus avoiding the long lines). They leave shortly after arriving and shortly before the pursuing Daleks' time machine materializes. The Daleks, ignoring the view, leave almost immediately.
  • The building has a cameo role in the 1946 cartoon Baseball Bugs. Fitting the cartoon's theme, the skyscraper is labeled the "Umpire State Building".
  • In Godzilla: Final Wars. the pterosaur Rodan perches atop the skyscraper and howls at the moon before continuing his rampage on New York City eventually destroying the Statue of Liberty.
  • In Unbuilding, by David Macaulay, the building is bought and dissassembled, to be reassembled halfway across the world as a corporate headquarters.
  • In the 2003 Christmas-themed film Elf, Will Ferrell's father, played by James Caan, works in a publishing company in the building.
  • In the 2 parter season 4 episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise, Storm Front, there is an alternate timeline where the eastern side of the United States is being conquered by the Germans, with the aid of aliens. The opening teaser of part 2, shows a propaganda news reel which shows footage of Adolf Hitler visiting New York, and the Empire State Building.
  • In Futurama episode "Anthology of Interest I", huge Bender falls on the Empire State Building. He says before dying: "Oooh... who put this in here?"
  • In the video game Spider-Man 2, you can explore, wing from and climb the Manhattan skyscrapers, including the ESB. It is common for the player to climb to the top and dive off, seeing how close to the ground he/she can get before bailing out on a web-line.

Similar skyscrapers

The Torre Latinoamericana in Mexico City looks very similar to the Empire State Building. Also of similar design are the Seven Sisters in Moscow, such as the Moscow State University building and the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, Poland. The Williams Tower in Houston is a glass-architecture version of the design, and the entrance on the ground floor is very similar.

The Reynolds Building, headquarters for the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in Winston-Salem, North Carolina is the oldest skyscraper in the southeastern United States, and said to be the prototype for the Empire State Building.

Further reading

  • The Empire State Building Book
  • Unbuilding, by David Macaulay, Houghton Mifflin, 1986.
  • The Empire State Building - The making of a landmarkk

Photo of The Empire State Building

Photo of The Empire State Building

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