8 April 2013 - EMPIRE STATE BUILDING - New York City



- New York City -

G'day guys,

Today I feature I building that has always enchanted me - the Empire State Building in New York City, opened on my birthday in 1931.

The Empire State Building is a skyscraper in New York City, at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street and its name derives from the nickname of the state of New York. It was the world's tallest building for over forty years since its completion in 1931 until 1972, when they completed the construction of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. After the destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001, the Empire State Building again became the tallest building in New York City and State of New York.  

The current site of the Empire State Building was first developed on the John Thomson Farm in the late eighteenth century. At that time, a stream ran across the site, leading to Sunfish Pond, located a block away. The block was occupied by the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in the late nineteenth century and was frequented by "The Four", the social elite of New York.

The Empire State Building was designed by Gregory Johnson and his architectural firm Shreve, Lamb and Harmon, who made drawings of the building in just two weeks, on the basis of its earlier designs, such as the Reynolds Building in Winston-Salem, SC North and Carew Tower Cincinnati, Ohio. The building was designed from top to bottom. The main builders were Starrett Brothers and Eken, and the project was funded 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. 

The excavation site was launched on January 22, 1930, and construction of the building itself started symbolically on March 17 (Saint Patrick's Day). The project involved 3400 workers, mostly immigrants from Europe, along with hundreds of Mohawk workers (experts in iron), including many from the Kahnawake reserve near Montreal. 

According to official accounts, five workers died during construction and the grandchildren of Governor Smith cut the ribbon on May 1, 1931. 

The construction was part of an intense competition in New York for the title of the world's tallest building. The building was officially opened on May 1, 1931. In particular, the President of the United States at the time (Herbert Hoover) turned the lights on with the push of a button in Washington, DC.

The building's opening coincided with the Great Depression in the United States, and as a result much of its office space was unused. In its first year of operation, the observation deck took approximately $2 million. The lack of tenants in New York led people to deride the building as the "Empty State Building." 

The building was not profitable until 1950. The famous 1951 sale of the Empire State Building to Roger L. Stevens and his business partners was promoted by the prominent Manhattan real estate company Charles F. Noyes and Company, for a record $ 51 million. At the time, that was the highest price ever paid for a single structure in real estate history.

At 9:40 a.m. on Saturday, July 28, 1945, a B-25 Mitchell bomber, piloted the thick fog by Lieutenant Colonel William F. Smith Jr. crashed on the north side of the Empire State Building, between floors 79 and 80. Part of the engine of the aircraft flew through the side opposite the impact and continued until the next block, where it landed on the roof of a nearby building, starting a fire that destroyed an attic. The other side of the engine and the rest of the plane plummeted under the shaft of an elevator. The fire was extinguished in 40 minutes and fourteen people died in the incident. Elevator operator Betty Lou Oliver survived a fall of 75 floors in an elevator, which still stands as the Guinness World Record for whoever survived the longest fall in an elevator. Despite the damage and loss of life, the building was open for business on many floors the following Monday.

The Empire State Building rises to 1,250 feet (381 meters) to floor 102. Its pinnacle height reaches 1453 feet 8 inches (443 meters). The building has 85 channels of communications and office space is 2,158,000 square feet (200,500 square meters). It has a deck and outdoor observation deck on the 86th floor.  

The Empire State Building was the first building with more than 100 floors. It has 6500 windows and 73 elevators, and there are 1860 steps from street level to floor 102. It has a total area of 2,768,591 square feet (257,211 square meters), the base of the Empire State is about 8094 square meters. 

Since 2007, approximately 21,000 employees work in the building every day, making the Empire State as the second largest office complex in America, after the Pentagon. The building was completed in one year and 45 days. Originally the building had 64 elevators that are in a central core; today, the Empire State Building has 73 elevators in total, including elevator service. It takes less than one minute by elevator to reach the 86th floor, which houses an observation deck. The building has 70 miles (113 kilometers) of pipe, 2,500,000 feet (760,000 meters) of electrical cable, and about 9,000 taps. Heated by low pressure steam, despite its height, the building only requires between 2 and 3 pounds per square inch (14 and 21 kPa) of steam pressure for heating. The exterior of the building was constructed with panels of limestone from Indiana.

The construction of the Empire State Building cost 

 Unlike most existing skyscrapers, the Empire State has an Art Deco design, typical of architecture of pre-World War II in New York. 

The lobby is three stories high. The north corridor contains eight illuminated panels, created by Roy Sparkia and Renée Nemorov in 1963, which represents the building as the Eighth Wonder of the World, alongside the traditional seven.

A long-term forecasting of the life cycle of the structure used in the design phase ensures that the construction may be used for future needs. This is particularly evident in the over-design of the building's electrical system.

In 1964, lights were added to illuminate the top of the building at night, in colors chosen to match seasonal and other events, such as St. Patrick's Day and Christmas. After the eightieth birthday and the subsequent death of Frank Sinatra, for example, the building was bathed in blue light to represent the singer's nickname "Ol 'Blue Eyes." After the death of actress Fay Wray (King Kong) in late 2004, the building was in complete darkness for 15 minutes. 

Clancy's comment: Being scared of heights did not stop me from visiting the top of this amazing structure many years ago. Besides taking some amazing shots of New York on the clearest day in 80 years, I felt the building sway. It was a nerve-racking visit, but worth it. How lucky was I to be on top with a camera on the clearest day in decades?

I'm ...


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