The Empire State Building Celebrates Almost 100 Years


| LAST UPDATE 05/01/2023

By Veronica Anderson
Empire State Building
Alexander Spatari via Getty Images

On this day, 92 years ago, the Empire State Building joined the New York City skyline, and we just can't get enough of her. The giant skyscraper was built just 14 months after construction during one of the most difficult historical periods, The Great Depression, and was named the tallest building in the whole world for an outstanding 40 years.

Standing 1,250 feet tall, with an additional 204 feet if you include the antenna, the 102-story tower in the heart of New York City was lit for the first time on May 1, 1931. Now considered as the Grand Old Lady of the New York City skyline, the Empire State Building took just 410 days from foundation to completion-a true architectural miracle. Standing on the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, between 34th and 33rd Streets, 3,400 workers attended to creating the majestic building, constructing up to 4 1/2 floors per week! According to John Tauranac, the author of The Empire State Building: The Making of a Landmark, the building was built with 10 million bricks, 6,400 windows, 37 million cubic feet of space, and 200,000 cubic feet of Indiana limestone.

The Empire State Building 1931
Bettman / Contributor via Getty Images
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Alfred E. Smith, the former New York governor, headed Empire State Inc., the company that headed the construction of the magnificent building. Smith lost his bid for the presidency to Herbert Hoover in 1928 and, in the midst of his political loss, was motivated by General Motors executive John Jakob Raskob to build the world's tallest skyscraper. Just as the stock market crash was about to take over the Western world in 1929, kicking off The Great Depression, Smith had agreed to begin construction." The building was boldly planned, and although the exigencies of the stock market crash halted other projects, work on the Empire State went forward at a record pace," Tauranac recalled.

Following its iconic opening, putting smiles on those people's faces who needed it the most, the Empire State Building was named the world's tallest skyscraper until 1971 when the World Trade Center Towers were built. However, there are now seven buildings in NYC alone that are taller. Regardless, "she is a global symbol of risks taken and dreams fulfilled," according to the buildings Realty Trust chairman and current owner, Anthony Malkin. "She lives in the hearts and imaginations of all peoples cultures and ages," he added, saying the building is "as cutting edge today as the day she opened." Yes, she is.

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