Empire State Building | Height, Construction, History, & Facts (2022)

Top Questions

What was the Empire State Building built for?

The Empire State Building was officially built to host corporate business offices. Less officially, the Empire State Building was also built to be the tallest building in the world. The competition to beat at the time of its construction—it was completed in 1931—included the New York City skyscrapers Bank of Manhattan Building and Chrysler Building.

Where is the Empire State Building located?

(Video) Incredible Facts and Footage of The Construction of The Empire State Building

The Empire State Building is located in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, New York, on Fifth Avenue at 34th Street. Prior to its construction, the site was also home to the original location of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on Fifth Avenue.

How did the Empire State Building get its name?

The Empire State Building derives its name from a nickname for New York state. While the precise origin of the nickname “Empire State” is unknown, one of its oldest documented sources is a letter written by George Washington in 1785 in which he expresses admiration for New York’s strength during the American Revolution and deems the state “the Seat of the Empire.”

Why do the Empire State Building lights change?

The colours of the Empire State Building lighting system change to reflect major holidays and celebrations throughout the year. This tradition has been in place since 1976, when the skyscraper’s first lighting system was installed. In 2012 a new LED lighting system was installed that allowed the building to exhibit millions of colours.

(Video) The UnXplained: SECRET HISTORY of the Empire State Building (Season 2) | History

Summary

Empire State Building, steel-framed skyscraper rising 102 stories that was completed in New York City in 1931 and was the tallest building in the world until 1971. The Empire State Building is located in Midtown Manhattan, on Fifth Avenue at 34th Street. It remains one of the most distinctive and famous buildings in the United States and is one of the best examples of Modernist Art Deco design.

(Video) Deconstructing History: Empire State Building | History

At the time of its construction, there was fierce competition to win the title of tallest building in the world. The Chrysler Building claimed the title in 1929, and the Empire State Building seized it in 1931, its height being 1,250 feet (381 metres) courtesy of its iconic spire, which was originally intended to serve as a mooring station for airships. A 222-foot (68-metre) antenna was added in 1950, increasing the building’s total height to 1,472 feet (449 metres), but the height was reduced to 1,454 feet (443 metres) in 1985 when the antenna was replaced. (By that time One World Trade Center, officially opened in 1972, had become the tallest building in the world.)

Britannica Quiz Empire State Building Quiz You don’t have to be from New York to get yourself into an “Empire State of Mind”—take this quiz and exercise your knowledge of the history-making Empire State Building! How familiar are you with the iconic skyscraper and its cultural legacy?

The primary duo behind the construction of the Empire State Building was John J. Raskob and Al Smith. Raskob, a self-made business mogul and onetime chairman of the General Motors Corporation finance committee, together with Smith, who was a former Democratic governor of New York, seemed like a strange pair on paper. In all likelihood, their lasting friendship was built on mutual recognition of their similar origin stories as children born to struggling immigrant Roman Catholic families. Raskob and Smith could appreciate the tactful hustling each had to do before vaulting into the public eye of America. Prior to setting forth plans for the Empire State Building in 1929, Smith enlisted Raskob to serve as chairman for the Democratic National Committee and as his own campaign manager for his second run at the presidency, in the 1928 U.S. presidential election. His defeat, at the hands of Republican candidate Herbert Hoover, affirmed that the country was reluctant to risk the economic prosperity of the 1920s by electing a Democrat; it also indicated that voters were unwilling to elect a Roman Catholic who would potentially undermine majority Protestant values.

Following the loss of the 1928 election and his governorship in order to run for the presidency, Smith was left without a job. It is impossible to know whether to credit Raskob or Smith for the initial idea to build the skyscraper on the former site of the original Waldorf Astoria Hotel, but the two came to the conclusion that it would make for a simultaneously sensible and sensational joint project at the midpoint of their lives. Raskob would be a critical financier also tasked with recruiting other investors, and Smith was an affable public-facing, familiar figure to head the project. With the foundation of the Empire State Building Corporation and his new role as its president, Smith announced the plans for the record-breaking building on August 29, 1929. Its architects, Shreve, Lamb & Harmon Associates, designed a building that would surpass 100 stories.

Construction began 200 days later on March 17, 1930. Between the time that Smith made the announcement in August and construction began in March, however, the stock market crashed, in October of 1929, and the Great Depression began to take hold. Nevertheless, construction continued and proved an important source of jobs in New York City. The Empire State Building formally opened on May 1, 1931. Construction of the immense skyscraper took less time than anyone could have anticipated, concluding after only 410 days. Despite the publicity surrounding the Empire State Building, its opening was still heavily affected by the coinciding Great Depression; much of the office space remained unrented, to such an extent that the building was called “The Empty State Building.” It took almost 20 years for the building to become profitable.

In spite of its slow beginnings and eventual dethronement from the world record it was built to capture, the Empire State Building has become an enduring icon of New York City to the world and New Yorkers themselves. Observatories are located on the 86th and 102nd floors, and a small viewing platform is found on what some refer to as the 103rd floor. The observatories receive millions of visitors each year, and, beginning in 1994, an annual contest offered couples an opportunity to win an exclusive wedding ceremony on Valentine’s Day at the 86th-floor observatory.

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(Video) Empire State Building Facts - New York City

The Empire State Building’s notable appearances in some of the 20th century’s most romantic films may have served as the inspiration for the contest. First in Love Affair (1939) and then its remake An Affair to Remember (1957), the films’ star-crossed lovers memorably make plans to meet again at the top of the Empire State Building after a long time apart. The hit romantic comedy Sleepless in Seattle (1993) makes direct reference to An Affair to Remember and has Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks’s characters finally meet atop the Empire State Building observatory deck. Beyond its romantic connotations, the Empire State Building has made guest appearances in numerous popular cultural mediums—beginning with perhaps its first and most famous one, in the film King Kong, which was released in 1933, soon after the building’s opening. An exhibit at the Empire State Building pays homage to the pervasive presence of the skyscraper in popular culture by displaying a montage of hundreds of its features in films, video games, comics, and more.

The Empire State Building has also been recognized for its green architecture initiatives. In 2020 the skyscraper completed a retrofitting lasting more than 10 years that significantly reduced its energy usage, reduced emissions by about 40 percent, and increased efficiency.

Imaan Yousuf The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica

FAQs

What are 2 Facts about the Empire State building? ›

At its top floor, the Empire State Building stands 1,250 feet (380 meters) tall. Counting the spire and antenna, the building clocks in at a mighty 1,454 feet (443 meters). It's currently the 4th tallest building in New York City, the 6th tallest in the United States, and the 43rd tallest tower in the world.

How did they build the Empire State building so fast? ›

After demolishing the Waldorf-Astoria hotel—the plot's previous occupant—contractors Starrett Brothers and Eken used an assembly line process to erect the new skyscraper in a brisk 410 days.

What is on the 80th floor of the Empire State building? ›

Room on the walls a mural a reproduction of the cityscape drawn from memory by artist Stephen

How long did the construction of the Empire State building? ›

From the start of construction to modern day fame, the story of the Empire State Building is one you'll never forget. Intended to be the world's first 100+ story building, construction of the Empire State Building began on March 17, 1930. Construction was completed in a record-breaking 1 year and 45 days.

Does the Empire State building have a 13th floor? ›

With that said, some of NYC's most famous buildings do have 13th floors. The Empire State Building has one. So does the Flatiron, as did the Twin Towers. One World Trade Center includes it, as do all Hilton International hotels.

What is under the Empire State building? ›

A fascinating secret is that below the basement level of the Empire State Building are wind tunnels.! “They were meant to and still recycle plain air into the lower level,” explains Siobhan. Sometimes water gets into the wind tunnels but Siobhan says, they aren't from what people sometimes think it's from….

How many bricks does it take to build the Empire State building? ›

The exterior of the Empire State Building is composed of 200,000 cubic feet of Indiana limestone and granite, 10 million bricks and 730 tons of aluminum and stainless steel.

How long will Empire State Building last? ›

The earliest steel skyscrapers, like the Empire State Building, which date from the 1930s are least likely to remain standing in 7,000 years because they are constructed almost exclusively of steel, meaning they have exceptional tensile strength but are quite rigid and inflexible.

Who owns the land under the Empire State building? ›

In 1994, the land under the building, which at the time was encumbered by a long term lease, was acquired for a reported $42 million by Japanese billionaire Hideki Yokoi, and later transferred to the Trump Empire State Partners, a joint venture of Donald J. Trump and a member of the Yokoi family.

What is on the 103rd floor of the Empire State Building? ›

There's a Decommissioned 103rd Floor Observation Deck

There's a “celebrity balcony” on this 103rd floor that forms a ring around the mooring mast, on top of which the spire begins.

What floor is King Kong on? ›

This exhibit highlights some of the most-famous visitors (athletes, musicians, actors) to the attraction. Their images and signed memorabilia adorn the walls. Guests can stop to admire these as they head to the elevators that will take them to their next stop: NYC: Above & Beyond on the 80th Floor.

How many floors has Empire State Building? ›

The Empire State Building has 102 floors, with 1,860 steps from street level to the 102nd floor. 103rd floor. 1,050 feet (320 meters) and 1,250 feet (381 meters), respectively. 2.7 million square feet of office space, making it one of the largest office buildings in the world.

How deep is the foundation of the Empire State building? ›

The entire steel framework that supports the Empire State Building, in accordance with the construction criteria of the time, is covered with concrete and bricks. The total weight of the building is estimated to be 365,000 tons, resting on foundations laid to a depth of 55 feet 8 inches and made up of 210 pillars.

How much did it cost to build Empire State Building? ›

It pays homage to the building's construction in 1930 and 1931 with recreations of how workers built the tower by hand. The Empire State Building went up in a little more than a year at a cost of $41 million.

Can you live in the Empire State building? ›

The Empire State Building does not have any apartments or residences, although it does have a suite of rooms.

Why do building skip the 13th floor? ›

Early tall-building designers, fearing a fire on the 13th floor, or fearing tenants' superstitions about the rumor, decided to omit having a 13th floor listed on their elevator numbering. This practice became commonplace, and eventually found its way into American mainstream culture and building design.

Why is there no room 113 in hotel? ›

This fear is a kind of phobia. This fear of number 13 is called Triskaidekaphobia. That's why there is neither a room number 13 nor there is no 13th floor in hotels especially in western countries.

Why there is no 4th floor in China? ›

But the number four is considered unlucky because it sounds a lot like the word for “death,” and as a result Chinese buildings often lack a fourth floor (just as American buildings sometimes skip the 13th). Likewise, Chinese drivers avoid license plates ending in four.

How much sway is at the top of the Empire State building? ›

Even on a calm day, the tower generally sways about 6 inches (15 centimeters) in both directions. For comparison, the Empire State Building is supposed to move about an inch and change even in the face of 100 mile-per-hour (160 kilometer-per-hour) winds.

How do they get water to the top of skyscrapers? ›

The standard practice in high-rise buildings is to pump water up to a reservoir on the roof. The water then descends through the building piping using gravitational force, creating high pressure that must be reduced for consumer use.

How does water get to the top of the Empire State building? ›

Unlike most tall New York City buildings, the Empire State Building's water tanks are inside the building rather than on the roof. Seventy miles of pipe deliver water to the entire building and serve the fire-protection standpipe system.

How sturdy is the Empire State building? ›

The Empire State Building is composed of 60,000 tons of steel, 200,000 cubic feet of Indiana limestone and granite, 10 million bricks, and 730 tons of aluminum and stainless steel. for larger image. Steel columns and beams form a stable 3-D grid throughout the entire structure.

What is the top floor of the Empire State building? ›

102 floors above New York City, the Top Deck observatory takes your Empire State experience higher, with breathtaking views in every direction.

Who supplied the steel for the Empire State building? ›

A historical look at how Homestead Steel Works was tapped to helped build some of the most significant works of 20th-century architecture. If you're building the world's largest skyscraper, you'd better source the best materials.

What is the oldest skyscraper in the world? ›

1883: Temple Court Building, New York City, New York, USA

Built between 1881 and 1883, Temple Court Building (aka 5 Beekman Street) is the oldest skyscraper in the world still standing today.

Does Empire State Building sway? ›

The Empire State Building does not sway, it gives. With a wind of 110 miles an hour, the Building gives 1.48 inches. Movement off center is never greater than one quarter inch, thus measurable movement is only one half inch, one quarter inch on either side.

What is the life of a concrete building? ›

Ideally, the average lifespan of any concrete structure is 75-100 years. But, it is considered that the average life of an apartment is 50-60 years while of a house it is 40 years.

Does China own Empire State Building? ›

Chinese companies and entrepreneurs have quietly invested $1 billion in New York City over the last year. In the process, they have snagged parts of major city icons, like the Empire State Building and the Tappan Zee bridge.

What would happen if you dropped a basketball off the Empire State building? ›

For example, if you dropped a Super Ball from the top of the Empire State Building, it would only bounce seven stories high because wind friction would lower the ball's terminal velocity. It wouldn't be going very fast when it hit the pavement.

When was the last time the Empire State building was sold? ›

May 29, 2013 -- The Empire State Building's shareholders today approved the sale of the New York City landmark to the public in an IPO valued at $4.2 billion, according to a Security and Exchange Commission filing. The decision ended a dispute between two groups of owners of the iconic 102-story tower.

Does the Empire State building have a secret floor? ›

The Empire State Building is known to have 102 floors. They are open to the public. But, there is another floor above it. The 103rd floor is a restricted space.

Is it worth going to the 102nd floor of the Empire State building? ›

If you have time on your hand, and money isn't an issue, our quick answer is, “Yes, Empire State Building's 102nd-floor observatory is totally worth it!” If you can't manage cold, the upper observatory makes sense yet again.

Is there a room at the top of the Empire State building? ›

Named after the fitting nickname for New York, this symbol of the city's stature in the world has been a cornerstone of the city skyline since it's completion in 1931. The Sky Room gives you a breathtaking view of this New York City landmark, while surrounding you in a modern and stylish venue.

Why did King Kong climb the building? ›

An Energizer battery commercial has King Kong climbing the Empire State Building in pursuit of the Energizer Bunny. Just as he's about to grab the Bunny, a Fay Wray Expy slams a window on his foot, causing him to fall.

Is there a King Kong in the Empire State Building? ›

The enormous movie monster became famous for the scene in the 1933 King Kong film where he climbed up the site of New York City's iconic structure, and now you can witness his arrival firsthand if you visit the building itself.

What floor is the observatory on in the Empire State Building? ›

Our main deck observatory on the 86th floor has been the setting for dozens of movie and television scenes, as well as tens of millions of unforgettable moments. The open-air observation deck wraps around the building's spire, providing 360-degree views of New York, Brooklyn, Queens, and beyond.

How fast is the lift in the Empire State building? ›

The elevators were designed to move at 1,200 feet per minute (366 m/min).

What was there before the Empire State building? ›

The original location of the renowned Waldorf Astoria Hotel on Fifth Avenue is sold to Bethlehem Engineering Corporation for an estimated $20 million. In just a few years the building is demolished, becoming the site of the world's most ambitious building project – the Empire State Building.

Why is the Empire State building purple? ›

As countries around the world mourn this great loss, New York City officials have decided to honor the late Queen the best way they know how: by lighting the Empire State Building, an iconic local landmark, in purple and sparkle in silver in celebration of the life and legacy of Her Majesty.

What are 3 facts about the Empire State building? ›

It is also 45th-tallest building in the world. The Empire State Building has 103 floors. The building weighs more than 360 thousand tons. During its construction, 60 thousand tons of steel, 5663 m³ of limestone and granite, 740 tons of stainless steel and aluminum, 10 million bricks were used.

How long will Empire State Building last? ›

The earliest steel skyscrapers, like the Empire State Building, which date from the 1930s are least likely to remain standing in 7,000 years because they are constructed almost exclusively of steel, meaning they have exceptional tensile strength but are quite rigid and inflexible.

How many floors is Empire State Building? ›

The Empire State Building has 102 floors, with 1,860 steps from street level to the 102nd floor. 103rd floor. 1,050 feet (320 meters) and 1,250 feet (381 meters), respectively. 2.7 million square feet of office space, making it one of the largest office buildings in the world.

How big is the Empire State building? ›

The total height of the building is 1,454 feet (exactly 1,454 feet, 8 9/166 inches) or 443.2 meters from the base to the top of the building's lightning rod/antenna. The building weighs 365,000 tons and its volume is 37 million cubic feet.

Can you live in Empire State Building? ›

The Empire State Building does not have any apartments or residences, although it does have a suite of rooms.

What makes the Empire State Building special? ›

A testament to the power of American industry, the Empire State was the first building in the world to have more than 100 floors, and its steel frame was considered a modern marvel. The building's Art Deco design has inspired visitors from around the world.

Why was the Empire State Building empty? ›

In fact, another little-known or remembered fact is that this building was actually nicknamed the “Empty State Building” because so few tenants were paying rent or using the offices and other forms of retail space.

What is the oldest skyscraper in the world? ›

1883: Temple Court Building, New York City, New York, USA

Built between 1881 and 1883, Temple Court Building (aka 5 Beekman Street) is the oldest skyscraper in the world still standing today.

How do high rises stay up? ›

A structure's resistance to gravity loads prevents it from collapsing under its weight and that of its occupants. This category of loads includes dead and live loads. Dead loads are the weight of the structure and the building's built-in components.

How is the Empire State building strong and stable? ›

The Empire State Building is composed of 60,000 tons of steel, 200,000 cubic feet of Indiana limestone and granite, 10 million bricks, and 730 tons of aluminum and stainless steel. for larger image. Steel columns and beams form a stable 3-D grid throughout the entire structure.

What is on the secret 103rd floor of the Empire State building? ›

The 86th floor and 102nd floor observation decks of the Empire State Building are accessible but there's a 103rd floor observation deck that's still closed off. There's a “celebrity balcony” on this 103rd floor that forms a ring around the mooring mast, on top of which the spire begins.

What is on the top floor of the Empire State building? ›

It's a view you have to see to believe. 102 floors above New York City, the Top Deck observatory takes your Empire State experience higher, with breathtaking views in every direction.

How deep is the foundation of the Empire State building? ›

The entire steel framework that supports the Empire State Building, in accordance with the construction criteria of the time, is covered with concrete and bricks. The total weight of the building is estimated to be 365,000 tons, resting on foundations laid to a depth of 55 feet 8 inches and made up of 210 pillars.

How many toilets are in the Empire State building? ›

Interiors were equipped with 6,700 radiators, 2,500 toilets and sinks, and 51 miles of plumbing pipe, and were finished with 10,000 tons of plaster and 328,000 square feet of marble. For more on the Empire State, check the Museum's virtual exhibit BUILDING THE EMPIRE STATE, and the book by the same name.

How many bathrooms are there in the Empire State building? ›

There are 2,500 toilets in the Empire State Building in New York City.

How much did it cost to build the Empire State building? ›

It pays homage to the building's construction in 1930 and 1931 with recreations of how workers built the tower by hand. The Empire State Building went up in a little more than a year at a cost of $41 million.

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