Happy 80th Birthday to the Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is a 102-story landmark Art Deco skyscraper in New York City, United States, at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street. It is 1,250 ft (381 meters) tall. Its name is derived from the nickname for New York, the Empire State. It stood as the world's tallest building for more than 40 years, from its completion in 1931 until construction of the World Trade Center's North Tower was completed in 1972. Following the destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001, the Empire State Building once again became the tallest building in New York City.
The Empire State Building has been named by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. The building and its street floor interior are designated landmarks of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, and confirmed by the New York City Board of Estimate. It was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1986.
In 2007, it was ranked number one on the List of America's Favorite Architecture according to the AIA. The building is owned and managed by W&H Properties. The Empire State Building is currently the third tallest skyscraper in the United States (after the Willis Tower and Trump International Hotel and Tower, both in Chicago), and the 15th tallest in the world. It is also the fourth tallest freestanding structure in the Americas. The Empire State Building is currently undergoing a $550 million renovation, with $120 million utilized in an effort to transform the building into a more energy efficient and eco-friendly structure.
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 superintendent.
Excavation of the site began on January 21, 1930, and construction on the building itself started symbolically on March 17—St. Patrick's Day—per 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.
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. Coincidentally, the first use of tower lights atop the Empire State Building, the following year, was for the purpose of signaling the victory of Franklin D. Roosevelt over Hoover in the presidential election of November 1932.
In popular 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 but falls to his death after being attacked by airplanes. In 1983, for the 50th anniversary of the film, a huge 90 foot tall inflatable King Kong was placed on the building mast above the observation deck as a skyscraper sculpture by artist Robert Keith Vicino.
In 2005, a remake of King Kong was released, set in 1930s New York City, including a final showdown between Kong and biplanes 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 the focal point for the aliens' attack on New York City. The building is destroyed in an extraordinary explosion by the aliens' primary weapon, which proceeds to destroy the entire city.
Many other movies that feature the Empire State Building are listed on the building's own website.
In the film Knowing a massive solar flare incinerates the Earth. In the movie's destruction sequence of New York City, the Empire State Building can be seen crumbling as it is engulfed by the wall of flames.
In the film When Worlds Collide, the Empire State Building is depicted as one of the few remaining buildings standing after New York City has flooded due to the passing of another planet.
In the film The Day After Tomorrow, the Empire State Building can be seen freezing over during a superstorm that creates another ice age.
In the film Aftershock: Earthquake in New York, the building fell and was destroyed by an earthquake hitting New York City.
In the film Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, 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, just like in the book series.
The building is chosen as Ground Zero for the target of a nuclear bomb that is dropped on New York in the film Fail-Safe.
In the 2003 film Elf, Buddy the Elf's father works for a children's book publishing company located in the Empire State Building.
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.
In the Thunderbirds episode Terror In New York City, the Empire State Building crashes to the ground when an attempt to move it fails.
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 side—only to hit her rival.
The building is seen crumbling in the future without humans due to disintegration in the TV series Life After People.
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 that 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 Saudi Arabia and rebuilt there. The mooring mast is rebuilt in New York, while the remainder of the building is lost at sea.
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. In the last book of the series, the building plays a major role as the main characters' HQ. The building lights up in blue at the end of the book.
In his "biography", Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life, the late Philip Jose Farmer theorizes that the skyscraper in which Doc Savage lived and where he met with his comrades, had his laboratories, etc., was the Empire State Building. Since the 86th Floor (mentioned in the Savage stories as his floor) was the Observatory, one may presume that Doc "actually" lived on another floor.
Other A 7.6 feet (2.3 m) scale model built from 12,000 LEGO bricks over 250 hours is featured along with other notable buildings in the LEGO Architecture: Towering Ambition exhibition at the National Building Museum in Washington , D.C.