Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Empire State Building

One of the most known and recognizable buildings in the world, the Empire State Building, is probably the most famous building in the Big Apple. Featuring in countless films, it is of course known for its iconic role in the classic King Kong. Although not being currently the tallest building in the world, it still receives more than 2 million visitors a year. It was considered as the eighth wonder of the world during its construction. The building has 73 elevators and is 381 meters high. It was constructed in just 410 days. 

The Empire State Building is built on a full city block, on 5th Avenue. Construction commenced on March 17, 1930 and the building rose at an average of about four and a half floors a week, faster than any other skyscraper at the first half of the 20th century. The building was officially inaugurated on May 1 1931, in the presence of governor Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was designed by William Frederick Lamb, coming up with a fairly simple design, defined by requirements such as the budget, time limit and New York City's 1916 zoning law. 

What makes the design great and unique is that for all its simplicity and sheer bulk it has a perfect composition and massing, giving the building a certain grandeur. On the top of the Empire State Building an enormous spire can easily be identified. It was to be used as an anchor so that Zeppelins would be able to embark and disembark passengers. However this idea was not deemed practical , especially after the Hindenburg disaster in 1937. 

The Empire State was one of the last skyscrapers to be completed before the Great Depression in NYC.  As a consequence it held its title of the world's tallest building for more than 40 years. However the Great Depression caused a collapse in the demand for office space.

The owners had such a difficult time leasing office space that the building became known as the 'Empty State Building', according to an article from the New York Times. Nevertheless in the 1950s it became the most profitable building in New York City. Every visitor can go up to the 86th floor where the observatory is located. It is the perfect spot to have a 360 degrees view of the city, seeing the financial district downtown, the midtown skyscrapers, most of the bridges connecting Manhattan to the mainland, and the rivers surrounding the island of Manhattan. Nonetheless the best view of the Empire State Building can be found from the Rockefeller Centre. 

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