The Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is an Architectural Wonder and one of the most prominent attractions in the world. It is situated in New York City. The building was constructed during the Great Depression period and it illuminates the whole city of New York. It is located at the Fifth and thirty fourth Avenues. The Empire State building maintained the record of world’s largest skyscraper for forty years after its construction. The architectural marvel is one of New York’s most popular tourist attractions and has appeared in over ninety movies. It was a competition between Walter Chrysler and John Raskob to build the world’s largest building. Mr. Raskob started the task in 1929 along with some investors. They formed a corporation headed by Alfred Smith.
The excavation began on 22nd January 1930 and the masonry was completed on May 1, 1931 (The history of the Empire State Building). It was a record completion time of 1 year and 45 days. The building is the testimony of the hard work of three thousand workers who worked on all days including Sundays and holidays (Wonders of the world). The total cost to construct the Empire state building was $ 40,948,000 which includes the cost of the land. Since the building was constructed during the depression period, the construction cost was low.
The building stands 1454 feet tall. The 86th floor observatory is 1050 feet above ground and overlooks the Chrysler building, Harlem River and other buildings in New York. The Empire State Building has a total of 102 floors (The history of the Empire State Building). To construct the building the old Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on the Fifth Avenue was demolished. The architects of Empire State Building are Shreve and Harmon Associates. They were asked to design the tallest building in the world and the architects decided to use steel for the construction.
Eken Incorporated and Starrett Brothers were experts in this method of construction. During the construction 64 elevators were used for to transport people up and down the structure. The laborers were called sky boys. The overall height of the building after construction was 1472 feet including the antenna at the top. The design of the building actually had the antenna’s to dock airships, but later the idea was dropped since the designers realized that people would not enjoy it at a height of 1000 feet above the ground (The empire state building).
There are 1860 steps in the building from ground level to the 102 floor. It has got 6500 windows. It took 7,000,000 man hours to construct the empire state building. 57,000 tons of steel was used to construct the steel skeleton and 17 million feet of telephone wire is approximately servicing the building ( Rosenberg).
With the invention of elevators and central heating systems during the 20th century many tall buildings were constructed in America. A ten storied building was constructed in Chicago in 1885. By 1929, New York City had 188 buildings that were twenty one storey or above. This includes the Woolworth Building with 55 floors. As there were many immigrants flowing into the city there was a requirement for many more buildings for office spaces and apartments.
During that period there was a competition among multi millionaires to build skyscrapers. Thus John J Raskob, the vice President of General Motors and Alfred E Smith, a former New York Governor planned to construct the tallest building in the world. New York City’s nickname was Empire state and thus they decided to name the proposed building ‘The Empire State Building (Peterson).
There were rumors that hundreds of people died during the construction but as per official records only five people were killed during the construction of such a giant structure. The logic of the plan was very simple. The space in the centre was arranged very efficiently. It comprises of vertical circulation, mail chutes, toilets, shafts and corridors. Initially, the building was planned to be the tallest at 80 floors but as the Chryslers went up they had to go up again to be the tallest building. Then they decided to include a dirigible mooring mast which would make the building 1250 feet tall. The construction of the tallest building was a real battle. They also wanted to complete the construction faster, to make faster income during the Depression period. Every minute of the day was important and thus was not wasted. Several large cranes were used to raise the steel girders. Only thirty storeys were raised at a time and it was really fascinating for the crowds to gaze upwards at the steel girders. A railway car was used for the easy movement of the construction materials. It was important to save time, money and man power; therefore many new methods were adopted in the construction.
Electricians and plumbers had started working inside, as the work outside was going on. In a building with 102 floors, 15000 people were expected to visit the building and to avoid the rush in elevators and the wastage of time, the architects planned to construct seven banks of elevators, with each servicing a certain number of floors. Fifty eight passenger elevators and eight service elevators were installed in the Empire state Building by the Otis Elevator Company. The speed of the elevators was 1200 feet per minute. The construction of the skyscraper was on time and under budget as the labor cost came down during the Great Depression.
The ribbon was cut by Mayor Jimmy Walker and President Herbert Hoover lit up the building ( Rosenberg). On July 28, 1945 a small plane crashed into the 79 floor on the 39th street side of the building which caused the death of 3 people in the plane and 11 persons working in the building. Since the building opened in 1931, 110 million people visited the observatories and the visitors include famous personalities like Queen Elizabeth, Fidel Castro, the rock band KISS, Ronald McDonald, Lassie and Tom cruise. There is a show of colored lights at the building during holidays and other events. When Franklin D Roosevelt was elected President in 1932 a search light beacon shined at the top of the Empire State building. The top 30 floors shined with floodlights in 1964 and became an attraction for the World Fair.
The building shines green on St. Patrick’s Day, Pink and white for breast cancer awareness and lavender for the anniversary of Stonewall. The building appears in many movies and the most memorable one is that the building was the plaything of King Kong in the movie ‘King Kong’ which was released in 1933. Love Affair, Sleepless in Seattle are other famous movies were this building plays an important role. The Empire State Run up has been an annual tradition since 1978. There is a race every year from the ground to the 86th floor which has 1576 stairs. The building has also been witness to many weddings. It was a thrill for couples to get married 1000 feet above ground on Valentines Day. They would join the Empire State Building Wedding Club so that they could visit the Observatories every year on Valentines Day (Skillings).
Empire State Building is a landmark for the New York City and a place which no discerning traveler can miss. The Observatory on the 86th and 102nd floors offers a panoramic view of the Manhattan. An estimated 110 million tourists has visited the place since it was opened in 1931 and 3.5 million throng each year. The observatory is open 24 hours a day, all days in a year and houses restaurants, bar, coffee shops and bank counters. The surrounding areas always bustle with a host of activities including simulated rides, movie theatres, exhibition center, restaurants and a thriving nightlife. The building is a great place for the family and kids too with specialized games and activities for them. For businesses, it is one of the most recognized addresses in America. Pre-built offices and floor spaces are available on lease for corporates. Over the years Empire State Building has been identified as the spirit and identity of New York City and symbolizes the unequaled ingenuity of the American (Welcome to the Empire State Building).
Peterson, Sheryl. Empire State Building. Minnesota :The Creative Company, 2006
Rosenberg, Jennifer. Empire State Building Trivia and Cool Facts. Available:
http://history1900s.about.com/od/1930s/a/empirefacts.htm. Accessed on December 1, 2008
Skillings, Pamela. The Empire State Building – Trivia and Fun Facts About New York’s Tallest Skyscraper. Available: http://manhattan.about.com/od/historyandlandmarks/a/empirestate.htm. Accessed on December 1, 2008
The empire state building Available:
http://www.technologystudent.com/culture1/empire1.htm. Accessed on December 1, 2008
The history of the Empire State Building Available:
http://www.essortment.com/all/historyempires_rymo.htm. Accessed on December 1, 2008
Welcome to the Empire State Building. Available: http://www.esbnyc.com/index2.cfm
Wonders of the world Available: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/buildingbig/wonder/structure/empire_state.html. Accessed on December 1, 2008