“A thing of beauty”. That’s what a group of Lithuanian tourists labeled the Empire State Building. When asked if their statement was related to their tourism fascination with New York City or the building itself, they said it was related to the architecture and the harmony at which the whole building comes together as a work of art. Although, they said the same thing about the Chrysler Building.
What do these two buildings have in common? They were both under construction in 1930. They were both in competition to be the world’s tallest, with the Empire State beating the Chrysler by one year. They are both built in art deco style, which is why these tourists gave them the ‘beauty’ label.
Indeed, with its art deco design along with it attractive symmetric set backs, it certainly can be called a thing of beauty!
But what is the Empire State Building all about?
John Raskob, founder of General Motors sort to build a building to rise above all other skyscrapers in New York. Raskob assembled a group of well known aristocrats, headed by Alfred E. Smith, New York’s governor. Their task was to develop a plan to construct a skyscraper that was taller than all others.
Architects Shreve, Lamb & Harmon Associates were hired to construct this 60,000 ton building at a cost of $40,948,000. Construction began on March 17, 1930 on 34th Street and 5th Avenue, the former site of the original Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
The Empire State Building kept this title of the tallest in the world (see picture left – Empire Nears Completion – 1931) and also maintains the title of the only skyscraper to surpass 100 stories for over 30 years, until the original World Trade Center buildings were constructed at 110 stories.
The antenna mast wasn’t added until 1956, changing the building’s height from 1,250 feet to 1,472 feel. The antenna was and is used for radio, TV and cellular broadcasting.
Some interesting facts:
On May 1st, 1931, President Herbert Hoover pressed the button that turned the building’s exterior lights on for the first time.
4.5 floors were added to the building each week. There are 6,514 windows, 1,872 steps and 73 elevators. On July 28, 1945, a B-25 Mitchell bomber crashed into the building due to dense fog. It hit the north side, between the 78th and 80th floors. The fire was quickly extinguished in 40 minutes; however,14 people were killed.
The Empire State Building is an world icon and stands in fame with the Eiffel Tower and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The building also has attracted many movies and TV shows. The most famous is the 1931 Sci-Fi film King Kong and the movie was remade in 2005, with special effects that allowed the movie to remain in the 1931 time period.