Empire State Building

The Empire State Building is a skyscraper located in the Manhattan area of New York City. It stands 102-story tall and held the record for being the world’s tallest building for some time. The building has been frequently touted in literature and media as an icon of the American culture. It remains one of the most recognized structures in the United States.

History

In the late 19th century, the site of the Empire State Building was home to the Waldorf Hotel. This hotel was demolished and the space cleared for the construction of the Empire State Building in 1930. Although the original design of the building comprised of 50 stories, it was later revised and 86 stories were constructed.

The pace of construction was incredibly rapid. Every week, nearly four and a half floors of the building were constructed. The building was completed and opened a mere thirteen and a half months after the construction had begun. Although the building immediately became an icon, it didn’t return a profit until about 20 years later.

However, tourist visits to the top floor of the building started soon after its completion. During the first year of the building alone, it earned nearly $2 million as a result of the tourist visits to the observation deck.

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Empire State Building aerial view

Architecture

The Empire State Building has 85 stories of commercial and office space. Atop the 85 stories, the building features an iconic Art Deco spire which contains another 16 stories. As a result, the building has a total of 102 stories. On top of the 102nd floor is a tall pinnacle which has a height of 203 feet. The pinnacle itself is covered by broadcast equipment. In total, the building stands 1453 feet tall.

The tall spire at the top of the building was originally intended to be a docking station for the airships. The actual plan was to take passengers to the 101st floor in an elevator where they would purchase tickets for the airship and climb to the ship. However, it was later found that airships could not stay stable and couldn’t securely be docked to the spire. One U.S. Navy airship made an attempt to dock at the spire but the attempt failed.

Importance

The Empire State Building was the first building in the world that stood above 100 floors tall. It was also the tallest building in the world for some time. Over time, the building became synonymous with the name of New York City. It was cited in movies such as ‘King Kong’, TV shows, novels and non-fiction publications.

This has largely contributed towards making it one of the most popular and liked buildings among the Americans. Empire State Building has also been included among the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by various publications.

Empire State Building Observatory

Among the most popular areas of the Empire State Building are the two observation decks located atop its 86nd and 102nd floors. The observatories are incredibly popular among the tourists. On average, the twin observatories receive more than 4 million visitors every year.

The entry to the observatories is ticketed so that the building earns massive revenue each year from the visitors. In fact, the building sometimes earns more annual revenue from ticket sales than from renting its offices.

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Empire State Building Observation Deck Midtown skyline viewed from observation deck at night

New York Skyride

Another iconic feature of the Empire State Building was the New York Skyride. The skyride featured a motion simulator. It was situated on the 2nd floor and served as an alternative to the observation deck. However, the simulator was later shut down for various reasons.

Empire State Building Lights

The lights installed on the Empire State Building have a status as iconic as the building itself. The lights have been used to highlight or celebrate various important occasions in the American history. Upon the death of the singer Frank Sinatra, for instance, the building was bathed in blue light to denote the event. Similarly, the lights turned blue when the Democratic candidate Barack Obama won the presidential elections in 2012.

Empire State Building Records

Empire State Building has held various records over the course of its history. Most notable among these is the record for the tallest skyscraper in the world. It held this record for 42 years until 1970 when the World Trade Center’s North Tower became the tallest building.

Other records held by the Empire State Building include the tallest freestanding structure in the world and the tallest man-made structure in the world. Today, the building is the 28th tallest building in the world.

Plane Crash into the Empire State Building

In 1945, a plane crashed into the building between the 79th and 80 floors. The incident led to the deaths of nearly 14 people and some destruction caused by property. However, it didn’t lead to any major loss in property or lives. The incident led to the enactment of many new aviation reforms as well as legislations.

Suicide Attempts at Empire State Building

Being one of the tallest and most iconic structures in the United States, the Empire State Building is a popular venue for suicide attempts. Over the course of its history, the building has been home to above 30 suicide attempts. Many of these attempts were made from the 76th and 86th floors of the building.

Preventive measures have been taken to stop people from committing suicide by jumping from the building. Two people who jumped from the building somehow landed on the extended ledge of the floors below and were saved.

The Empire State Building Run-Up

The Empire State Building Run-Up is an annual activity organized at the building. It started in 1978 and has been organized every year since. The Run-Up is a sort of race in which participants race from the ground level of the building all the way to the observation deck.

In all, the participants have to climb nearly 1050 feet of vertical distance. The fastest record of climbing was achieved in 2003 when a climber reached the 86th floor in a mere 9 minutes and 33 seconds.

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Empire State Buildings Location in New York City

Learn More about the Empire State Building in New York City