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Empire State Building

History: Empire State Building
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
U.S. National Historic Landmark
NYC Landmark
Location: 350 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10118, United States
Coordinates:
404454.36 735908.36 / 40.7484333N 73.9856556W / 40.7484333; -73.9856556Coordinates: 404454.36 735908.36 / 40.7484333N 73.9856556W / 40.7484333; -73.9856556
Architect:  Shreve, Lamb and Harmon
Architectural style(s):  Art Deco
Added to NRHP:  November 17, 1982
Designated NHL:  June 24, 1986
Designated NYCL:  May 19, 1981
NRHP Reference#: 82001192 


The site of the Empire State Building was first developed as the John Thomson Farm in the late 18th century. At the time, a stream ran across the site, emptying into Sunfish Pond, located a block away. Beginning in the late 19th century the block was occupied by the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, frequented by The Four Hundred, the social elite of New York.

Night view of Empire State Design and construction

The Empire State Building was designed by William F. Lamb from the architectural firm Shreve, Lamb and Harmon, which produced the building drawings in just two weeks, using its earlier designs for the Reynolds Building in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and the Carew Tower in Cincinnati, Ohio (designed by the architectural firm W.W. Ahlschlager & Associates) as a basis. Every year the staff of the Empire State Building sends a Father's Day card to the staff at the Reynolds Building in Winston-Salem to pay homage to its role as predecessor to the Empire State Building. The building was designed from the top down. The general contractors were The Starrett Brothers and Eken, and the project was financed primarily by John J. Raskob and Pierre S. du Pont. The construction company was chaired by Alfred E. Smith, a former Governor of New York and James Farley's General Builders Supply Corporation supplied the building materials. John W. Bowser was project construction superintendant.

Excavation of the site began on January 22, 1930, and construction on the building itself started symbolically on March 17t.Patrick's Dayer Al Smith's influence as Empire State, Inc. president. The project involved 3,400 workers, mostly immigrants from Europe, along with hundreds of Mohawk iron workers, many from the Kahnawake reserve near Montreal. According to official accounts, five workers died during the construction. Governor Smith's grandchildren cut the ribbon on May 1, 1931. Lewis Wickes Hine's photography of the construction provides not only invaluable documentation of the construction, but also a glimpse into common day life of workers in that era. In particular the photo of a worker climbing a stay cable is talismanic of the era and the building itself.
A view of Empire State across the street
The construction was part of an intense competition in New York for the title of "world's tallest building". Two other projects fighting for the title, 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler Building, were still under construction when work began on the Empire State Building. Each held the title for less than a year, as the Empire State Building surpassed them upon its completion, just 410 days after construction commenced. The building was officially opened on May 1, 1931 in dramatic fashion, when United States President Herbert Hoover turned on the building's lights with the push of a button from Washington, D.C. Ironically, the first use of tower lights atop the Empire State Building, the following year, was for the purpose of signalling the victory of Franklin D. Roosevelt over Hoover in the presidential election of November 1932.

Opening

The building's opening coincided with the Great Depression in the United States, and as a result much of its office space went without being rented. The building's vacancy was exacerbated by its poor location on 34th Street, which placed it relatively far from public transportation, as Grand Central Terminal, the Port Authority Bus Terminal, and Penn Station are all several blocks away. Other more successful skyscrapers, such as the Chrysler Building, do not have this problem. In its first year of operation, the observation deck took in approximately 2 million dollars, as much money as its owners made in rent that year. The lack of renters led New Yorkers to deride the building as the "Empty State Building". The building would not become profitable until 1950. The famous 1951 sale of The Empire State Building to Roger L. Stevens and his business partners was brokered by the prominent upper Manhattan real-estate firm Charles F. Noyes & Company for a record $51 million. At the time, that was the highest price ever paid for a single structure in real-estate history.

Dirigible (airship) terminal

The building's distinctive Art Deco spire was originally designed to be a mooring mast and depot for dirigibles. The 102nd floor was originally a landing platform with a dirigible gangplank. A particular elevator, traveling between the 86th and 102nd floors, was supposed to transport passengers after they checked in at the observation deck on the 86th floor. However, the idea proved to be impractical and dangerous after a few attempts with airships, due to the powerful updrafts caused by the size of the building itself. A large broadcast tower was added to the top of the spire in 1953.

1945 plane crash

Crash by a U.S. Army B-25 bomber on July 28, 1945

At 9:40 a.m.on Saturday, July 28, 1945, a B-25 Mitchell bomber, piloted in thick fog by Lieutenant Colonel William Franklin Smith, Jr., crashed into the north side of the Empire State Building, between the 79th and 80th floors, where the offices of the National Catholic Welfare Council were located. One engine shot through the side opposite the impact and flew as far as the next block where it landed on the roof of a nearby building, starting a fire that destroyed a penthouse. The other engine and part of the landing gear plummeted down an elevator shaft. The resulting fire was extinguished in 40 minutes. 14 people were killed in the incident. Elevator operator Betty Lou Oliver survived a plunge of 75 stories inside an elevator, which still stands as the Guinness World Record for the longest survived elevator fall recorded. Despite the damage and loss of life, the building was open for business on many floors on the following Monday. The crash helped spur the passage of the long-pending Federal Tort Claims Act of 1946, as well as the insertion of retroactive provisions into the law, allowing people to sue the government for the accident.

A year later, another aircraft had a close encounter with the skyscraper. It narrowly missed striking the building.

Height records and comparisons

 
Height comparison in buildings in New York City
The Empire State Building remained the tallest man-made structure in the world for 23 years before it was surpassed by the Griffin Television Tower Oklahoma (KWTV Mast) in 1954. It was also the tallest free-standing structure in the world for 36 years before it was surpassed by the Ostankino Tower in 1967.

The longest world record held by the Empire State Building was for the tallest skyscraper (to structural height), which it held for 42 years until it was surpassed by the North Tower of the World Trade Center in 1973. With the destruction of the World Trade Center in the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Empire State Building again became the tallest building in New York City, and the second-tallest building in the Americas, currently surpassed only by the Willis Tower in Chicago. When measured by pinnacle height, the Empire State Building is currently the third-tallest building in the Americas, surpassed only by the Willis Tower and the Trump International Hotel and Tower.

World Trade Center, currently under construction in New York City, is expected to exceed the height of the Empire State Building upon completion. The Chicago Spire is also expected to exceed the height of the Empire State Building upon completion, but its construction has been halted due to financial problems.

Suicides

Over the years, more than thirty people have committed suicide from the top of the building. The first suicide occurred even before its completion, by a worker who had been laid off. The fence around the observatory terrace was put up in 1947 after five people tried to jump during a three-week span. On December 2, 1979, Elvita Adams jumped from the 86th floor, only to be blown back onto the 85th floor and left with only a broken hip.

Shootings

On February 24, 1997, a Palestinian gunman shot seven people on the observation deck, killing one, then fatally wounding himself.

Architecture

The Empire State Building (in center of image) is the tallest building in New York City. The Empire State Building rises to 1,250 ft (381 m) at the 102nd floor, and including the 203 ft (62 m) pinnacle, its full height reaches 1,453 ft8916 in (443.09 m). The building has 85 stories of commercial and office space representing 2,158,000 sq ft (200,500 m2). It has an indoor and outdoor observation deck on the 86th floor. The remaining 16 stories represent the Art Deco tower, which is capped by a 102nd-floor observatory. Atop the tower is the 203 ft (62 m) pinnacle, much of which is covered by broadcast antennas, with a lightning rod at the very top.

The Empire State Building was the first building to have more than 100 floors. It has 6,500 windows and 73 elevators, and there are 1,860 steps from street level to the 103rd floor. It has a total floor area of 2,768,591 sq ft (257,211 m2); the base of the Empire State Building is about 2 acres (8,094 m2). The building houses 1,000 businesses, and has its own zip code, 10118. As of 2007, approximately 21,000 employees work in the building each day, making the Empire State Building the second-largest single office complex in America, after the Pentagon. The building was completed in one year and 45 days. Its original 64 elevators are located in a central core; today, the Empire State Building has 73 elevators in all, including service elevators. It takes less than one minute by elevator to get to the 86th floor, where an observation deck is located. The building has 70 mi (113 km) of pipe, 2,500,000 ft (760,000 m) of electrical wire, and about 9,000 faucets.[citation needed] It is heated by low-pressure steam; despite its height, the building only requires between 2 and 3 psi (14 and 21 kPa) of steam pressure for heating. It weighs approximately 370,000 short tons (340,000 t). The exterior of the building was built using Indiana limestone panels.

Setbacks of Empire State Building to taper Structure with height
Setbacks to taper Structure with height
The Empire State Building cost $40,948,900 to build.  A series of setbacks causes the building to taper with height. Unlike most of today's skyscrapers, the Empire State Building features an art deco design, typical of pre-World War II architecture in New York. The modernistic stainless steel canopies of the entrances on 33rd and 34th Streets lead to two story-high corridors around the elevator core, crossed by stainless steel and glass-enclosed bridges at the second-floor level. The elevator core contains 67 elevators.

The lobby is three stories high and features an aluminum relief of the skyscraper without the antenna, which was not added to the spire until 1952. The north corridor contains eight illuminated panels, created by Roy Sparkia and Rene Nemorov in 1963, depicting the building as the Eighth Wonder of the World, alongside the traditional seven.

Long-term forecasting of the life cycle of the structure was implemented at the design phase to ensure that the building's future intended uses were not restricted by the requirements of previous generations. This is particularly evident in the over-design of the building's electrical system.

Floodlights

Empire State Building with red and green lights for Christmas, as seen from GE Building  Empire State Building with normal white lighting, as seen from New Jersey In 1964, floodlights were added to illuminate the top of the building at night, in colors chosen to match seasonal and other events, such as St. Patrick's Day, Christmas, Independence Day or Bastille Day. After the eightieth birthday and subsequen death of Frank Sinatra, for example, the building was bathed in blue light to represent the singer's nickname "Ol' Blue Eyes". After the death of actress Fay Wray (King Kong) in late 2004, the building stood in complete darkness for 15 minutes.

The floodlights bathed the building in red, white, and blue for several months after the destruction of the World Trade Center, then reverted to the standard schedule. Traditionally, in addition to the standard schedule, the building will be lit in the colors of New York's sports teams on the nights they have home games (orange, blue and white for the New York Knicks, red, white and blue for the New York Rangers, and so on). The first weekend in June finds the building bathed in green light for the Belmont Stakes held in nearby Belmont Park. The building is illuminated in tennis-ball yellow during the US Open tennis tournament in late August and early September. It was twice lit in scarlet to support nearby Rutgers University: once for a football game against the University of Louisville on November 9, 2006 , and again on April 3, 2007 when the women's basketball team played in the national championship game.  In 1995, the building was lit up in blue, red, green and yellow for the release of Microsoft's Windows 95 operating system, which was launched with a $300 million campaign. The building has also been known to be illuminated in purple and white in honor of graduating students from New York University.

Every year in September, the building is lit in black, red, and yellow, with the top lights off (for black) to celebrate the German-American Steuben Parade on Fifth Avenue.

The building was lit green for three days in honor of the Islamic holiday of Eid ul-Fitr in October 2007. The lighting, the first for a Muslim holiday, is intended to be an annual event and was repeated in 2008 and 2009. In December 2007, the building was lit yellow to signify the home video release of The Simpsons Movie.

From April 2527, 2008 the building was lit in lavender, pink, and white in celebration of international pop diva Mariah Carey's accomplishments in the world of music and the release of her eleventh studio album E=MC2.[citation needed]

In late October 2008, the building was lit green in honor of the fifth anniversary of the acclaimed Broadway Musical Wicked by Kerry Ellis and Stephen Schwartz.

Starting in 2008, the building along with New York City and many other cities around the world, participated in Earth Hour. The skyscraper's floodlights were turned off for exactly an hour to conserve energy.

In September 2009, the building was lit for one night in orange colors, in celebration of the exploration of Manhattan Island by Henry Hudson 400 years earlier. The Dutch prince Willem-Alexander van Oranje and princess Maxima were present and turned on the lights from the lobby.

In 2009, the building was lit for one night in red and yellow, the colors of the Communist People's Republic of China, to celebrate the 60 years since its founding, amid controversy.

Observation decks

The Empire State Building has one of the most popular outdoor observatories in the world, having been visited by over 110 million people. The 86th-floor observation deck offers impressive 360-degree views of the city. There is a second observation deck on the 102nd floor that is open to the public. It was closed in 1999, but reopened in November 2005. It is completely enclosed and much smaller than the first one; it may be closed on high-traffic days. Tourists may pay to visit the observation deck on the 86th floor and an additional amount for the 102nd floor. The lines to enter the observation decks, according to the building's website, are "as legendary as the building itself:" there are five of them: the sidewalk line, the lobby elevator line, the ticket purchase line, the second elevator line, and the line to get off the elevator and onto the observation deck. For an extra fee tourists can skip to the front of the line.

The skyscraper observation deck plays host to several cinematic, television, and literary classics including, An Affair To Remember, Love Affair and Sleepless in Seattle. In the Latin American literary work Empire of Dreams by Giannina Braschi the observation deck is the site of a pastoral revolution; shepherds take over the City of New York. The deck was also the site of a Martian invasion on an old episode of I Love Lucy.

A panoramic view of New York City from the 86th-floor observation deck of the Empire State Building, spring 2005


The Empire State Building also has a motion simulator attraction, located on the 2nd floor. Opened in 1994 as a complement to the observation deck, the New York Skyride (or NY Skyride) is a simulated aerial tour over the city. The theatrical presentation lasts approximately 25 minutes.

Since its opening, the ride has gone through two incarnations. The original version, which ran from 1994 until around 2002, featured James Doohan, Star Trek's Scotty, as the airplane's pilot, who humorously tried to keep the flight under control during a storm, with the tour taking an unexpected route through the subway, Coney Island, and FAO Schwartz, among other places. After September 11th, however, the ride was closed, and an updated version debuted in mid-2002 with actor Kevin Bacon as the pilot. The new version of the narration attempted to make the attraction more educational, and included some minor post-9/11 patriotic undertones with retrospective footage of the World Trade Center. The new flight also goes haywire, but this segment is much shorter than in the original.
Top of the Empire State Building: Communications devices for broadcast stations
Broadcast stations

New York City is the largest media market in the United States. Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, nearly all of the city's commercial broadcast stations (both television and FM radio) have transmitted from the top of the Empire State Building, although a few FM stations are located at the nearby Cond Nast Building. Most New York City AM stations broadcast from just across the Hudson River in New Jersey.

Communications devices for broadcast stations are located at the top of the Empire State Building. Broadcasting began at Empire on December 22, 1931, when RCA began transmitting experimental television broadcasts from a small antenna erected atop the spire. They leased the 85th floor and built a laboratory there, andn 1934CA was joined by Edwin Howard Armstrong in a cooperative venture to test his FM system from the Empire antenna. When Armstrong and RCA fell out in 1935 and his FM equipment was removed, the 85th floor became the home of RCA's New York television operations, first as experimental station W2XBS channel 1, which eventually became (on July 1, 1941) commercial station WNBT, channel 1 (now WNBC-TV channel 4). NBC's FM station (WEAF-FM, now WQHT) began transmitting from the antenna in 1940. NBC retained exclusive use of the top of the Empire until 1950, when the FCC ordered the exclusive deal broken, based on consumer complaints that a common location was necessary for the (now) seven New York television stations to transmit from so that receiving antennas would not have to be constantly adjusted. Construction on a giant tower began. Other television broadcasters then joined RCA at Empire, on the 83rd, 82nd, and 81st floors, frequently bringing sister FM stations along for the ride. Multiple transmissions of TV and FM began from the new tower in 1951. In 1965, a separate set of FM antennas were constructed ringing the 103rd floor observation area. When the World Trade Center was being constructed, it caused serious problems for the television stations, most of which then 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 2009, the Empire State Building 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, WPXN-TV 31, WXTV 41 Paterson, WNJU 47 Linden, and WFUT-TV 68 Newark
FM: WXRK 92.3, WPAT-FM 93.1 Paterson, WNYC-FM 93.9, WPLJ 95.5, WXNY 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, WRXP 101.9, WWFS 102.7, WKTU 103.5 Lake Success, WAXQ 104.3, WWPR-FM 105.1, WQXR-FM 105.9 Newark, WLTW 106.7, and WBLS 107.5

Empire State Building Run-Up

The Empire State Building Run-Up is a foot race from ground level to the 86th-floor observation deck that has been held annually since 1978. Its participants are referred to both as runners and as climbers, and are often tower running enthusiasts. The race covers a vertical distance of 1,050 feet (320 m) and takes in 1,576 steps. The record time is 9 minutes and 33 seconds, achieved by Australian professional cyclist Paul Crake in 2003, at a climbing rate of 6,593 ft (2,010 m) per hour.

In popular culture
Film

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 but falls to his death. In 1983, for the 50th anniversary of the film, an inflatable King Kong was placed on the actual building. In 2005, a remake of King Kong was released, set in 1930s New York City, including a final showdown between Kong and bi-planes atop a greatly detailed Empire State Building. (The 1976 remake of King Kong was set in a contemporary New York City and held its climactic scene on the towers of the World Trade Center.)

The 1939 romantic drama film Love Affair involves a couple who plan to meet atop the Empire State Building, a rendezvous that is averted by an automobile accident. The film was remade in 1957 (as An Affair to Remember) and in 1994 (again as Love Affair). The 1993 film Sleepless in Seattle, a romantic comedy partially inspired by An Affair to Remember, climaxes with a scene at the Empire State observatory.

Andy Warhol's 1964 silent film Empire is one continuous, eight-hour shot of the Empire State Building at night, shot in black-and-white. In 2004, the National Film Registry deemed its cultural significance worthy of preservation in the Library of Congress.

The film Independence Day features the Empire State Building as ground zero for an alien attack; it is devastated by the aliens' primary weapon which incinerates most of New York City.

Many other movies that feature the Empire State Building are listed on the building's own website.

Television 


The Empire State Building featured in the 1966 Doctor Who serial The Chase, in which the TARDIS lands on the roof of the building; The Doctor and his companions leave quite quickly, however, because The Daleks are close behind them. A Dalek is also seen on the roof of the building while it interrogates a human. In 2007, Doctor Who episodes "Daleks in Manhattan" and "Evolution of the Daleks" also featured the building, which the Daleks are constructing to use as a lightning conductor. Russell T Davies said in an article that "in his mind", the Daleks remembered the building from their last visit.

The Discovery Channel show MythBusters tested the urban myth which claims that if one drops a penny off the top of the Empire State Building, it could kill someone or put a crater in the pavement. The outcome was that, by the time the penny hits the ground, it is going roughly 65 mph (105 km/h) (terminal velocity for an object of its mass and shape), which is not fast enough to inflict lethal injury or put a crater into the pavement. The urban legend is a joke in the 2003 musical Avenue Q, where a character waiting atop the building for a rendezvous tosses a penny over the sidenly to hit her rival.

Literature

H.G. Wells' 1933 science fiction book The Shape of Things to Come, written in the form of a history book published in the far future, includes the following passage: "Up to quite recently Lower New York has been the most old-fashioned city in the world, unique in its gloomy antiquity. The last of the ancient skyscrapers, the Empire State Building, is even now under demolition in C.E. 2106!".

In the science fiction novel The Rebel of Rhada by Robert Cham Gilman (Alfred Coppel), taking place at a decayed galactic empire of the far future, New York is an ancient city which was destroyed and rebuilt countless times. Its highest and most ancient building, covered with piled-up ruins up to half its height, is known simply as "The Empire Tower", but is obviously the Empire State Building.

David Macaulay's 1980 illustrated book Unbuilding depicts the Empire State Building being purchased by a Middle Eastern billionaire and disassembled piece by piece, to be transported to his home country and rebuilt there.

The Empire State Building is featured prominently as both a setting and integral plot device throughout much of Michael Chabon's 2000 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.

In the Percy Jackson book series, Mount Olympus is located over the Empire State Building, and there is a special elevator in the building to the "600th floor," which is supposed to be Olympus.

Tenants
Notable tenants of the building include:
Alitalia, Suite 3700
Croatian National Tourist Board, Suite 4003
Filipino Reporter, Suite 601
Human Rights Watch, 34th Floor
Polish Cultural Institute in New York, Suite 4621           
Senegal Tourist Office, Suite 3118
TAROM, Suite 1410
The King's College, Suite 1500

Former tenants include:
China National Tourist Office (now located at 370 Lexington Avenue)
National Film Board of Canada (now located at 1123 Broadway)
Nathaniel Branden Institute

Gallery
A view upward of the Empire State Building from Broadway
The top of the Empire State Building

Looking up
Looking Down
Looking towards Times Square
Art deco elevators in the lobby
Panoramic view of Midtown Manhattan from observation deck
The Empire State Building lights up in yellow and red during the 60th anniversary of the PRC

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