Empire State Building: An Art Deco Masterpiece

By Ingfbruno - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27823153
Griffins stand guard over the main entrance to the Empire State Building in New York City. (Photo by Ingfbruno via Wikimedia Commons)

On this date in 1930, construction began on the Empire State Building in New York.

Here are some things you may not have known about the landmark building.

The land where the Empire State Building sits was first developed as a farm in the late 1700s. Later, the block was the site of the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

The building’s plans were drawn up in just two weeks, using an earlier design for the Reynolds Building in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, as its basis. The lineage is recognized each year as the staff of the Empire State Building sends a Fathers’ Day card to the staff of the Reynolds Building.

Site preparation began on January 22, 1930, and construction began on St. Patrick’s Day. More than 3,400 workers helped complete the project. Five workers died during construction.

When it was completed, the Empire State Building was the tallest building in the world. It was a title the building would hold until 1970, when it was passed by the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.

Early on, the building had a high vacancy rate. Besides the lousy economic climate of the Great Depression, the building was also hurt by its distance from transportation hubs like Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station.

In its first year, the building took in as much money from admission to its observation deck as it did from rent.

In 1945, a B-25 bomber crashed into the north side of the building in thick fog. 14 people died in the crash. Elevator operator Betty Lou Oliver survived a 75-floor elevator fall.

The spire atop the building was intended as a mooring mast for zeppelins. However, updrafts caused by the building made it too dangerous to land airships there.

In 1951, the building sold for a then-record $51 million.

After the 2001 destruction of the World Trade Center, the Empire State Building again was the tallest building in New York. The new One World Trade Center is now the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.

Our question: How tall is One World Trade Center?

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, Children’s Day in Bangladesh and National Muay Thai Day.

It’s the birthday of carmaker Gottlieb Daimler, singer Nat King Cole, and soccer star Mia Hamm.

This week in 1962, the top song in the U.S. was “Hey, Baby” by Bruce Channel.

The No. 1 movie was “State Fair,” while the novel “Franny and Zooey” by JD Salinger topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.


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