The Empire State Building is a 102-storey skyscraper in Manhattan, New York City. It was built in the Art Deco style, and stands at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street. It took its name from the nickname of New York, the Empire State. The Empire State Building was completed in 1931, and for the next forty years, it was the tallest building in the world until the World Trade Center North Tower surpassed it on 23 December 1970.
The site where the Empire State Building is now standing was the John Thomson Farm, back in the late 18th century. During the 19th century, the site was occupied by the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and was the watering hole of The Four Hundred, the social elite of New York.
The Empire State Building was designed by Gregory Johnson and his architectural firm Shreve, Lamb and Harmon. The design and construction was all done in great speed. The building drawings were completed in just two weeks. It relied on an draft of the R.J. Reynolds Tower in Winston-Salem, North Carolina as the basis. The Empire State Building was actually designed from the top down. The construction company was chaired by Alfred E. Smith, a former Governor of New York, and the project financed by John J Raskob.
Excavation work began on 22 January, 1930 while actual construction was officiated by Alfred E Smith, as Governor of the Empire State, on 17 March, St Patrick's Day. 3,400 workers were involved in the construction. Most of them were immigrants from Europe, along with Native Americans ethnic Mohawks who were the iron workers. Five workers died in construction-related accidents.
The construction of the Empire State Building was part of an race in New York City for the title of the world's tallest building. When work on the Empire State Building began, two other skyscrapers were also under construction - 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler Building. All three were competing to be the tallest. Both buildings became the tallest each, but held the title for less than one year before the Empire State Building surpassed them upon its completion. It took just 410 days to construct.
Empire State Building was officially on 1 March, 1931, by then President of the United States, Herbert Hoover, in the most spectacular manner: Hoover turned on the lights of the building by a push of a button from Washington, D.C. In New York City, Governor Smith's grandchildren cut the ribbon.
On completion, the Empire State Building stands at 381 metres (1,250 feet) at the 102nd floor. Counting the 203ft spire, its full height reaches 443 metres (1,453 feet). The building has 85 stories of commercial and office space (totalling 2,158,000 sq. ft.) It has an indoor and an outdoor observation deck on the 86th floor. The remaining 16 stories represent the art deco tower, capped by a 102nd floor observatory, atop the tower is the 203ft pinnacle on which, broadcasting equipment of all kinds covers much of, with the lightning rod at the very top being the highest point on the building. The Empire State Building is the first building to have more than 100 floors. It also has over 100 bathrooms, 1,860 steps, and 6,500 windows. Even in 2007, the Empire State Building is still the largest single office complex in the United States after the Pentagon. 20,000 people works in it. But it was not so at the beginning.
The opening of the Empire State Building coincided with the start of the Great Depression in the United States. As a result, much of its office space went unrented for years. On its first year of operation, its observation deck made as much money as the total rental of that year. It made critics call it the "Empty State Building". It would not be until 1950 that the Empire State Building started generating a profit. In 1951, it was sold to Roger L. Stevens and his business partners for $51 million, the highest price ever paid for a single piece of real estate in the United States up to that time.
The spire design of the Empire State Building was originally intended to be a mooring mast for airships. There was originally a landing platform with a walkway for airship passengers. However, the idea proved impractical and dangerous after a few unsuccessful attempts, because of the strong wind caused by the size of the building itself. The T-shaped mooring devices remain in place. A large broadcast antenna was added to the top of the spire in 1952.
The Empire State Building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986.
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