Empire State Building
Learn more about Empire State Building
|Empire State Building|
Empire State Building was the world's tallest building from 1931 to 1972.*
|Preceded by||Chrysler Building|
|Surpassed by|| World Trade Center (1972-2001)|
Sears Tower (1973)
|Location||New York, New York, USA|
|Antenna/Spire||1,454 feet (443 m)|
|Roof||1,250 feet (381 m)|
|Floor area|| 2,200,000 sq. ft.|
200,000 sq. m
|* Fully habitable, self-supported, from main entrance to rooftop; see world's tallest structures for other listings.</font>|
The Empire State Building is a 102-story contemporary Art Deco style skyscraper in New York City, declared by the American Society of Civil Engineers to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
Designed by Shreve, Lamb and Harmon, it was finished in 1931. The tower takes its name from the nickname of New York State. Since the World Trade Center was destroyed in the September 11, 2001 attacks, it is again the tallest building in New York City. It is currently the second tallest building in the United States after the Sears Tower in Chicago.
The building belongs to the World Federation of Great Towers.
Unlike most of today's high-rise buildings, the Empire State has a classic façade. The building's distinctive art deco spire was originally designed to be a mooring mast and depot for zeppelins. However, after a couple of test attempts with airships, the idea proved to be impractical and dangerous due to the powerful updrafts caused by the size of the building itself, though the T-shaped mooring devices remain in place.
Although the lower floors occupy the entire block, there are various "setbacks" in the building's design, as required by the New York City zoning law of 1916 (aimed at reducing shadows cast by tall buildings). These setbacks give the building its unique tapered silhouette.
The lobby is three stories high and contains an aluminum relief of the skyscraper (lacking the later added antenna). The north corridor contains eight illuminated panels, created by Roy Sparkia and Renée Nemorov in 1963, depicting the building as the Eighth Wonder of the World alongside the traditional seven.
A public outdoor observatory at the 86th floor offers impressive 360-degree views of the city (the first of its kind), and is a popular tourist destination. Long term forecasting of the life cycle of the structure was implemented at the design phase to ensure that the buildings future intended uses were not restricted by the requirements of future generations. This is particularly evident in the over design of the buildings electrical system.
There is also an observation deck on the 102nd floor that is open to the public. It was closed in 1999, but reopened in November of 2005, and remains open as of November 2006. It costs $14 more than it does to access the 86th floor observatory.
The tower rises to 1,250 feet (381 m) at the 102nd floor, and its full structural height (including broadcast antenna) reaches 1,453 feet and 8 9/16th inches (443 m). It was the first building to have more than 100 floors.
It remained the tallest skyscraper in the world for a record 41 years (and the world's tallest man-made structure for 23 years) until the construction of the World Trade Center, and shortly afterwards the Sears Tower. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Empire State Building regained the title of tallest building in New York City, and the 2nd tallest building in the United States (see the 50 Tallest buildings in the U.S. list).
The Empire State Building is located at 350 Fifth Avenue, ZIP Code 10118, between 33rd and 34th Streets, in Midtown Manhattan, at approximately .<ref>globalguide.org</ref> It is directly across from Weehawken Cove, on the other side of the Hudson River.
The site was first developed as the John Thomson Farm, in the late 18th century. The building stands on a block once occupied by the original Waldorf Hotel, a place frequented by The Four Hundred, the social elite of New York, in the late 19th century.
Excavation of the site for the Empire State Building began on January 22, 1930, and construction on the building itself started on March 17. Cincinnati Ohio's Carew Tower, built before the Empire State Building was conceived, served as the basis for the design of the larger Empire State Building, as evidenced by Shreve, Lamb & Harmon Associates' ability to produce the building drawings for the Empire State Building in just two weeks.
The project involved 3400 workers, mostly European immigrants, along with hundreds of Mohawk nation iron workers. 14 of the workers died during construction.<ref>1010wins.com – Empire State Building Celebrates 75th Birthday</ref>
The project was hurried to completion in order to take the title of "world's tallest building" from the nearby Chrysler Building. The Empire State Building was officially opened on May 1, 1931, when President Herbert Hoover pressed a button in Washington, D.C. that turned on the building's lights, 410 days after construction commenced.
From its opening until the 1940s much of its office space went unrented. This lack of inhabitants earned it the nickname "Empty State Building" in its early years.<ref> – NYT Travel: Empire State Building</ref>
More than thirty people have committed suicide from atop the building.<ref name="suicide1">iht.com</ref> The fence around the observatory terrace was put up in 1947 after five people tried to jump over a three-week span.<ref name="suicide2">Compass American Guides: Manhattan, 4th Edition. Reavill, Gil and Zimmerman, Jean P. 160.</ref> In 1979, Elvita Adams jumped from the 86th floor, only to be blown back onto the 85th floor and left with only a broken hip.<ref name="suicide3">hytti.uku.fi</ref> The building was also the site of suicides in 2004 and 2006.<ref name="suicide4">nydailynews.com</ref>
At 9:49 a.m. on Saturday July 28, 1945, a B-25 Mitchell bomber flying in a thick fog accidentally crashed into the north side 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 another plummeted down an elevator shaft. The fire was extinguished in 40 minutes. 14 people were killed in the accident.<ref>tms.org</ref> Despite the damage and loss of life, the building was open for business on many floors on the following Monday, July 30, 1945. The building was the first of two skyscrapers in Manhattan that have been accidentally impacted by airplanes, the other being the Belaire Apartments in the Upper East Side in 2006 (The twin towers of the World Trade Center, although hit by airplanes, were brought down by an act of terrorism).
Following the accident, elevator operator Betty Lou Oliver survived a plunge of 75 stories inside an elevator, and currently holds the Guinness World Record for the longest survived elevator fall recorded.<ref>guinnessworldrecords.com</ref>
The large broadcasting antenna rising from the top of the spire was added in 1952.
Floodlights illuminate the top of the building at night, in colors chosen to match seasonal and other events, such as Christmas and Hanukkah. After the eightieth birthday and subsequent 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 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.<ref>esbnyc.com</ref> 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 building is illuminated in tennis ball yellow during the U.S. Open tennis tournament in late August and early September. It was once even lit Scarlet red for a Rutgers University football game on November 9th, 2006, when they played the University of Louisville in what would result in the biggest win in school history.<ref>espn.com</ref>
In June 2002, during the Golden Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, New York City illuminated the Empire State Building in purple and gold (the monarchical colors of the Royal House of Windsor). New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that it was a sign of saying thank you to HM The Queen for having the National Anthem of the United States played at Buckingham Palace after September 11, 2001, as well as the support the people in Great Britain gave afterwards. It had been more than 10 years since the Empire State Building gave an honour to somebody not from the United States, the previous occasion being Nelson Mandela's visit to New York following his release from prison in 1990.
 Use by mass media
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 Condé 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.
On April 27, 2006, daredevil Jeb Corliss, who was one of the stuntmen on the Discovery Channel series Stunt Junkies, was arrested after attempting to parachute off of the 86th floor observation balcony. He had passed internal security disguising as an old person with a fat suit, and was getting ready to make his jump wearing a parachute and video equipment when building security and the NYPD intercepted him trying to scale up the iron suicide fence and arrested him. He faces several felony charges, including endangerment of his own life and others around. Subsequently Discovery Networks denied it had given Corliss any permission to attempt the stunt, noting they require their production companies to obtain permits and permissions from local authorities before any filming. The network then fired him from Stunt Junkies and gave him a lifetime ban from appearing on any other Discovery Networks project.<ref>broadcastingcable.com</ref> <ref>dsc.discovery.com</ref>
 Communications arrays
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-FM 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.
 Similar skyscrapers
The Torre Latinoamericana in Mexico City looks very similar to the Empire State Building, including setbacks and antenna, the "main" differences being size and outer paneling (the Torre Latinoamericana is glass paneled on the outside). 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 said to be the prototype for the Empire State Building. The Carew Tower in Cincinnati, is also thought to be the basis of the tower, due to its similar design also by Shreve, Lamb and Harmon Associates.
 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. 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. It also needed a constant supply of air, and was never fully inflated.
- In James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl's much-loved children's story, orphan James Henry Trotter's flying peach finally docks in New York by setting down on the Empire State Building's spire. Published in 1961, the story was made into an Oscar-nominated Tim Burton-produced film, James and the Giant Peach (film), in 1996.
- In the video game Super Monkey Ball 2, the ESB can be seen in the background of World 4 (Inside The Whale).
- In the season 2 (1988) episode The Incredible Shrinking Turtles of the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, Shredder uses an alien crystal, which fell down as an alien spaceship crashed on the Earth, to shrink down the Empire State Building into the size of a dollhouse. The people inside it are not affected by the shrinking, and have to escape to avoid being crushed as the building shrinks down.
- In 2005, a new version of King Kong was released, set in a re-creation of 1930's New York City, including a final showdown between Kong and the bi-planes atop a greatly detailed Empire State Building. (The retro-dating of this remake stands in contrast to the 1976 remake of King Kong, which was set in then-modern times and held its climactic scene on both towers of the (now-destroyed) World Trade Center instead of the Empire State Building.)
- The observation deck was the designated site for romantic rendezvous in the films Love Affair, An Affair to Remember, and Sleepless In Seattle. It was also the location of 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.
- "Terror in New York City", an episode of the Supermarionation series Thunderbirds involves an attempt in 2026 to move the Empire State Building to a new location on tracks to allow for the redevelopment of midtown Manhattan. Ground subsidence beneath the tracks results in the building's collapse.
- 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 Campaign" by Arthur C. Clarke.
- 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.
- 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, also 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 flies over the Empire State Building then perches atop a nearby skyscraper with The Empire State Building in the background, then 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 disassembled, to be reassembled halfway across the world as a corporate headquarters.
- In the 2003 Christmas-themed film Elf, Will Ferrell's father, Walter Hobbs, played by James Caan, works in a publishing company in the building called Greenway Press.
- In Star Trek: Enterprise, "Storm Front", a two-part season 4 episode, had an alternate timeline in which 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 with footage of Adolf Hitler visiting New York and the Empire State Building. The ESB is seen again in a CGI sequence near the end of the episode.
- In Futurama the setting takes place in the year 3000 in New New York City. Old New York is now underground and in ruins. The Empire State Building is never seen in the underground ruins, but it is seen on the Surface land of New New York. This implies that either the building was rebuilt or was simply taken from the ruins and was restored. The longest time the building was shown was in the episode "Anthology of Interest I", huge Bender falls on the Empire State Building which pierces through the robot while his two arms destroy two fantasy neighboring buildings, the Empire State Building comes out undamaged. He says before dying: "Oooh... who put this in here?"
- In the video games Spider-Man 2 and Ultimate Spider-Man, players can explore, swing from and climb Manhattan skyscrapers, including the Empire State Building. The Empire State Building in Spider-Man 2 is the tallest structure you can find.
- The pulp hero Doc Savage had his headquarters on the 86th floor of a 'New York City skyscraper.' It was repeatedly implied that this was the Empire State Building, though in real life, the 86th floor is the observation deck.
- In the animated series Transformers, the Empire State Building is stolen by the Decepticons and modified to resemble a building similar on the Transformers homeworld as part of Megatron's plan in City of Steel. It is eventually restored back to its former self at the end of the episode.
- In the 2002 movie The Time Machine Alexander Hartdegen a scientist and time traveler uses his time machine and travels to the year 2030.Upon arrival to the futuristic New York you could see many noticeable structures like the New York Public Library and the Empire State Building.
- In the 2004 movie "The Day After Tomorrow" New York was going through a series of devastating storms including heavy rain, snow storms, and a storm surge. When the city encountered a deep freeze many buildings including the Empire State Building were turning pale white as the cold settled to the ground shattering windows as it descended.
- In rapper Lloyd Banks' first video "On Fire", the party shown is in the Empire State Building.
- The building featured on the cover of British band Oasis's fourth studio album Standing on the Shoulder of Giants.
 Additional pictures
To view the panoromic pictures below, scroll the slidebar at the bottom of the picture with the mouse.
360° panorama of New York City from the Empire State Building (Spring 2005)