Empire State Building Celebrates 80 Amazing Years
In March of 1930, construction began on what would soon become one of the most famous skyscrapers in the world, New York City’s Empire State Building. Made from over 720 tons of steel and aluminum, ten million bricks, and 200,000 cubic feet of granite and limestone, it took over 3000 workers only 410 days to complete.
The massive crew clocked in 7 million man hours, working through Sundays and holidays. Amazingly, this huge construction job was done in the midst of the Great Depression. The cost for all of this was estimated at $41 million dollars.
Completed on May 1st, 1931, the Empire State Building held the record for being the tallest office building in the entire world for quite some time. It climbs 1250 feet into the sky and it was the first building to have more than 100 stories, for a total of 102. A lightning rod extends the height to 1454 feet.
The Empire State Building provides a spectacular view of the city and beyond. On a clear day, visibility is 80 miles. Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania can all be seen from the 86th and 102nd floor Observatories. It houses major companies from all over the world and it is a hub for major television and radio stations in New York City. It’s estimated that four million people visit her each year.
On Sunday, she will turn an impressive 80 years old.
Over the years, she has become a cultural icon and screen legend, having been featured in over 250 films. In 1933 the mighty King Kong climbed to the very top with Fay Wray in his clutches. She has also been the backdrop for romance (An Affair to Remember, Sleepless in Seattle) and the focal point of much destruction. She has been blown up by aliens (Independence Day), laid waste by solar flare (Knowing), and flash frozen (The Day After Tomorrow). She has even served as a towering tombstone over New York City’s watery grave (When Worlds Collide).
In 1964 flood lights were installed along the top floors to light up the night sky. Over the years these lights have changed colors to reflect current events. In 2004 the entire building was dark in honor of the death of actress Fay Wray. After 9/11 the flood lights lit the top floors in red, white and blue for several months before returning to normal. Sports games and holidays also feature unique colored lights that can be seen from miles away. In January 2011, the Empire State Building became New York’s biggest user of 100% renewable energy.
Just as amazing as the building itself, runners have been racing to the top since 1978 in an event called “The Empire State Run Up.” This race is open to athletes by invitation only, unless you are participating for a charity, which guarantees an entry. Athletes are chosen by background and athletic abilities. The race spans 86 floors, a mere 1576 feet, something that most people wouldn’t be able to do on a coffee break. The record was set in 2003, with an amazing time of 9 minutes and 33 seconds. The race is just under ¼ of a mile.
Born in a time of uncertainty, the Empire State Building is far more than just a cool New York City landmark and tourist attraction. She is a symbol of the true American spirit, the embodiment of the hopes and dreams of a nation, and a reminder of what we can accomplish when we focus on the task at hand.