Empire State Building

Empire State Building

The Empire State Building is one of the most iconic buildings in the United States. It is located in downtown Manhattan, New York City, New York. The skyscraper is comprised of 102 stories, and measures 380 meters from ground level to the roof. With the antenna spire, the building has a total height of 443.2 meters.

For a time, this meant that the Empire State Building was the tallest skyscraper in the world, until 1970. As of 2020, the tower is certainly not the tallest in the world, but still an impressive structural feat, being the sixth tallest freestanding structure in the Americas, and the 49th tallest in the world. Though the building intended to be the tallest, it was surpassed as the tallest man-made structure in 1954 by the Griffin Television Tower Oklahoma, and lost its tallest freestanding structure in the world title in 1967 to Ostankino Tower. 


Empire State Building

The entrance hall of the Empire State Building. Editorial credit: pisaphotography / Shutterstock.com

Construction on this building started on March 17, 1930, and lasted until April 11, 1931. It was designed by Shreve, Lamb and Harmon and has an Art Deco style to it. The design was reworked several times in the creation process in order to guarantee it would be the tallest building in the world while remaining structurally sound. It was also the first ever building to have more than 100 stories. 

A worker bolts beams during construction; the Chrysler Building can be seen in the background.Empire State Building
A worker bolts beams during construction of the Empire State Building; the Chrysler Building can be seen in the background.

The building itself cost $40,948,900 USD to build, which includes the price for the demolition of the Waldorf–Astoria Hotel which previously occupied the space. Given inflation etc. it is estimated that this cost would be equal to roughly $564,491,900 USD today. 

Waldorf Astoria, New York City.

The building’s facade is made of Indiana Limestone, which gives the building its beige hue. According to official building records, this facade is made from some 200,000 cubic feet of granite and limestone, roughly 10 million bricks, and 730 short tons of stainless steel and aluminum.

The Empire State Building had an extremely large workforce, in large part why it was able to be constructed in such a short time frame. Over 3,500 workers were employed during the peak of construction, the majority of which were immigrants from Italy or Ireland, as well as a significant population of Mohawk ironworkers from Kahnawake in Montreal. 

Current Use

Of the 102 stories in the Empire State Building, 85 are used as commercial and office space. The 86th floor holds the observatory floor, and the floors above this house mainly mechanical equipment. Some prominent companies and businesses that held offices in the building include Air China, Turkish Airlines, Linkedin, Expedia Group, and the Human Rights Foundation.

The Building In Pop Culture

Giant King Kong on Empire State Building in Hollywood Wax Museum Entertainment Center, South Carolina. Editorial credit: meunierd / Shutterstock.com

The Empire State building is an icon of American and New York city culture, and has been featured through pop culture since its construction. It was first featured in what is in many ways its most memorable movie, King Kong, in 1933, in which the infamous Kong climbs the tower and is eventually taken down, falling from the impressive height. Since then, the structure has featured in over 250 different movies and TV shows

The Empire State Building was also added to the list of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, the American Institute of Architect’s list of America’s Favourite Architecture, was designated as a New York City landmark in 1980, and declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986.

Visiting The Empire State Building

Empire State Building
Tourists viewing the New York City from the observation deck of the Empire State Building.

Though the building continues to be a functioning office space for many prominent businesses in the city, the Empire State Building is a popular tourist attraction. Each year, roughly 4 million visitors come from all over the globe to see the tower and view New York City from its observation decks. The building is open every day, 365 days a year for visitation, and averages 10,000 to 20,000 people each day. The open-air viewing observatory deck is located on the 86th floor.

A resounding symbol of New York and of America more generally, the Empire State Building is a wonder of architectural brilliance and American prosperity. Those visiting the area can’t miss this iconic attraction. 


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