The Empire State Building – New York City

categories: USA Travel

The Empire State Building was finished during the Depression Years, 1931 to be exact and for the next four decades was the tallest building in the World. While that distinction has gone, it is probably recognized by more people than any other building when they are asked about tall buildings.

It is a skyscraper with 102 floors on 5th and West 34th Street, reaching 381 meters, and a further 60 meters to the tip of the spire. Its style is Art Deco and the building is mentioned whenever architecture crops up. The American Society of Civil Engineers has proclaimed it as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World and in 1986 it was designated a National Historic Landmark.

It took only 410 days to complete from the day of commencement, St. Patrick’s Day, March 1930. A total of 3400 workers were needed, including many Mohawk Indians who reputedly have no fear of heights. There were five fatalities during those 410 days and on completion, the lights were turned on by the press of a button by President Herbert Hoover from his Office in the White House in Washington. Ironically a year later the tower lights at the top were used for the first time to announce Roosevelt’s victory over Hoover in the 1932 Presidential Election.

It cost $40 m to build which equates to $500m in today’s terms; a serious amount of money particularly in the 1930s.

Its early years were difficult; this was the Depression and office space was not in great demand, particularly for a building many blocks from the transport terminals at Grand Central and Penn Street. The majority of the revenue was made by a paying public wanting to go up to the viewing platform. Indeed the Building took twenty years before it was profitable.

Well over 100m people have visited the observation decks over the years but another thing to do while visiting the Empire State Building is to go into the simulator on the second floor where the visitor can experience the Sky Ride through New York, a twenty-five minute experience where the simulator, piloted by Kevin Bacon takes its “passengers” under the Rivers, between the skyscrapers; a unique experience.

The Empire State Building has been used in many films, for television and literature. Arguably one of its first appearances remains one of its most famous; the 1933 film King Kong. Others include Independence Day, Sleepless in Seattle and the television program Doctor Who.

The incidents over the years that have occurred are too numerous to mention but include a plane crash, an attempted suicide (where the woman was blown back in and merely suffered a broken hip), a few successful suicides, and a shooting.

Every year since 1978 there has been a race up to the observation deck, the 86th floor. The current record is 9 minutes 33 seconds in 2003 by Paul Crake, a professional cyclist. By all means, go and see the Empire State Building but use the elevator.

This article was written by Steven, a travel writer, and blogger for, providers of over 350 holiday apartments in NYC.

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Steven McKenzie

by Steven McKenzie

Avid traveler who wants to see the world.....little by little. Love to read fellow travel bloggers and be inspired by their stories, photos and wisdom.

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