Cocktail Recipes, Spirits, and Local Bars

The Empire State Building's Empire Room Expands Menu and Hours

The Empire State Building's Empire Room Expands Menu and Hours

The ground-floor eatery sets its sights as high as the building it resides in

The ladies (and gents) who lunch in midtown have a snazzy new option in The Empire Room’s expanded bar menu, featuring old-school classics like Reubens, chopped salads, and chicken parmigiana in panini form. Owner Mark Grossich says of the additions, "We continue to strive to revive the spirit of the golden age as a timeless hospitality destination and look forward to accommodating new and existing customers with a memorable lunch experience in one of the most iconic spaces in the world."

Looking at the 3,500-square-foot space, you’d never guess the Art Deco interior used to house a post office, and though people may not be able to send and receive packages anymore, the folks over at Hospitality Holdings (which also owns the tony Campbell Apartment) are ensuring that plenty of commerce still takes place with their power lunch offerings.

Andy Warhol’s Empire (1964), Reproduction, Repetition, and the Destruction of the Aura

Andy Warhol, one of the most significant and influential figures of 20 th century art, is best know as a pop artist and leader of several avant-garde movements of the 1960s. Although mostly associated with painting, Warhol was also a prolific photographer and filmmaker. One of his most recognizable films, Empire (1964), consists of an eight-hour, black and white, silent and uninterrupted sequence of the Empire State Building. According to The Museum of Modern Art, this single stationary shot of the Empire State Building was filmed from 8:06 p.m. to 2:42 a.m. on July 25-26, 1964, and the projection speed was of “sixteen frames per second, slower than its shooting speed of twenty-four frames per second.”[1] This feature makes the progression from light to darkness almost indiscernible. Since its conception, Empire has remained as one of the key works in film and art history. To analyze the significance of this film, a reading based on Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Its Reproducibility” will be conducted this analysis will not only place it as an anti-film, but also as a work that is about the destruction of the aura.

Mechanical reproduction due to technological advancements is the fundamental concern in Benjamin’s essay. The author claims that a work’s aura is lacking when a technological reproduction takes place. For Benjamin, the aura is related to the spatial and temporal characteristics, or to the “here and now,” of a work of art, and it is undermined when a reproduction takes place.[2] This is mainly due to the fact that technological reproductions “can place the copy of the original in situations which the original itself cannot attain,” and allow the original to “meet the recipient halfway.” [3] In other words, it displaces the artwork, and by doing so, the here and now is devalued. This decay of the aura, Benjamin argues, is ultimately caused by the masses’ necessity to be closer to things and destabilizes the concept of authenticity.[4] When analyzing Empire within Benjamin’s argument and parameters, one can conclude that Warhol’s film seems aware of the tension between the aura and the object, and that it essentially pushes it to the limit.

Warhol chose to shoot New York’s most iconic building in an interrupted manner for approximately seven hours this feat further emphasizes the loss of the aura. The projection speed of sixteen frames per second, slower than the shooting speed, makes the displacement all the more apparent because it is extended and manipulated in a way that the spectator is no longer able to grasp a concept of temporality. Because of these unique features—running time, shooting time, and projection speed—, Warhol’s film seems to be about the gradual decay of the aura. Nevertheless, one could most definitely assume that Benjamin would perceive these characteristics as somewhat positive. When speaking about cinema’s ability to manipulate time and space, Benjamin notes that, “With the close-up, space expands with slow motion, movement is extended. And just as enlargement not merely clarifies what we see indistinctly ‘in any case,’ but brings to light entirely new structures of matter…” which in turn, reveal the “optical unconscious.”[5] In other words, these manipulations reveal hidden qualities of both vision and movement that are unperceivable to the human eye.

In addition to shooting/projection speed and shooting length, Empire completely destroys the aura because of its Dadaist quality. Benjamin states that the Dadaists “attached much less importance to the commercial usefulness of their artworks than to the uselessness of those works as objects of contemplative immersion” and that doing so created a “ruthless annihilation of the aura.”[6] Empire is such an example because its point is not commercial viability nor is it the spectator’s enjoyment. If one thing is certain about Dadaist works, is that they sought to shock and/or outrage the public.[7] Warhol’s film is most certainly aligned with this philosophy, as it continues to be discussed as an example of anarchic/anti cinema.

Although Empire can be thought of as an anti-film, it is nonetheless a work that triggers introspection. Benjamin discusses two forms of audience participation when engaging with a work of art: distraction and concentration, and explains how these two modes of participation form an antithesis. On one hand, a person who is concentrated in a work of art is “absorbed by it,” while the distracted person or masses “absorb the work of art into themselves.”[8] To explain these concepts, Benjamin presents architecture as the perfect artform in which the prevalent mode of participation is distraction. He says, “the reception of architecture . . . spontaneously takes the form of casual noticing, rather than attentive observation.” [9] Empire challenges the dialectic presented by Benjamin not only is it about architecture, but due to its extensive runtime, it forces the audience to be both absorbed by the work and absorb the work into themselves. To illustrate this idea, American art critic Blake Gopkin describes his experience of watching Empire in 2014 and pointedly states, “If great works of art can be thought of as machines for thinking, triggering ideas by the dozen, then “Empire” is a Rolls-Royce: It keeps us thinking about what film is and does, what great buildings are all about and even how and why we look at things.”[10] Warhol achieves this not only by presenting an extremely long take of the building, but also due to repetition.

Warhol’s use of repetition is in fact something that has been discussed as one his most important and effective techniques. Branden Joseph in “The Play of Repetition” discusses Empire and asserts,

From the onset of total darkness, the depicted image becomes nearly inert, the passing of recorded time evident primarily in the blinking light atop the adjacent Metropolitan Life Building, its flashing retarded (like all of Warhol’s silent films) as the twenty-four frames-per-second (fps) of shooting is slowed to sixteen fps upon projection. From this moment on, however, the viewer’s attention divides between the nearly motionless depicted image and the fleeting passage of film grain that push processing and the flashes and flares that occurred in developing have rendered extremely visible.[11]

Indeed, the materiality of film is also one of the focal concerns in Empire, as it forces the spectator to observe the physical characteristics of celluloid like grain and some “imperfections” caused by the chemical process. The effect, Joseph explains, is of a “temporal and material splitting” which is achieved through an “implicit juxtaposition of a stable or recurrent visual constant…”[12] In other words, through repetition—or a recurrent visual constant—Warhol induces both concentration and distraction, and is the reason why the audience watching can be both absorbed by and into the film.

Overall, Andy Warhol’s Empire destroys what Benjamin calls the aura of an object not simply because film as a medium is based on reproduction, but also due to characteristics such as shooting time, projection speed, and “uninterruption” of the take. A reading of Empire based on Benjamin’s theory also suggests that the film is not only aware of the tension between the “here and now” of an artwork or object, but that it actually pushes it to the limit. Another feature of Empire that completely annihilates the aura is its Dadaist quality, which is why it has been discussed in art circles as an example of an anti-film (much like how Dada works were considered anti-art). Although Empire aligns with many of Benjamin’s concepts, it nonetheless challenges the binary of audience participation. Not only due to its subject matter, architecture, but also as a result of the long runtime, projection and shooting speed, and above all: reproduction. The latter characteristic of Warhol’s Empire highlights the physical characteristics of the celluloid and gives rise to a temporal and material split. This causes both distraction and concentration from the part of the audience. Jonas Mekas, film pioneer and Village Voice critic, once said of the artist: “Andy Warhol is the most revolutionary of all filmmakers working today.” Indeed, Warhol’s legacy and significance is still very much relevant in the 21 st century, which is why he continues to be a subject of scholarship and analysis.

[2] Benjamin, Walter. “The Work of Art in the Age of Its Reproducibility.” Accessed March 25, 2018, 103.

The Empire State Building's Empire Room Expands Menu and Hours - Recipes

The average adult breathes in 11,500 liters of air per day. Let’s make sure it’s clean and healthy.

No more inefficient filtration necessary. No more harmful UV rays. No more dangerous chemicals. Just clean, healthier air backed by peer-reviewed research, monitoring and testing.

AtmosAir is installed in a highly diverse portfolio, composed of projects covering the entire construction spectrum.

We bring a niche expertise to a wide range of work, from traditional to newly emerging markets.

Events DC, Washington’s official convention and sports authority, announced a partnership with AtmosAir Solutions to install bi-polar ionization technology at Entertainment & Sports Arena to provide an improved indoor environment for all guests and staff.

While media filtration and increased outside ventilation may be time honored methods to improve indoor air quality, they are often times very costly or impossible to implement in school classroom environments. Bi-polar ion technology such as AtmosAir has been in use in school systems for over 20 years for it’s ability to improve indoor air quality while not increasing operating costs and requiring costly HVAC re-engineering.

The Empire State Building deployed the AtmosAir system to focus on pathogen concerns, but also as part of a broader verification of all health and safety protocols. All of the Empire State Realty Trust’s buildings, including its flagship Art Deco masterpiece, are now WELL Health-Safety certified.

Disclaimer: The air purification technology provided by Clean Air Group is intended to improve indoor air quality. It is not intended as a replacement for reasonable precautions aimed at preventing the transmission of contaminants, airborne or otherwise. Customers and all persons having access to the serviced premises should comply with all applicable public health laws and guidelines issued by federal, state and local governments and health authorities such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Clean Air Group does not assert that its products will protect people from viruses, bacteria or other contaminants, airborne or otherwise, expressly excludes liability for loss or damage arising from any such claims, and does not assume liability for the consequences arising out of the application, use or misuse of its products.

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Diversified delivers interactive exhibit technology that brings to life the final floor of a four-year, $165 million renovation project for the World’s Most Famous Building

KENILWORTH, NJ—Diversified, a leading global technology solutions provider, in partnership with Thinc, the team leader at the new Empire State Building Observatory (ESBO), proudly announces the completion of the landmark’s reimagined Observatory Experience. With the opening of the redesigned 80 th floor, the final floor in a four-year undertaking, guests are now immersed in a journey of interactive exhibit technology from the time they step through the entrance to the moment they walk out onto the 86 th and 102 nd floor observatories.

Setting out to deliver on a plan to improve the guest experience as they venture to the observatories, Thinc engaged Diversified as its technology integration partner from the beginning. Since that time, the partnership has resulted in a reimagined Entrance and Grand Lobby, interactive exhibit technology across the entire Second Floor and now, the 80 th floor exhibits. The newest exhibits, equipped with modern experiential technology, introduce educational building topics such as the world-famous tower lights, the unmatched views and the visitor experience itself.

“Such a momentous occasion reminds me of the days when our team would climb the Empire State Building antenna to replace or repair RF equipment that the building is famous for,” commented Fred D’Alessandro, Diversified founder and CEO. “We have come a long way since then, both Diversified and the ESBO, but I am proud to be able to say that our team continues to dedicate themselves to the job in the same way, engineering innovative solutions that create experiences for visitors from around the world—memories they will have for years to come.”

A true icon with deep roots in American culture, this renovation has proven that the 88-year-old building will always stand the test of time and will forever be a global symbol of innovation and the American dream.

Deep-fried Breakfast

Ready to eat an entire deep-fried breakfast to get your morning up and running? Jim Hasbrouck of Fried Specialties has created another one of his tasty specialties exclusively for The Great New York State Fair. The massive breakfast specialty includes bacon, sausage, ham, hash browns and eggs all doused in French toast and pancake batter and deep fried to perfection. Served with a large heaping of maple syrup, the new dish is sure to cure anyone’s over-the-top breakfast cravings.

If breakfast isn’t your thing, Fried Specialties has you covered. This year, they’re debuting thick-cut bacon battered with crushed Doritos, deep fried and served with chipotle sauce and cheddar cheese. As a grand finale, Jim also will be offering deep-fried, chocolate-covered crickets and grasshoppers. Yes, you read that right!

Find it at the Fair: Fried Specialties, Restaurant Row

State Fair Bloody Mary

The State Fair Bloody Mary isn’t your average cocktail. We’ve suped-up the familiar recipe into a 20-ounce cocktail with your choice of classic or spicy jalapeno. Plus, it’s served with a skewer of celery, olive, lime, grilled Gianelli sausage, Buffalo chicken, grilled shrimp, New York State cheddar cheese and chicken spiedies. It’s practically a meal!

Find it at the Fair: Empire Room restaurant

The Bacon Bomb Sandwich

What has sausage, bacon, cheese and bread all in one? The Bacon Bomb, of course! This specialty sandwich will have your mouth watering with Italian sausage (wrapped in smoked bacon), bacon crumbles, cheddar cheese and BBQ sauce, all served up on a tasty steak roll. More bacon, please!

Find it at the Fair: The Bacon Bomb

The Big Kahuna Donut Burger

The Big Kahuna Donut Burger is “two meals in one!” The gut-busting creation is a quarter-pound burger set between a grilled glazed doughnut, bacon, the cheese of your choice, lettuce, tomato and onion. Big Kahuna’s burger is the perfect marriage of a coveted breakfast delight and an all-American meal. It’ll also cost you about 1,500 calories—so lace up those sneakers and take a few laps around the Fair!

Find it at the Fair: Big Kahuna’s

Recess Affogato Special Donut Espresso Utopia

The Affogato Special Donut Espresso Utopia is as good as it sounds. To create the perfect pick-me-up, a Geddes Bakery doughnut is topped with ice cream, bacon, maple syrup and a shot of espresso. And if you’re craving coffee without the delicious doughnut, Recess Coffee is not only the Fair's only coffee provider, but also its only full-service coffee shop.

Find it at the Fair: Recess Coffee

Maple Bacon Espresso Milkshake

Recess is a two timer on our list, thanks to its luxurious Maple Bacon Espresso Milkshake. Need a pick-me-up after your gut-bombing meal? They’ve got you covered. Cool off in the summer heat, energize for your next go-around on the Ferris wheel and satiate your thirst for bacon while you’re at it!

Find it at the Fair: Recess Coffee

Kangaroo Spiedies

The spiedie, a dish local to Binghamton, normally includes marinated cubes of meat on a roll. Usually it’s made from chicken, lamb or beef, but Carr’s Cove gives the spiedie a new twist with this State Fair creation—kangaroo loin! Where else will you find such an exotic take on one of Central New York’s favorite BBQ treats?

Find it at the Fair: Carr’s Cove, Horticulture Building

The Milky Bun

Brand new this year, The Milky Bun is going to be the talk of the Fairgrounds. The dish begins like any good food should—with a doughnut. The doughnut is then cut in half so you can choose your favorite ice cream flavor—along with the best toppings—inside. Finally, the doughnut goes into a warmer that heats the outside without sacrificing the ice cream. Finally, top your new favorite food with more toppings or doughnut glaze!

Find it at the Fair: The Milky Bun, Dairy Products building

Hot Beef Sundae

It may seem like an ice cream sundae, but don’t let it fool you! The New York Beef Council’s famous hot beef sundae is savory, not sweet. Get your fill with delicious mashed potatoes, thin-sliced roast beef, cheddar cheese, sour cream and a cherry (tomato) on top!

Find it at the Fair: Shake it Up, Dairy Products Building

Mexican Corn

The Fresh Roasted Corn stands at the New York State fair have added a new item to their menu with a new and improved twist on a Fair favorite—roasted corn. Mexican Street Corn, a traditional Mexican street dish, transformed roasted corn with a mixture of mayonnaise, queso cotija, spicy seasoning and a hint of lime. The only way to improve an already delicious food is to slather it with this savory mixture! The result is sweet, salty and spicy. It’s the taste of summer south of the border.

Find it at the Fair: Fresh Roasted Corn

Bonus: Vegan Food

If Kangaroo spiedies aren’t your thing, sigh no more—the Fair has plenty of vegan options. Vegan cheeseburgers, cheese steaks, Buffalo wings, milkshakes, cupcakes and more. Take your pick—vegans and vegetarians don’t have limited options at The Great New York State Fair. It’s a vegan feast!

Journey To The Top Of The Empire State Building

Anthony Vargas March 30, 2020, 4:28 pm March 31, 2020

It’s easy to make the case that the Empire State Building (ESB) is the world’s most famous building. Since it opened in 1931, the ESB has captured the American imagination and been a fixture in popular culture, having been featured in more than 250 movies and TV shows—from the iconic climax of the 1933 film “King Kong” (and its many remakes), to the nostalgiafest “Ready Player One,” to more lighthearted, schlocky fare like “Sharknado 2.” It is one of New York NY’s most famous attractions, with more than four million annual visitors. And its world-famous lights have commemorated countless holidays and world events, both tragic and triumphant.

The ESB recently underwent a largescale reimagining intended to transform the journey from its ground floor up to its world-famous observation decks into an interactive multimedia experience befitting such an iconic destination. AV technology solutions provider Diversified was contracted to bring the Empire State Realty Trust’s vision to life, which included the design and installation of several interactive museum-like exhibits celebrating the ESB’s history and its cultural significance.

The Diversified team for the project was led by Project Manager Travis Heitchew, Lead Engineer Aaron Hickman and Site Supervisor Aubrey Dover. Diversified worked in conjunction with general contractor Skanska, exhibit design firms Thinc Designs and kubik maltbie, and content creator Squint/Opera.

According to Diversified, using AV technology to curate a complete visitor experience from the entrance to the observation decks on the 86th and 102nd floors was one of the main goals of the project. “The preexisting experience was really just a queue you were just waiting to get to the top. And, as exciting as the top is, and as incredible the view up there is, they wanted to make it a journey [to get there],” Hickman said. “So, in adding the museum exhibits that highlight aspects of the building and aspects of the culture, the hope was to be able to create a user experience that was a journey from the bottom to the top.”

In “The Site in the 1920s,” visitors can look through replica sitesurvey transits to see prerecorded recreations of New York street life in the 1920s. Each transit has a seven-inch monitor inside of it, which plays back the content. The exhibit also features a generative soundscape that mimics the ambient noise of a city street.


From the moment visitors enter the ESB on the ground floor, the wayfinding system is there to guide them through the entire experience. “Wayfinding was something that was very much on the forefront of [the client’s] mind because in a typical museum setting, guiding the visitor to where they need to go can be a challenge,” Hickman said. “And there was a really strong emphasis on working with Squint/Opera to create both seamless technology and content playback that would show people where to go, without having to station docents throughout the space and put up temporary signs. So, we placed a combination of both static and dynamic signage on the walls and overhead, and then made sure that the content that was driving those signs was accessible.”

The “Infinity Shaft” uses practical effects and AV technology to create a 4D experience. Air compressors and transducers in the floor mimic the gust of wind and the rumble of the elevator cabs as they whiz by on LED displays.

There are wayfinding displays peppered throughout the exhibit spaces, from the ground floor all the way up to the observation decks. Hickman described the wayfinding system in depth. “Embedded in the floor, there are lines that subtly show you where to go, and people actually intuitively follow them. The lighting overhead follows those same lines. So, it’s like it’s illuminating your path up,” he explained. “The overhead digital wayfinding and the wall wayfinding are in line with those paths to show you where to go. Overhead wayfinding is Planar TVH 1.6 LED, and wall wayfinding is Planar UR7551-MX-ERO LED. Both are enclosed in a custom enclosure that [mimics] the Art Deco style of the building and has arrows that point where to go. So, not only is it a dynamic piece of signage that has LED video showing information, but the physical housing of it is also telling you where to go.”

The content-delivery system for the wayfinding displays was built with redundancy in mind. “What’s driving those displays is a custom content-management system [CMS] that was created by Squint/Opera, and it’s being played out by a combination of BrightSign XD1033 static media players and HP Z2 workstations,” Hickman said. “The wall wayfinding, which are larger 4K canvases, have more dynamic content that’s sort of data driven, so they’re pulling data feeds in and modifying that content in real time. Those are driven by HP workstations that are running the custom application. And that’s all being played out through Extron video matrices individual to each exhibit.”

Hickman explained, “[That allowed us] to provide a high level of redundancy and robustness and modularity in the systems, so that if one display or one type of exhibit went down, it didn’t take out the whole system. And then each system has a primary and backup player. For instance, if you have two overhead digital wayfinders, that’s two primary players, and then you’d have a shared backup. If the primary element fails, it automatically fails over to the backup player. You have a seamless transition that is virtually invisible to the end user, [which is important] because nobody wants a black screen. That just looks wrong.”

Entrance & Security

In the entrance area, the visitors encounter their first exhibit: a celebration of the various celebrities and public figures who have participated in lighting ceremonies at the ESB. The ESB is world renowned for its illuminated peak, and the lights are frequently changed to different colors to mark holidays and major events. The “Lighting Ceremony” exhibit features a 4ࡪ, 4800mm x 2700mm Planar TWA 1.2 videowall that displays images of past lighting ceremonies and the famous figures who have participated in them, as well as a Samsung PM32F display that shows information about the people depicted in the exhibit and the events they were on hand to commemorate. Dynamic content for this exhibit is driven by an HP Z2 workstation.

As visitors make their way through the entrance area and up the stairs to the second-floor gallery, they pass a two-story scale model of the ESB designed by famed model-maker Richard Tenguerian. They then enter the security line and ticket kiosk area, which features a number of 86-inch LG Ultra-Stretch digital signage displays that depict pictograms of items visitors are prohibited from bringing into the building, as well as other security information. (Because the ESB is an international attraction, pictograms were used as often as possible on the informational displays, although some information still had to be translated into an exhaustive list of languages.) Once visitors get through security, they are greeted by a three-projector blend that displays messages welcoming them into the exhibit area. “It’s three Panasonic PTRZ970 laser projectors, and they’re each WUXGA,” Hickman described. “It’s being driven by a Dataton WATCHOUT system.”

In the “World’s Most Famous Building” gallery, visitors can watch a short documentary about the ESB’s many appearances in film, television, comic books, video games and other media. A four-projector blend throws the projection-mapped video onto a multi-faceted, concave surface.

Journey Through Time

One of the largest features of the revamped ESB is the new second-floor gallery, which comprises 10,000 square feet of multimedia exhibits. The first, known as “The Site in the 1920s,” uses a variety of video technologies to depict the ESB building site during construction. It features a large projection on the left-hand wall that shows the ESB being built in time-lapse fashion the imagery is provided by a Panasonic PT-RZ970 equipped with a short-throw lens that is fed via BrightSign XD1033 media player.

On the right-hand side, nine replica sitesurvey transits are angled toward different parts of a wall mural depicting the corner of 6 th and 32 nd as it looked in the 1920s. “These are replica site-survey transits that kubik maltbie created that have a monocular type of viewer,” Hickman described. “You can walk up to each of them and look through it. And embedded inside is an Ikan S7H seven-inch LCD that has some content on it. Each one of these nine viewers is positioned aiming at the wall, and the wall has a semi-panoramic scene of the corner of 6 th and 32 nd . The mural on the wall is static, but when you look through each one of these viewers, that image on the wall comes to life. Each of the viewers has an animation of the static scene that is taking place directly in line with that viewer.” The animations offer visitors a glimpse of 1920s New York street life.

“And what’s really neat about that exhibit is, overhead, there are four SoundTube RS600i speakers, and we’ve created a generative soundscape,” Hickman continued. “The content creators recorded a number of cityscape clips that sound just like the city. I believe there are eight clips that [are] shuffled and rotated around those four speakers, generatively. We have a couple of random number generators that are being driven by the QSC Q-SYS Ecosystem, and we loaded those clips into the Q-SYS Audio Core. We created four audio zones, and each one of those four zones gets anything between one and eight of those clips at any given time. So, it creates this completely generative soundscape by rotating the clips around, and bouncing them back and forth, and adding them and subtracting them between the different channels. If you stand in one spot, it doesn’t sound like a loop. It sounds like the city.”

The “King Kong” exhibit combines AVL technology with animatronics to bring “the Eighth Wonder of the World” to life. The windows are actually displays, and the audio and lighting are programmed to react to Kong’s movements.

The next exhibit, known as “Construction,” was inspired by Lewis Hine’s iconic photographs of the workers at the ESB construction site. It essentially uses AV technology to recreate what it would have been like standing on one of the higher floors of the ESB as it was being built.

“This is a 360-degree immersive space that looks and feels like a construction site that would have existed on the higher floors of the building,” Hickman described. “All four walls are Planar CLI 2.6 LED with Stewart Filmscreen’s FideLEDy Vision diffusion product in front of them, because 2.6mm is a little bit of a coarse pitch [and] we wanted to kind of smooth that out. You’re surrounded by floor-to-ceiling LED walls. And then, in the ceiling, there’s more LED that’s partially occluded by crossing I-beams and crossing wooden planks. So, you get this feeling that you’re standing on one of the high-up floors in this construction zone. The content is imagery and scenes of what it would look like if you were standing on this floor of a construction site, with actors that were filmed and then superimposed on an animated set. So, it really feels like you’re in that space.” He added, “There are some benches made out of reclaimed timber that look like makeshift piles of wood and materials. And then there are life-size bronze figures throughout that area, replicas of individuals in poses like putting rivets into the steel I-beams or eating their lunch, those kinds of things. So, people can go in there and take pictures with the bronze statues.”

The “Construction” exhibit also has its own soundscape, although it is not generative. Eight Tannoy CMS503DCLP speakers play out an audio track that complements the animations on the videowalls wrapping around the room. “It’s an eight-channel system, and it was recorded with an eight-channel rig,” Hickman said. “It was recorded in a space similar to the size of the exhibit, with similar spacing of the speakers. So, it does have specialization in the sense that when it was mastered, sounds were placed in certain areas.”

Just beyond “Construction” is the “Opening Day” exhibit, which features another Planar CLI 2.6 LED wall with Stewart Filmscreen diffusion depicting an old-timey newspaper boy heralding the opening of the ESB in 1931. “That is also an actor that was filmed and then superimposed on a digital set. He’s standing on the corner saying [things like], ‘Come see the Empire State Building! Come see the observatory!’ It’s like it would have been on the day that it opened,” Hickman explained.

In “NYC: Above and Beyond,” tourists can plan the rest of their trip to New York on seven interactive kiosks. The kiosks can be slid along tracks in the floor and ceiling.

The Inner Workings

The next exhibit, “Modern Marvel,” shows how the ESB has evolved to meet the sustainability needs of the modern day. Five Planar EP5014K displays are mounted above five MultiTaction MT556XNB displays in the left-hand wall the Planar screens depict facts about the ESB’s sustainability efforts in a variety of languages, and the MultiTaction screens offer interactive effects that help visitors engage more deeply with the information.

Just beyond “Modern Marvel” is the “Otis Elevators” exhibit, which is a tribute to the ubiquitous elevator company’s contributions to the ESB throughout the years, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at the elevators that service the 102-story building.

“Otis Elevators were the ones who built the elevators in the building originally, and they still maintain them to this day,” Hickman said. “There is a replica of one of the original elevator cabs that you can walk into, and it has a 98-inch Planar UR9851- ERO display embedded in it. So, you walk in, and it plays an animation that shows you going up through the floors. In addition, kubik maltbie restored some of the original governors and flywheels that controlled and activated those elevators. [The exhibit is] triggered by a proximity sensor, and, when that proximity sensor triggers, the media plays back on the screen then, above this fake elevator cab, these governor wheels and pulleys start moving. And next to it is a switch-relay panel like the ones that actually powered these elevators. So, the switches and the relays move and light up.” Hickman added, “They actually used to spark. They don’t spark now. They just have LED elements in there that light up and make them look like they’re sparking.”

A Dakota FA-501 speaker embedded in the ceiling of the elevator cab plays out audio content to match the onscreen content, and the “sparking” of the switch-relay panel also has some associated audio.

Hickman elaborated further on how Diversified worked with kubik maltbie to program the motion-triggered aspect of this exhibit. “We’re taking a trigger from the proximity sensor that’s being passed through an Arduino controller that’s driving the lighting effects and the switch relays and the governors,” he said. “[kubik maltbie’s part of the system is] processing that signal, they’re giving us a closure, we’re taking that closure in, and passing that through our Q-SYS system to then trigger Dataton WATCHOUT to play back the video clip, as well as the audio.

The “Otis Elevators” exhibit features a replica of one of the ESB’s original elevator cabs. As visitors step inside, a proximity sensor triggers audio and video content playback, the governor wheels above the cab start spinning, and the switch-relay panel (at right) comes to life with light and sound.

The elevator exhibit also features another 4D multimedia experience. “The idea is that this exhibit is showing what an elevator bank would look like in service mode,” Hickman explained. “It’s a replica of a three-bay elevator shaft that you can walk through. And in the middle of it, there is a mirror box that kubik maltbie designed, so you can look up and down and it looks like this infinite elevator shaft as you’re walking through it.” He continued, “When you walk in, there’s a two-way mirror on the left and on the right, floor to ceiling. And behind each two-way mirror is Planar CLI 2.6 LED. Those LED walls are playing what looks like elevators flying up and down, passing you. And then, to add to that, as those cars pass, we’ve synchronized the media with two effects: pneumatic solenoid-driven compressors, or air blowers, and acoustic transducers embedded in the diamond-plate floor. As the cars are flying by, the media is synchronized with the Q-SYS system to drive low-frequency effect into these transducers and send a closure out to the solenoids to drive the compressors to blow air at you. So, when an elevator passes you, you kind of get this rumble and a blast of air.”

According to Hickman, spacing in this part of the exhibit area was tight, so Diversified had to devise some ingenious rigging methods involving false walls and overhead rails that would allow system components to slide out into a service area when they needed maintenance. “One of the challenges [with the infinite-shaft exhibit] was the location of it,” he recalled. “It butted up right against another exhibit on the back side of it, the south side. And in order to [provide service access to] the LED, because it was pushed up against this two-way mirror that you can’t really remove, that product is front-service product.”

Hickman continued, “We actually had to put in an overhead trolley rail to service that LED. The LED is hung from above on this rail, and on the north side, you kind of just pull it back into this little service area away from the two-way mirror, and it rides along this trolley, this overhead I-beam. But on the south, because it abutted back up against another exhibit, that exhibit’s wall is actually a false wall that’s suspended from the same rail. And so you pull that wall back into the hallway to get access to behind the LED wall. And then you pull this LED curtain back, and you can get access to the front of it between the glass and the LED.” All the rigging for the LEDs throughout the ESB was provided by rp Visual Solutions Chief provided the rest of the display mounts.

Upon leaving the elevator exhibit, visitors make their way through “Urban Campus,” which highlights some of the high-powered tenants of the ESB’s office floors, such as LinkedIn, Shutterstock and Expedia Group.

“Scenes of NYC” contains seven tower viewers that are pointed toward various New York City landmarks. Each tower viewer contains a seven-inch screen inside, and is also equipped with internal speakers. As visitors look through the viewers, they can see the landmark on the internal screen and hear audio through the embedded speakers, and the image reacts as they pan and tilt.

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Next up is “World’s Most Famous Building,” which celebrates the ESB’s many appearances in film, television and other media. The exhibit is essentially a blackout space illuminated by a moving collage of images projection mapped onto an array of rectangular surfaces lining the walls. Visitors are awash in nostalgic scenes like Spider-Man web-slinging his way around Manhattan and Little Mac from “Punch- Out!!” jogging in his pink sweats the ESB looms large in every clip.

“It’s a four-projector blend on a two-axis, curved, concave surface, but it’s a faceted surface,” Hickman described. “We went with Green Hippo as the playout and mapping engine because of their ability to do complex 3D geometry and warping, import custom UV meshes and have a consistent primary and failover redundancy. The display technology is Panasonic PT-RZ970 projectors, the same ones that we’re using everywhere else. Those have the ET-DLE060 short-throw lenses.” The display surfaces are MDF board painted with Screen Goo. An original audio score plays over six Community IC6-2082/26 speakers hidden in the shadows between the display surfaces.

According to Hickman, the projection-mapping setup ended up being a much more practical solution than what was originally planned. “The original concept was to have upwards of 75 various-sized LCD screens in different orientations, ranging from five inches all the way up to 75 inches,” he said. “It was a great concept, but it would be an enormous lift to be able to do that, in terms of installation, service and the amount of pixels that you’d have to drive. So, when we got onboarded, we looked at that and we raised these flags and said, ‘We think this might be better served as a projection map.’ And we did a proof of concept in our demo lab to show the client that we could do a projection map onto these multifaceted surfaces and mask out the in-between.”

Next up is a tribute to the ESB’s first and most iconic appearance on the silver screen: Visitors turn the corner and come face to face with Kong, “the Eighth Wonder of the World” himself, as he begins his tragic climb to the ESB’s peak. The appropriately named “King Kong” exhibit marries AVL with animatronics to provide visitors with an irresistibly Instagrammable photo op: They can even stand in for Fay Wray in the clutches of Kong’s mighty grip. According to Heitchew, the line for Kong selfies can get rather long.

“In this room, we have nine 98-inch Planar displays being powered by Alcorn McBride players,” Heitchew said. “We’re syncing all the content between all nine screens. You’ve got airplanes that fly by. King Kong goes from window to window. We also sync the lights—they flicker when he sneezes. And the hand twitches and vibrates, also. And that’s all being triggered off the Q-SYS system.” He continued, “Speaker-wise, you’ve got Dakota Audio MA5s—inside each one of the radiators, there’s a small speaker. And then, in the wall, you’ve got four Sonance IS4 C speakers.”

Beyond “King Kong” and down a corridor lined with images of the celebrities who have visited the ESB throughout the years, visitors can take the elevators up to the 80 th -floor exhibits. On the 80 th floor, one of the first exhibits visitors encounter is “NYC: Above and Beyond,” which features seven MultiTaction MT556XNB interactive kiosks. “This is a highly interactive area where people can plan their trip to New York City, to other sightseeing places, and get their itineraries printed,” Heitchew said. “The Multi-Taction blades actually move on a track. So, if they needed to be pushed out of the way for an event, you can slide everything back and forth.” To help tourists plan their trips, a Planar DL2 1.5 LED display on the wall shows prerecorded content about New York’s various attractions and the many culinary options available.

In the nearby “Artistry in Light” exhibit, a documentary about the ESB’s famous lighting ceremonies loops on four Planar displays. The displays are all playing synced content from Alcorn McBride media players, while synced audio plays via overhead Dakota FA-501 speakers. Also nearby is “Most Photographed,” which is essentially a 4800mm x 3375mm LED wall depicting a slideshow of famous and award-winning photographs of the ESB. “This is the exact same Planar TWA1.2 display that was downstairs in ‘Lighting Ceremony.’ It’s just one row bigger on the top,” Heitchew said. A single overhead Dakota FA-501 speaker handles the audio for this exhibit, and a Samsung PM32F display placed to the side of the LED wall provides information about the photographs.

Beyond there is the Stephen Wiltshire exhibit. Wiltshire, an artist known for his photographic memory and incredible landscapes, famously completed an 18-foot panorama drawing of New York City from memory after a 45-minute helicopter ride. This exhibit features a recreation of Wiltshire’s drawing on the wall, as well as a documentary about Wiltshire’s art that plays on a 75-inch NEC X754HB high-brightness display.

The Wiltshire exhibit features a high-brightness display because the 80 th floor has a lot of windows, and that particular display is located in an area that is highly prone to glare. This was just one of the ways Diversified addressed the unique lighting profile of the 80 th floor. “We had Buro Happold come in and do a light study on this floor,” Heitchew explained. “Having them do that light study was a key part of being able to select the right programing and technology for the 80 th floor.”

Heitchew continued, “One of the cool things we have on the 80 th floor is called Night Mode. We’re looking at an astronomical clock, and, whenever sunset hits on the Empire State Building, all the screens on the 80 th floor dim. That way, we don’t take away from the sunset view outside, and we don’t get glare off the windows. It’s actually really cool to be in there right when sunset hits and watch everything—the lights change, the content changes and so does the brightness of the screens.”

The “Modern Marvel” exhibit features five displays mounted above five interactive touchscreens the screens above depict facts about the ESB’s sustainability efforts in a variety of languages, and the touchscreens offer interactive effects that help visitors engage more deeply with the information.

The marquee exhibit on the 80 th floor is called “Scenes of NYC.” It features seven tower viewers—the type typically found at the top of tall tourist attractions—manufactured by Tower Optical Company. Much like the site-survey transits on the second floor, each of these tower viewers actually has an Ikan S7H seven-inch LCD screen inside it. The viewers are all oriented toward famous New York landmarks, and, when visitors look through them, the screen inside displays a view of the landmark as if the visitor were looking at it through binoculars. This exhibit was also a close collaboration between Diversified and kubik maltbie.

“The cool thing is, kubik maltbie put Arduino boxes in there, so we’re measuring the amount of the turn and the pivot up and down. And Squint/Opera programmed the content so that it tracks with that. So, it’s not like you’re just looking at a flat image when you look through the viewer. You can pan and tilt the image, and it moves with you,” Heitchew said. “There are also speakers [embedded in the viewers]. So, when you walk up to the eyepiece, you’re not only seeing but [also] hearing what you’re looking at. It’s almost like a version of VR.”

Wrapping up the 80 th floor is “Share Your Experience.” Four 75-inch Planar UR7551-MXTOUCH touchscreen displays are mounted within archways along the hallway, and visitors can post their pictures and selfies to social media with #EmpireStateBuilding to see their pictures pop up on these displays. “We have both touch capabilities here and two Intel RealSense D435 depth cameras. If you’re within a three-foot radius, the monitor reacts to you as you’re walking by. So, it kind of draws you back over to it and says, ‘Hey, come interact with me!’” Heitchew said. “We’ve got HP Z8 computers with very high-end graphics cards running that, and we’re processing a ton of data.”

From there, the only things left on the ESB tour are the 86th- and 102nd-floor observation decks. However, the views up there don’t need any AV assistance to create an unforgettable experience.

Heitchew wrapped up our discussion of the ESB upgrade by describing the control system, as well as how the system is operated and maintained. “About 90 percent of the control is show control going through Medialon and Q-SYS,” he said. “Q-SYS is our audio, which talks to Medialon via triggers, triggering different audio or video events to happen. The building is staffed with onsite AV technicians who have the ability, through iPads and Medialon web panels, to control the system from anywhere in the building.”

He continued, “There are four rack rooms of equipment that control all this. We’re on the building’s network. We’re not on a segregated AV network, but we have about six virtual local area networks [VLANs]—everything from control VLANs, to audio VLANs, to video VLANs. We also installed 32 Avigilon cameras that we use for monitoring the exhibits. And everything has a backup, as far as critical-path items, like playback engines and the CMS. If one of the HP machines were to fail or the CMS were to fail, we’re monitoring the heartbeats of all this equipment, and within 10 seconds of failing, it would automatically switch to a backup player so the screens wouldn’t go dark.”

All told, this was a memorable project for Diversified, and the team couldn’t have asked for a more amazing job site. “We can attest to the views up there,” Heitchew shared. “Almost every night—especially in the winter, around 4 o’clock, when the sun starts setting, and there was nobody up there except us—you’d kind of stop working, because every day was a different sunset. It was pretty cool.”

In “Most Photographed,” a 4800mm x 3375mm LED wall depicts a slideshow of famous and award-winning photographs of the ESB. A smaller display to the right of the LED wall shows information about the images.

For a walkthroughs of the revamped Empire State Building’s second-floor and 80th-floor exhibits, click here. To view more installation features from Sound & Communications, click here.


The Empire State Building is located on the west side of Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, between 33rd Street to the south and 34th Street to the north. [14] Tenants enter the building through the Art Deco lobby located at 350 Fifth Avenue. Visitors to the observatories use an entrance at 20 West 34th Street prior to August 2018, visitors entered through the Fifth Avenue lobby. [1] Although physically located in South Midtown, [15] a mixed residential and commercial area, [16] the building is so large that it was assigned its own ZIP Code, 10118 [17] [18] as of 2012 [update] , it is one of 43 buildings in New York City that have their own ZIP codes. [19] [b]

The areas surrounding the Empire State Building are home to other major points of interest, including Macy's at Herald Square on Sixth Avenue and 34th Street, [22] Koreatown on 32nd Street between Madison and Sixth Avenues, [22] [23] Penn Station and Madison Square Garden on Seventh Avenue between 32nd and 34th Streets, [22] and the Flower District on 28th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. [24] The nearest New York City Subway stations are 34th Street–Penn Station at Seventh Avenue, two blocks west 34th Street–Herald Square, one block west and 33rd Street at Park Avenue, two blocks east. [d] There is also a PATH station at 33rd Street and Sixth Avenue. [25]

To the east of the Empire State Building is Murray Hill, [25] a neighborhood with a mix of residential, commercial, and entertainment activity. [26] The block directly to the northeast contains the B. Altman and Company Building, which houses the City University of New York's Graduate Center, while the Demarest Building is directly across Fifth Avenue to the east. [27]

The site was previously owned by John Jacob Astor of the prominent Astor family, who had owned the site since the mid-1820s. [28] [29] In 1893, John Jacob Astor Sr.'s grandson William Waldorf Astor opened the Waldorf Hotel on the site [30] [31] four years later, his cousin, John Jacob Astor IV, opened the 16-story Astoria Hotel on an adjacent site. [32] [30] [33] The two portions of the Waldorf–Astoria hotel had 1,300 bedrooms, making it the largest hotel in the world at the time. [34] After the death of its founding proprietor, George Boldt, in early 1918, the hotel lease was purchased by Thomas Coleman du Pont. [35] [36] By the 1920s, the old Waldorf–Astoria was becoming dated and the elegant social life of New York had moved much farther north than 34th Street. [37] [38] [39] The Astor family decided to build a replacement hotel further uptown, [30] and sold the hotel to Bethlehem Engineering Corporation in 1928 for $14–16 million. [37] The hotel closed shortly thereafter, on May 3, 1929. [32]

Planning process

Early plans

Bethlehem Engineering Corporation originally intended to build a 25-story office building on the Waldorf–Astoria site. The company's president, Floyd De L. Brown, paid $100,000 of the $1 million down payment required to start construction on the building, with the promise that the difference would be paid later. [30] Brown borrowed $900,000 from a bank, but then defaulted on the loan. [40] [41] After Brown was unable to secure additional funding, [38] the land was resold to Empire State Inc., a group of wealthy investors that included Louis G. Kaufman, Ellis P. Earle, John J. Raskob, Coleman du Pont, and Pierre S. du Pont. [40] [41] [42] The name came from the state nickname for New York. [43] Alfred E. Smith, a former Governor of New York and U.S. presidential candidate whose 1928 campaign had been managed by Raskob, [44] was appointed head of the company. [38] [40] [41] The group also purchased nearby land so they would have the 2 acres (1 ha) needed for the base, with the combined plot measuring 425 feet (130 m) wide by 200 feet (61 m) long. [45]

The Empire State Inc. consortium was announced to the public in August 1929. [46] [47] [45] Concurrently, Smith announced the construction of an 80-story building on the site, to be taller than any other buildings in existence. [45] [48] Empire State Inc. contracted William F. Lamb, of architectural firm Shreve, Lamb and Harmon, to create the building design. [2] [49] Lamb produced the building drawings in just two weeks using the firm's earlier designs for the Reynolds Building in Winston-Salem, North Carolina as the basis. [43] Concurrently, Lamb's partner Richmond Shreve created "bug diagrams" of the project requirements. [50] The 1916 Zoning Act forced Lamb to design a structure that incorporated setbacks resulting in the lower floors being larger than the upper floors. [e] Consequently, the building was designed from the top down, [51] giving it a "pencil"-like shape. [52] The plans were devised within a budget of $50 million and a stipulation that the building be ready for occupancy within 18 months of the start of construction. [38]

Design changes

The original plan of the building was 50 stories, [53] but was later increased to 60 and then 80 stories. [45] Height restrictions were placed on nearby buildings [45] to ensure that the top fifty floors of the planned 80-story, 1,000-foot-tall (300 m) building [54] [55] would have unobstructed views of the city. [45] The New York Times lauded the site's proximity to mass transit, with the Brooklyn–Manhattan Transit's 34th Street station and the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad's 33rd Street terminal one block away, as well as Penn Station two blocks away and the Grand Central Terminal nine blocks away at its closest. It also praised the 3,000,000 square feet (280,000 m 2 ) of proposed floor space near "one of the busiest sections in the world". [45]

While plans for the Empire State Building were being finalized, an intense competition in New York for the title of "world's tallest building" was underway. 40 Wall Street (then the Bank of Manhattan Building) and the Chrysler Building in Manhattan both vied for this distinction and were already under construction when work began on the Empire State Building. [54] The "Race into the Sky", as popular media called it at the time, was representative of the country's optimism in the 1920s, fueled by the building boom in major cities. [56] The race was defined by at least five other proposals, although only the Empire State Building would survive the Wall Street Crash of 1929. [38] [f] The 40 Wall Street tower was revised, in April 1929, from 840 feet (260 m) to 925 feet (282 m) making it the world's tallest. [58] The Chrysler Building added its 185-foot (56 m) steel tip to its roof in October 1929, thus bringing it to a height of 1,046 feet (319 m) and greatly exceeding the height of 40 Wall Street. [54] The Chrysler Building's developer, Walter Chrysler, realized that his tower's height would exceed the Empire State Building's as well, having instructed his architect, William Van Alen, to change the Chrysler's original roof from a stubby Romanesque dome to a narrow steel spire. [58] Raskob, wishing to have the Empire State Building be the world's tallest, reviewed the plans and had five floors added as well as a spire however, the new floors would need to be set back because of projected wind pressure on the extension. [59] On November 18, 1929, Smith acquired a lot at 27–31 West 33rd Street, adding 75 feet (23 m) to the width of the proposed office building's site. [60] [61] Two days later, Smith announced the updated plans for the skyscraper. The plans included an observation deck on the 86th-floor roof at a height of 1,050 feet (320 m), higher than the Chrysler's 71st-floor observation deck. [59] [62]

The 1,050-foot Empire State Building would only be 4 feet (1.2 m) taller than the Chrysler Building, [59] [63] [64] and Raskob was afraid that Chrysler might try to "pull a trick like hiding a rod in the spire and then sticking it up at the last minute." [53] [65] [63] The plans were revised one last time in December 1929, to include a 16-story, 200-foot (61 m) metal "crown" and an additional 222-foot (68 m) mooring mast intended for dirigibles. The roof height was now 1,250 feet (380 m), making it the tallest building in the world by far, even without the antenna. [66] [53] [67] The addition of the dirigible station meant that another floor, the now-enclosed 86th floor, would have to be built below the crown [67] however, unlike the Chrysler's spire, the Empire State's mast would serve a practical purpose. [65] A revised plan was announced to the public in late December 1929, just before the start of construction. [38] [39] The final plan was sketched within two hours, the night before the plan was supposed to be presented to the site's owners in January 1930. [38] The New York Times reported that the spire was facing some "technical problems", but they were "no greater than might be expected under such a novel plan." [68] By this time the blueprints for the building had gone through up to fifteen versions before they were approved. [53] [69] [70] Lamb described the other specifications he was given for the final, approved plan:

The program was short enough—a fixed budget, no space more than 28 feet from window to corridor, as many stories of such space as possible, an exterior of limestone, and completion date of [May 1], 1931, which meant a year and six months from the beginning of sketches. [71] [53]

The contractors were Starrett Brothers and Eken, Paul and William A. Starrett and Andrew J. Eken, [72] who would later construct other New York City buildings such as Stuyvesant Town, Starrett City and Trump Tower. [73] The project was financed primarily by Raskob and Pierre du Pont, [74] while James Farley's General Builders Supply Corporation supplied the building materials. [2] John W. Bowser was the construction superintendent of the project, [75] and the structural engineer of the building was Homer G. Balcom. [49] [76] The tight completion schedule necessitated the commencement of construction even though the design had yet to be finalized. [77]


Hotel demolition

Demolition of the old Waldorf–Astoria began on October 1, 1929. [78] Stripping the building down was an arduous process, as the hotel had been constructed using more rigid material than earlier buildings had been. Furthermore, the old hotel's granite, wood chips, and "'precious' metals such as lead, brass, and zinc" were not in high demand resulting in issues with disposal. [79] Most of the wood was deposited into a woodpile on nearby 30th Street or was burned in a swamp elsewhere. Much of the other materials that made up the old hotel, including the granite and bronze, were dumped into the Atlantic Ocean near Sandy Hook, New Jersey. [80] [81]

By the time the hotel's demolition started, Raskob had secured the required funding for the construction of the building. [82] The plan was to start construction later that year but, on October 24, the New York Stock Exchange experienced the major and sudden Wall Street Crash, marking the beginning of the decade-long Great Depression. Despite the economic downturn, Raskob refused to cancel the project because of the progress that had been made up to that point. [46] Neither Raskob, who had ceased speculation in the stock market the previous year, nor Smith, who had no stock investments, suffered financially in the crash. [82] However, most of the investors were affected and as a result, in December 1929, Empire State Inc. obtained a $27.5 million loan from Metropolitan Life Insurance Company so construction could begin. [83] The stock market crash resulted in no demand in new office space, Raskob and Smith nonetheless started construction, [84] as canceling the project would have resulted in greater losses for the investors. [46]

Steel structure

A structural steel contract was awarded on January 12, 1930, [85] with excavation of the site beginning ten days later on January 22, [86] before the old hotel had been completely demolished. [87] Two twelve-hour shifts, consisting of 300 men each, worked continuously to dig the 55-foot (17 m) foundation. [86] Small pier holes were sunk into the ground to house the concrete footings that would support the steelwork. [88] Excavation was nearly complete by early March, [89] and construction on the building itself started on March 17, [90] [2] with the builders placing the first steel columns on the completed footings before the rest of the footings had been finished. [91] Around this time, Lamb held a press conference on the building plans. He described the reflective steel panels parallel to the windows, the large-block Indiana Limestone facade that was slightly more expensive than smaller bricks, and the building's vertical lines. [66] Four colossal columns, intended for installation in the center of the building site, were delivered they would support a combined 10,000,000 pounds (4,500,000 kg) when the building was finished. [92]

The structural steel was pre-ordered and pre-fabricated in anticipation of a revision to the city's building code that would have allowed the Empire State Building's structural steel to carry 18,000 pounds per square inch (120,000 kPa), up from 16,000 pounds per square inch (110,000 kPa), thus reducing the amount of steel needed for the building. Although the 18,000-psi regulation had been safely enacted in other cities, Mayor Jimmy Walker did not sign the new codes into law until March 26, 1930, just before construction was due to commence. [90] [93] The first steel framework was installed on April 1, 1930. [94] From there, construction proceeded at a rapid pace during one stretch of 10 working days, the builders erected fourteen floors. [95] [2] This was made possible through precise coordination of the building's planning, as well as the mass production of common materials such as windows and spandrels. [96] On one occasion, when a supplier could not provide timely delivery of dark Hauteville marble, Starrett switched to using Rose Famosa marble from a German quarry that was purchased specifically to provide the project with sufficient marble. [88]

The scale of the project was massive, with trucks carrying "16,000 partition tiles, 5,000 bags of cement, 450 cubic yards [340 m 3 ] of sand and 300 bags of lime" arriving at the construction site every day. [97] There were also cafes and concession stands on five of the incomplete floors so workers did not have to descend to the ground level to eat lunch. [3] [98] Temporary water taps were also built so workers did not waste time buying water bottles from the ground level. [3] [99] Additionally, carts running on a small railway system transported materials from the basement storage [3] to elevators that brought the carts to the desired floors where they would then be distributed throughout that level using another set of tracks. [97] [100] [98] The 57,480 short tons (51,320 long tons) of steel ordered for the project was the largest-ever single order of steel at the time, comprising more steel than was ordered for the Chrysler Building and 40 Wall Street combined. [101] [102] According to historian John Tauranac, building materials were sourced from numerous, and distant, sources with "limestone from Indiana, steel girders from Pittsburgh, cement and mortar from upper New York State, marble from Italy, France, and England, wood from northern and Pacific Coast forests, [and] hardware from New England." [95] The facade, too, used a variety of material, most prominently Indiana limestone but also Swedish black granite, terracotta, and brick. [103]

Completion and scale

Afterward, work on the building's interior and crowning mast commenced. [109] The mooring mast topped out on November 21, two months after the steelwork had been completed. [107] [110] Meanwhile, work on the walls and interior was progressing at a quick pace, with exterior walls built up to the 75th floor by the time steelwork had been built to the 95th floor. [111] The majority of the facade was already finished by the middle of November. [3] Because of the building's height, it was deemed infeasible to have many elevators or large elevator cabins, so the builders contracted with the Otis Elevator Company to make 66 cars that could speed at 1,200 feet per minute (366 m/min), which represented the largest-ever elevator order at the time. [112]

In addition to the time constraint builders had, there were also space limitations because construction materials had to be delivered quickly, and trucks needed to drop off these materials without congesting traffic. This was solved by creating a temporary driveway for the trucks between 33rd and 34th Streets, and then storing the materials in the building's first floor and basements. Concrete mixers, brick hoppers, and stone hoists inside the building ensured that materials would be able to ascend quickly and without endangering or inconveniencing the public. [111] At one point, over 200 trucks made material deliveries at the building site every day. [3] A series of relay and erection derricks, placed on platforms erected near the building, lifted the steel from the trucks below and installed the beams at the appropriate locations. [113] The Empire State Building was structurally completed on April 11, 1931, twelve days ahead of schedule and 410 days after construction commenced. [3] Al Smith shot the final rivet, which was made of solid gold. [114]

The project involved more than 3,500 workers at its peak, [2] including 3,439 on a single day, August 14, 1930. [115] Many of the workers were Irish and Italian immigrants, [116] with a sizable minority of Mohawk ironworkers from the Kahnawake reserve near Montreal. [116] [117] [118] According to official accounts, five workers died during the construction, [119] [120] although the New York Daily News gave reports of 14 deaths [3] and a headline in the socialist magazine The New Masses spread unfounded rumors of up to 42 deaths. [121] [120] The Empire State Building cost $40,948,900 to build, including demolition of the Waldorf–Astoria (equivalent to $564,491,900 in 2019). This was lower than the $60 million budgeted for construction. [5]

Lewis Hine captured many photographs of the construction, documenting not only the work itself but also providing insight into the daily life of workers in that era. [86] [122] [123] Hine's images were used extensively by the media to publish daily press releases. [124] According to the writer Jim Rasenberger, Hine "climbed out onto the steel with the ironworkers and dangled from a derrick cable hundreds of feet above the city to capture, as no one ever had before (or has since), the dizzy work of building skyscrapers". In Rasenberger's words, Hine turned what might have been an assignment of "corporate flak" into "exhilarating art". [125] These images were later organized into their own collection. [126] Onlookers were enraptured by the sheer height at which the steelworkers operated. New York magazine wrote of the steelworkers: "Like little spiders they toiled, spinning a fabric of steel against the sky". [113]

Opening and early years

The Empire State Building officially opened on May 1, 1931, forty-five days ahead of its projected opening date, and eighteen months from the start of construction. [127] [2] [128] The opening was marked with an event featuring United States President Herbert Hoover, who turned on the building's lights with the ceremonial button push from Washington, D.C.. [129] [130] [4] Over 350 guests attended the opening ceremony, and following luncheon, at the 86th floor including Jimmy Walker, Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Al Smith. [4] An account from that day stated that the view from the luncheon was obscured by a fog, with other landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty being "lost in the mist" enveloping New York City. [131] The Empire State Building officially opened the next day. [131] [75] Advertisements for the building's observatories were placed in local newspapers, while nearby hotels also capitalized on the events by releasing advertisements that lauded their proximity to the newly opened building. [132]

According to The New York Times, builders and real estate speculators predicted that the 1,250-foot-tall (380 m) Empire State Building would be the world's tallest building "for many years", thus ending the great New York City skyscraper rivalry. At the time, most engineers agreed that it would be difficult to build a building taller than 1,200 feet (370 m), even with the hardy Manhattan bedrock as a foundation. [133] Technically, it was believed possible to build a tower of up to 2,000 feet (610 m), but it was deemed uneconomical to do so, especially during the Great Depression. [100] [134] As the tallest building in the world, at that time, and the first one to exceed 100 floors, the Empire State Building became an icon of the city and, ultimately, of the nation. [135]

In 1932, the Fifth Avenue Association gave the building its 1931 "gold medal" for architectural excellence, signifying that the Empire State had been the best-designed building on Fifth Avenue to open in 1931. [136] A year later, on March 2, 1933, the movie King Kong was released. The movie, which depicted a large stop motion ape named Kong climbing the Empire State Building, made the still-new building into a cinematic icon. [137] [138]

Tenants and tourism

The Empire State Building's opening coincided with the Great Depression in the United States, and as a result much of its office space was vacant from its opening. [126] In the first year, only 23% of the available space was rented, [139] [140] as compared to the early 1920s, where the average building would have occupancy of 52% upon opening and 90% rented within five years. [141] The lack of renters led New Yorkers to deride the building as the "Empty State Building. [126] [142] or "Smith's Folly". [143]

The earliest tenants in the Empire State Building were large companies, banks, and garment industries. [143] Jack Brod, one of the building's longest resident tenants, [144] [145] co-established the Empire Diamond Corporation with his father in the building in mid-1931 [146] and rented space in the building until he died in 2008. [146] Brod recalled that there were only about 20 tenants at the time of opening, including him, [145] and that Al Smith was the only real tenant in the space above his seventh-floor offices. [144] Generally, during the early 1930s, it was rare for more than a single office space to be rented in the building, despite Smith's and Raskob's aggressive marketing efforts in the newspapers and to anyone they knew. [147] The building's lights were continuously left on, even in the unrented spaces, to give the impression of occupancy. This was exacerbated by competition from Rockefeller Center [139] as well as from buildings on 42nd Street, which, when combined with the Empire State Building, resulted in surplus of office space in a slow market during the 1930s. [148]

Aggressive marketing efforts served to reinforce the Empire State Building's status as the world's tallest. [149] The observatory was advertised in local newspapers as well as on railroad tickets. [150] The building became a popular tourist attraction, with one million people each paying one dollar to ride elevators to the observation decks in 1931. [151] In its first year of operation, the observation deck made approximately $2 million in revenue, as much as its owners made in rent that year. [139] [126] By 1936, the observation deck was crowded on a daily basis, with food and drink available for purchase at the top, [152] and by 1944 the building had received its five-millionth visitor. [153] In 1931, NBC took up tenancy, leasing space on the 85th floor for radio broadcasts. [154] [155] From the outset the building was in debt, losing $1 million per year by 1935. Real estate developer Seymour Durst recalled that the building was so underused in 1936 that there was no elevator service above the 45th floor, as the building above the 41st floor was empty except for the NBC offices and the Raskob/Du Pont offices on the 81st floor. [156]

Other events

Per the original plans, the Empire State Building's spire was intended to be an airship docking station. Raskob and Smith had proposed dirigible ticketing offices and passenger waiting rooms on the 86th floor, while the airships themselves would be tied to the spire at the equivalent of the building's 106th floor. [157] [158] An elevator would ferry passengers from the 86th to the 101st floor [g] after they had checked in on the 86th floor, [160] after which passengers would have climbed steep ladders to board the airship. [157] The idea, however, was impractical and dangerous due to powerful updrafts caused by the building itself, [161] the wind currents across Manhattan, [157] and the spires of nearby skyscrapers. [162] Furthermore, even if the airship were to successfully navigate all these obstacles, its crew would have to jettison some ballast by releasing water onto the streets below in order to maintain stability, and then tie the craft's nose to the spire with no mooring lines securing the tail end of the craft. [13] [157] [162] On September 15, 1931, a small commercial United States Navy airship circled 25 times in 45-mile-per-hour (72 km/h) winds. [163] The airship then attempted to dock at the mast, but its ballast spilled and the craft was rocked by unpredictable eddies. [164] [165] The near-disaster scuttled plans to turn the building's spire into an airship terminal, although one blimp did manage to make a single newspaper delivery afterward. [38] [157]

On July 28, 1945, a B-25 Mitchell bomber crashed into the north side of the Empire State Building, between the 79th and 80th floors. [166] One engine completely penetrated the building and landed in a neighboring block, while the other engine and part of the landing gear plummeted down an elevator shaft. Fourteen people were killed in the incident, [167] [70] but the building escaped severe damage and was reopened two days later. [167] [168]


The Empire State Building only started becoming profitable in the 1950s, when it was finally able to break even for the first time. [126] [169] At the time, mass transit options in the building's vicinity were limited compared to the present day. Despite this challenge, the Empire State Building began to attract renters due to its reputation. [170] A 222-foot (68 m) radio antenna was erected on top of the towers starting in 1950, [171] allowing the area's television stations to be broadcast from the building. [172]

However, despite the turnaround in the building's fortunes, Raskob listed it for sale in 1951, [173] with a minimum asking price of $50 million. [174] The property was purchased by business partners Roger L. Stevens, Henry Crown, Alfred R. Glancy and Ben Tobin. [175] [176] [177] The sale was brokered by the Charles F. Noyes Company, a prominent real estate firm in upper Manhattan, [174] for $51 million, the highest price paid for a single structure at the time. [178] By this time, the Empire State had been fully leased for several years with a waiting list of parties looking to lease space in the building, according to the Cortland Standard. [179] That same year, six news companies formed a partnership to pay a combined annual fee of $600,000 to use the building's antenna, [174] which was completed in 1953. [172] Crown bought out his partners' ownership stakes in 1954, becoming the sole owner. [180] The following year, the American Society of Civil Engineers named the building one of the "Seven Modern Civil Engineering Wonders". [181] [182]

In 1961, Lawrence A. Wien signed a contract to purchase the Empire State Building for $65 million, with Harry B. Helmsley acting as partners in the building's operating lease. [175] [183] This became the new highest price for a single structure. [183] Over 3,000 people paid $10,000 for one share each in a company called Empire State Building Associates. The company in turn subleased the building to another company headed by Helmsley and Wien, raising $33 million of the funds needed to pay the purchase price. [175] [183] In a separate transaction, [183] the land underneath the building was sold to Prudential Insurance for $29 million. [175] [184] Helmsley, Wien, and Peter Malkin quickly started a program of minor improvement projects, including the first-ever full-building facade refurbishment and window-washing in 1962, [185] [186] the installation of new flood lights on the 72nd floor in 1964, [187] [188] and replacement of the manually operated elevators with automatic units in 1966. [189] The little-used western end of the second floor was used as a storage space until 1964, at which point it received escalators to the first floor as part of its conversion into a highly sought retail area. [190] [191]

Loss of "tallest building" title

In 1961, the same year that Helmsley, Wien, and Malkin had purchased the Empire State Building, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey formally backed plans for a new World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. [194] The plan originally included 66-story twin towers with column-free open spaces. The Empire State's owners and real estate speculators were worried that the twin towers' 7.6 million square feet (710,000 m 2 ) of office space would create a glut of rentable space in Manhattan as well as take away the Empire State Building's profits from lessees. [195] A revision in the World Trade Center's plan brought the twin towers to 1,370 feet (420 m) each or 110 stories, taller than the Empire State. [196] Opponents of the new project included prominent real-estate developer Robert Tishman, as well as Wien's Committee for a Reasonable World Trade Center. [196] In response to Wien's opposition, Port Authority executive director Austin J. Tobin said that Wien was only opposing the project because it would overshadow his Empire State Building as the world's tallest building. [197]

The World Trade Center's twin towers started construction in 1966. [198] The following year, the Ostankino Tower succeeded the Empire State Building as the tallest freestanding structure in the world. [199] In 1970, the Empire State surrendered its position as the world's tallest building, [200] when the World Trade Center's still-under-construction North Tower surpassed it, on October 19 [192] [193] the North Tower was topped out, on December 23, 1970. [193] [201]

In December 1975, the observation deck was opened on the 110th floor of the Twin Towers, significantly higher than the 86th floor observatory on the Empire State Building. [70] The latter was also losing revenue during this period, particularly as a number of broadcast stations had moved to the World Trade Center in 1971 although the Port Authority continued to pay the broadcasting leases for the Empire State until 1984. [202] The Empire State Building was still seen as prestigious, having seen its forty-millionth visitor in March 1971. [203]

1980s and 1990s

By 1980, there were nearly two million annual visitors, [151] although a building official had previously estimated between 1.5 million and 1.75 million annual visitors. [204] The building received its own ZIP code in May 1980 in a roll out of 63 new postal codes in Manhattan. At the time, its tenants collectively received 35,000 pieces of mail daily. [21] The Empire State Building celebrated its 50th anniversary on May 1, 1981, with a much-publicized, but poorly received, laser light show, [205] as well as an "Empire State Building Week" that ran through to May 8. [206] [207]

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to make the lobby a city landmark on May 19, 1981, citing the historic nature of the first and second floors, as well as "the fixtures and interior components" of the upper floors. [208] The building became a National Historic Landmark in 1986 [10] in close alignment to the New York City Landmarks report. [209] The Empire State Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places the following year due to its architectural significance. [210]

Capital improvements were made to the Empire State Building during the early to mid-1990s at a cost of $55 million. [211] These improvements entailed replacing alarm systems, elevators, windows, and air conditioning making the observation deck compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and refurbishing the limestone facade. [212] The observatory renovation was added after disability rights groups and the United States Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the building in 1992, in what was the first lawsuit filed by an organization under the new law. [213] A settlement was reached in 1994, in which the Empire State Building Associates agreed to add ADA-compliant elements, such as new elevators, ramps, and automatic doors, during its ongoing renovation. [214]

Prudential sold the land under the building in 1991 for $42 million to a buyer representing hotelier Hideki Yokoi [ja] , who was imprisoned at the time in connection with the deadly Hotel New Japan Fire [ja] at the Hotel New Japan [ja] in Tokyo. [215] In 1994, Donald Trump entered into a joint-venture agreement with Yokoi, with a shared goal of breaking the Empire State Building's lease on the land in an effort to gain total ownership of the building so that, if successful, the two could reap the potential profits of merging the ownership of the building with the land beneath it. [216] Having secured a half-ownership of the land, Trump devised plans to take ownership of the building itself so he could renovate it, even though Helmsley and Malkin had already started their refurbishment project. [211] He sued Empire State Building Associates in February 1995, claiming that the latter had caused the building to become a "high-rise slum" [175] and a "second-rate, rodent-infested" office tower. [217] Trump had intended to have Empire State Building Associates evicted for violating the terms of their lease, [217] but was denied. [218] This led to Helmsley's companies countersuing Trump in May. [219] This sparked a series of lawsuits and countersuits that lasted several years, [175] partly arising from Trump's desire to obtain the building's master lease by taking it from Empire State Building Associates. [212] Upon Harry Helmsley's death in 1997, the Malkins sued Helmsley's widow, Leona Helmsley, for control of the building. [220]

21st century


Following the destruction of the World Trade Center during the September 11 attacks in 2001, the Empire State Building again became the tallest building in New York City, but was only the second-tallest building in the Americas after the Sears (later Willis) Tower in Chicago. [199] [221] [222] As a result of the attacks, transmissions from nearly all of the city's commercial television and FM radio stations were again broadcast from the Empire State Building. [223] The attacks also led to an increase in security due to persistent terror threats against New York City landmarks. [224]

In 2002, Trump and Yokoi sold their land claim to the Empire State Building Associates, now headed by Malkin, in a $57.5 million sale. [175] [225] This action merged the building's title and lease for the first time in half a century. [225] Despite the lingering threat posed by the 9/11 attacks, the Empire State Building remained popular with 3.5 million visitors to the observatories in 2004, compared to about 2.8 million in 2003. [226]

Even though she maintained her ownership stake in the building until the post-consolidation IPO in October 2013, Leona Helmsley handed over day-to-day operations of the building in 2006 to Peter Malkin's company. [175] [227] In 2008, the building was temporarily "stolen" by the New York Daily News to show how easy it was to transfer the deed on a property, since city clerks were not required to validate the submitted information, as well as to help demonstrate how fraudulent deeds could be used to obtain large mortgages and then have individuals disappear with the money. The paperwork submitted to the city included the names of Fay Wray, the famous star of King Kong, and Willie Sutton, a notorious New York bank robber. The newspaper then transferred the deed back over to the legitimate owners, who at that time were Empire State Land Associates. [228]


Starting in 2009, the building's public areas received a $550 million renovation, with improvements to the air conditioning and waterproofing, renovations to the observation deck and main lobby, [229] and relocation of the gift shop to the 80th floor. [230] [231] About $120 million was spent on improving the energy efficiency of the building, with the goal of reducing energy emissions by 38% within five years. [231] [232] For example, all of the windows were refurbished onsite into film-coated "superwindows" which block heat but pass light. [232] [233] [234] Air conditioning operating costs on hot days were reduced, saving $17 million of the project's capital cost immediately and partially funding some of the other retrofits. [233] The Empire State Building won the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold for Existing Buildings rating in September 2011, as well as the World Federation of Great Towers' Excellence in Environment Award for 2010. [234] For the LEED Gold certification, the building's energy reduction was considered, as was a large purchase of carbon offsets. Other factors included low-flow bathroom fixtures, green cleaning supplies, and use of recycled paper products. [235]

On April 30, 2012, One World Trade Center topped out, taking the Empire State Building's record of tallest in the city. [236] By 2014, the building was owned by the Empire State Realty Trust (ESRT), with Anthony Malkin as chairman, CEO, and president. [237] The ESRT was a public company, having begun trading publicly on the New York Stock Exchange the previous year. [238] In August 2016, the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) was issued new fully diluted shares equivalent to 9.9% of the trust this investment gave them partial ownership of the entirety of the ESRT's portfolio, and as a result, partial ownership of the Empire State Building. [239] The trust's president John Kessler called it an "endorsement of the company's irreplaceable assets". [240] The investment has been described by the real-estate magazine The Real Deal as "an unusual move for a sovereign wealth fund", as these funds typically buy direct stakes in buildings rather than real estate companies. [241] Other foreign entities that have a stake in the ESRT include investors from Norway, Japan, and Australia. [240]

A renovation of the Empire State Building was commenced in the 2010s to further improve energy efficiency, public areas, and amenities. [1] In August 2018, to improve the flow of visitor traffic, the main visitor's entrance was shifted to 20 West 34th Street as part of a major renovation of the observatory lobby. [242] The new lobby includes several technological features, including large LED panels, digital ticket kiosks in nine languages, and a two-story architectural model of the building surrounded by two metal staircases. [1] [242] The first phase of the renovation, completed in 2019, features an updated exterior lighting system and digital hosts. [242] The new lobby also features free Wi-Fi provided for those waiting. [1] [243] A 10,000-square-foot (930 m 2 ) exhibit with nine galleries, opened in July 2019. [244] [245] The 102nd floor observatory, the third phase of the redesign, re-opened to the public on October 12, 2019. [246] [247] That portion of the project included outfitting the space with floor-to-ceiling glass windows and a brand-new glass elevator. [248] The final portion of the renovations to be completed was a new observatory on the 80th floor, which opened on December 2, 2019. In total, the renovation had cost $165 million and taken four years to finish. [249] [250]

The building has been named as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. [252] The building and its street floor interior are designated landmarks of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, and confirmed by the New York City Board of Estimate. [253] It was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1986. [10] [209] [254] In 2007, it was first on the AIA's List of America's Favorite Architecture. [255]

The Empire State Building has a symmetrical massing, or shape, because of its large lot and relatively short base. The five-story base occupies the entire lot, while the 81-story tower above it is set back sharply from the base. [38] [68] [256] There are smaller setbacks on the upper stories, allowing sunlight to illuminate the interiors of the top floors, and positioning these floors away from the noisy streets below. [52] [257] The setbacks are located at the 21st, 25th, 30th, 72nd, 81st, and 85th stories. [258]

The setbacks were mandated as per the 1916 Zoning Resolution, which was intended to allow sunlight to reach the streets as well. [e] Normally, a building of the Empire State's dimensions would be permitted to build up to 12 stories on the Fifth Avenue side, and up to 17 stories on the 33rd/34th Streets side, before it would have to utilize setbacks. [68] However, with the largest setback being located above the base, the tower stories could contain a uniform shape. [264] [265] [53] According to architectural writer Robert A. M. Stern, the Empire State Building's form contrasted with the nearly contemporary, similarly designed 500 Fifth Avenue eight blocks north, which had an asymmetrical massing on a smaller lot. [38]


The Empire State Building's art deco design is typical of pre–World War II architecture in New York. [253] The facade is clad in Indiana limestone panels sourced from the Empire Mill in Sanders, Indiana, [266] which give the building its signature blonde color. [43] According to official fact sheets, the facade uses 200,000 cubic feet (5,700 m 3 ) of limestone and granite, ten million bricks, and 730 short tons (650 long tons) of aluminum and stainless steel. [267] The building also contains 6,514 windows. [268]

The main entrance, composed of three sets of metal doors, is at the center of the Fifth Avenue facade, flanked by molded piers that are topped with eagles. Above the main entrance is a transom, a triple-height transom window with geometric patterns, and the golden letters empire state above the fifth-floor windows. [256] [127] There are two entrances each on 33rd and 34th Streets, with modernistic, stainless steel canopies projecting from the entrances on 33rd and 34th Streets there. Above the secondary entrances are triple windows, less elaborate in design than those on Fifth Avenue. [253] [256] [127] The storefronts on the first floor contain aluminum-framed doors and windows within a black granite cladding. [256] [127] The second through fourth stories consist of windows alternating with wide stone piers and narrower stone mullions. The fifth story contains windows alternating with wide and narrow mullions, and is topped by a horizontal stone sill. [256]

The facade of the tower stories is split into several vertical bays on each side, with windows projecting slightly from the limestone cladding. The bays are arranged into sets of one, two, or three windows on each floor. [269] The windows in each bay are separated by vertical nickel-chrome steel mullions and connected by horizontal aluminum spandrels on each floor. [258] [127]

Structural features

The riveted steel frame of the building was originally designed to handle all of the building's gravitational stresses and wind loads. [270] The amount of material used in the building's construction resulted in a very stiff structure when compared to other skyscrapers, with a structural stiffness of 42 pounds per square foot (2.0 kPa) versus the Willis Tower's 33 pounds per square foot (1.6 kPa) and the John Hancock Center's 26 pounds per square foot (1.2 kPa). [271] A December 1930 feature in Popular Mechanics estimated that a building with the Empire State's dimensions would still stand even if hit with an impact of 50 short tons (45 long tons). [264]

Utilities are grouped in a central shaft. [68] On the 6th through 86th stories, the central shaft is surrounded by a main corridor on all four sides. [53] As per the final specifications of the building, the corridor is surrounded in turn by office space 28 feet (8.5 m) deep, maximizing office space at a time before air conditioning became commonplace. [272] [71] Each of the floors has 210 structural columns that pass through it, which provide structural stability, but limits the amount of open space on these floors. [53] However, the relative dearth of stone in the building allows for more space overall, with a 1:200 stone-to-building ratio in the Empire State compared to a 1:50 ratio in similar buildings. [100]


According to official fact sheets, the Empire State Building weighs 365,000 short tons (331,122 t) and has an internal volume of 37 million cubic feet (1,000,000 m 3 ). [267] The interior required 1,172 miles (1,886 km) of elevator cable and 2 million feet (609,600 m) of electrical wires. [273] The Empire State Building has a total floor area of 2,768,591 sq ft (257,211 m 2 ), and each of the floors in the base cover 2 acres (1 ha). [274] This gives the building capacity for 20,000 tenants and 15,000 visitors. [264]

The Empire State Building contains 73 elevators. [232] Its original 64 elevators, built by the Otis Elevator Company, [274] are located in a central core and are of varying heights, with the longest of these elevators reaching from the lobby to the 80th floor. [68] [275] As originally built, there were four "express" elevators that connected the lobby, 80th floor, and several landings in between the other 60 "local" elevators connected the landings with the floors above these intermediate landings. [265] Of the 64 total elevators, 58 were for passenger use (comprising the four express elevators and 54 local elevators), and eight were for freight deliveries. [53] The elevators were designed to move at 1,200 feet per minute (366 m/min). At the time of the skyscraper's construction, their practical speed was limited to 700 feet per minute (213 m/min) as per city law, but this limit was removed shortly after the building opened. [274] [53] Additional elevators connect the 80th floor to the six floors above it, as the six extra floors were built after the original 80 stories were approved. [54] [276] The elevators were mechanically operated until 2011, when they were replaced with automatic elevators during the $550 million renovation of the building. [277] An additional elevator connects the 86th and 102nd floor observatories, which allows visitors access the 102nd floor observatory after having their tickets scanned. It also allows employees to access the mechanical floors located between the 87th and 101st floors. The Empire State Building has 73 elevators in all, including service elevators. [270]


The original main lobby is accessed from Fifth Avenue, on the building's east side, and contains an entrance with one set of double doors between a pair of revolving doors. At the top of each doorway is a bronze motif depicting one of three "crafts or industries" used in the building's construction—Electricity, Masonry, and Heating. [278] The lobby contains two tiers of marble, a lighter marble on the top, above the storefronts, and a darker marble on the bottom, flush with the storefronts. There is a pattern of zigzagging terrazzo tiles on the lobby floor, which leads from the entrance on the east to the aluminum relief on the west. [279] The chapel-like three-story-high lobby, which runs parallel to 33rd and 34th Streets, contains storefronts on both its northern and southern sides. [280] These storefronts are framed on each side by tubes of dark "modernistically rounded marble", according to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, and above by a vertical band of grooves set into the marble. [279] Immediately inside the lobby is an airport-style security checkpoint. [281] The side entrances from 33rd and 34th Street lead to two-story-high corridors around the elevator core, crossed by stainless steel and glass-enclosed bridges at the second floor. [253] [256]

The walls on both the northern and southern sides of the lobby house storefronts and escalators to a mezzanine level. [279] [h] At the west end of the lobby is an aluminum relief of the skyscraper as it was originally built (i.e. without the antenna). [282] The relief, which was intended to provide a welcoming effect, [283] contains an embossing of the building's outline, accompanied by what the Landmarks Preservation Commission describes as "the rays of an aluminum sun shining out behind [the building] and mingling with aluminum rays emanating from the spire of the Empire State Building". In the background is a state map of New York with the building's location marked by a "medallion" in the very southeast portion of the outline. A compass is located in the bottom right and a plaque to the building's major developers is on the bottom left. [284]

The plaque at the western end of the lobby is located on the eastern interior wall of a one-story tall rectangular-shaped corridor that surrounds the banks of escalators, with a similar design to the lobby. [285] The rectangular-shaped corridor actually consists of two long hallways on the northern and southern sides of the rectangle, [286] as well as a shorter hallway on the eastern side and another long hallway on the western side. [285] At both ends of the northern and southern corridors, there is a bank of four low-rise elevators in between the corridors. [207] The western side of the rectangular elevator-bank corridor extends north to the 34th Street entrance and south to the 33rd Street entrance. It borders three large storefronts and leads to escalators that go both to the second floor and to the basement. Going from west to east, there are secondary entrances to 34th and 33rd Streets from both the northern and southern corridors, respectively, at approximately the two-thirds point of each corridor. [279] [h]

Until the 1960s, an art deco mural, inspired by both the sky and the Machine Age, was installed in the lobby ceilings. [282] Subsequent damage to these murals, designed by artist Leif Neandross, resulted in reproductions being installed. Renovations to the lobby in 2009, such as replacing the clock over the information desk in the Fifth Avenue lobby with an anemometer and installing two chandeliers intended to be part of the building when it originally opened, revived much of its original grandeur. [229] The north corridor contained eight illuminated panels created in 1963 by Roy Sparkia and Renée Nemorov, in time for the 1964 World's Fair, depicting the building as the Eighth Wonder of the World alongside the traditional seven. [207] [287] The building's owners installed a series of paintings by the New York artist Kysa Johnson in the concourse level. Johnson later filed a federal lawsuit, in January 2014, under the Visual Artists Rights Act alleging the negligent destruction of the paintings and damage to her reputation as an artist. [288] As part of the building's 2010 renovation, Denise Amses commissioned a work consisting of 15,000 stars and 5,000 circles, superimposed on a 13-by-5-foot (4.0 by 1.5 m) etched-glass installation, in the lobby. [289]

Above the 102nd floor

The final stage of the building was the installation of a hollow mast, a 158-foot (48 m) steel shaft fitted with elevators and utilities, above the 86th floor. At the top would be a conical roof and the 102nd-floor docking station. [290] [143] Inside, the elevators would ascend 167 feet (51 m) from the 86th floor ticket offices to a 33-foot-wide (10 m) 101st-floor [g] waiting room. [160] [157] From there, stairs would lead to the 102nd floor, [g] where passengers would enter the airships. [290] The airships would have been moored to the spire at the equivalent of the building's 106th floor. [157] [158]

As constructed, the mast contains four rectangular tiers topped by a cylindrical shaft with a conical pinnacle. [143] On the 102nd floor (formerly the 101st floor), there is a door with stairs ascending to the 103rd floor (formerly the 102nd). [g] This was built as a disembarkation floor for airships tethered to the building's spire, and has a circular balcony outside. [13] It is now an access point to reach the spire for maintenance. The room now contains electrical equipment, but celebrities and dignitaries may also be given permission to take pictures there. [291] [292] Above the 103rd floor, there is a set of stairs and a ladder to reach the spire for maintenance work. [291] The mast's 480 windows were all replaced in 2015. [293] The mast serves as the base of the building's broadcasting antenna. [143]

Broadcast stations

Broadcasting began at the Empire State Building on December 22, 1931, when NBC and RCA began transmitting experimental television broadcasts from a small antenna erected atop the mast, with two separate transmitters for the visual and audio data. They leased the 85th floor and built a laboratory there. [155] In 1934, RCA was joined by Edwin Howard Armstrong in a cooperative venture to test his FM system from the building's antenna. [294] [295] This setup, which entailed the installation of the world's first FM transmitter, [295] continued only until October of the next year due to disputes between RCA and Armstrong. [155] [294] Specifically, NBC wanted to install more TV equipment in the room where Armstrong's transmitter was located. [295]

After some time, the 85th floor became home to RCA's New York television operations initially as experimental station W2XBS channel 1 then, from 1941, as commercial station WNBT channel 1 (now WNBC channel 4). NBC's FM station, W2XDG, began transmitting from the antenna in 1940. [155] [296] NBC retained exclusive use of the top of the building until 1950 when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ordered the exclusive deal be terminated. The FCC directive was based on consumer complaints that a common location was necessary for the seven extant New York-area television stations to transmit from so that receiving antennas would not have to be constantly adjusted. Other television broadcasters would later join RCA at the building on the 81st through 83rd floors, often along with sister FM stations. [155] Construction of a dedicated broadcast tower began on July 27, 1950, [171] with TV, and FM, transmissions starting in 1951. The 200-foot (61 m) broadcast tower was completed in 1953. [143] [43] [172] From 1951, six broadcasters agreed to pay a combined $600,000 per year for the use of the antenna. [174] In 1965, a separate set of FM antennae was constructed ringing the 103rd floor observation area to act as a master antenna. [155]

The placement of the stations in the Empire State Building became a major issue with the construction of the World Trade Center's Twin Towers in the late 1960s, and early 1970s. The greater height of the Twin Towers would reflect radio waves broadcast from the Empire State Building, eventually resulting in some broadcasters relocating to the newer towers instead of suing the developer, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. [297] Even though the nine stations who were broadcasting from the Empire State Building were leasing their broadcast space until 1984, most of these stations moved to the World Trade Center as soon as it was completed in 1971. The broadcasters obtained a court order stipulating that the Port Authority had to build a mast and transmission equipment in the North Tower, as well as pay the broadcasters' leases in the Empire State Building until 1984. [202] Only a few broadcasters renewed their leases in the Empire State Building. [298]

The September 11 attacks in 2001 destroyed the World Trade Center and the broadcast centers atop it, leaving most of the city's stations without a station for ten days until a temporary tower was built in Alpine, New Jersey. [299] By October 2001, nearly all of the city's commercial broadcast stations (both television and FM radio) were again transmitting from the top of the Empire State Building. In a report that Congress commissioned about the transition from analog television to digital television, it was stated that the placement of broadcast stations in the Empire State Building was considered "problematic" due to interference from nearby buildings. In comparison, the Congressional report stated that the former Twin Towers had very few buildings of comparable height nearby thus signals suffered little interference. [223] In 2003, a few FM stations were relocated to the nearby Condé Nast Building to reduce the number of broadcast stations using the Empire State Building. [300] Eleven television stations and twenty-two FM stations had signed 15-year leases in the building by May 2003. It was expected that a taller broadcast tower in Bayonne, New Jersey, or Governors Island, would be built in the meantime with the Empire State Building being used as a "backup" since signal transmissions from the building were generally of poorer quality. [301] Following the construction of One World Trade Center in the late 2000s and early 2010s, some TV stations began moving their transmitting facilities there. [302]

As of 2018 [update] , the Empire State Building is home to the following stations: [303]

Observation decks

The 80th, 86th, and 102nd floors contain observatories. [304] [282] [250] The latter two observatories saw a combined average of four million visitors per year in 2010. [105] [305] [306] Since opening, the observatories have been more popular than similar observatories at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the Chrysler Building, the first One World Trade Center, or the Woolworth Building, despite being more expensive. [305] There are variable charges to enter the observatories one ticket allows visitors to go as high as the 86th floor, and there is an additional charge to visit the 102nd floor. Other ticket options for visitors include scheduled access to view the sunrise from the observatory, a "premium" guided tour with VIP access, and the "AM/PM" package which allows for two visits in the same day. [307]

The 86th floor observatory contains both an enclosed viewing gallery and an open-air outdoor viewing area, allowing for it to remain open 365 days a year regardless of the weather. The 102nd floor observatory is completely enclosed and much smaller in size. The 102nd floor observatory was closed to the public from the late 1990s to 2005 due to limited viewing capacity and long lines. [308] [309] The observation decks were redesigned in mid-1979. [204] The 102nd floor was again redesigned in a project that was completed in 2019, allowing the windows to be extended from floor to ceiling and widening the space in the observatory overall. [246] [247] An observatory on the 80th floor, opened in 2019, includes various exhibits as well as a mural of the skyline drawn by British artist Stephen Wiltshire. [249] [250]

According to a 2010 report by, the five lines to enter the observation decks are "as legendary as the building itself". stated that there are five lines: the sidewalk line, the lobby elevator line, the ticket purchase line, the second elevator line, and the line to get off the elevator and onto the observation deck. [310] However, in 2016, New York City's official tourism website,, made note of only three lines: the security check line, the ticket purchase line, and the second elevator line. [311] Following renovations completed in 2019, designed to streamline queuing and reduce wait times, guests enter from a single entrance on 34th Street, where they make their way through 10,000-square-foot (930 m 2 ) exhibits on their way up to the observatories. Guests were offered a variety of ticket packages, including a package that enables them to skip the lines throughout the duration of their stay. [247] The Empire State Building garners significant revenue from ticket sales for its observation decks, making more money from ticket sales than it does from renting office space during some years. [305] [312]

New York Skyride

In early 1994, a motion simulator attraction was built on the 2nd floor, [313] as a complement to the observation deck. [314] The original cinematic presentation lasted approximately 25 minutes, while the simulation was about eight minutes. [315]

The ride had two incarnations. The original version, which ran from 1994 until around 2002, featured James Doohan, Star Trek's Scotty, as the airplane's pilot who humorously tried to keep the flight under control during a storm. [316] [317] After the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the ride was closed. [314] An updated version debuted in mid-2002, featuring actor Kevin Bacon as the pilot, with the new flight also going haywire. [318] This new version served a more informative goal, as opposed to the old version's main purpose of entertainment, and contained details about the 9/11 attacks. [319] The simulator received mixed reviews, with assessments of the ride ranging from "great" to "satisfactory" to "corny". [320]


The building was originally equipped with white searchlights at the top. They were first used in November 1932 when they lit up to signal Roosevelt's victory over Hoover in the presidential election of that year. [321] These were later swapped for four "Freedom Lights" in 1956. [321] In February 1964, flood lights were added on the 72nd floor [187] to illuminate the top of the building at night so that the building could be seen from the World Fair later that year. [188] The lights were shut off from November 1973 to July 1974 because of the energy crisis at the time. [32] In 1976, the businessman Douglas Leigh suggested that Wien and Helmsley install 204 metal-halide lights, which were four times as bright as the 1,000 incandescent lights they were to replace. [322] New red, white, and blue metal-halide lights were installed in time for the country's bicentennial that July. [32] [323] After the bicentennial, Helmsley retained the new lights due to the reduced maintenance cost, about $116 a year. [322]

Since 1976, the spire has been lit in colors chosen to match seasonal events and holidays. Organizations are allowed to make requests through the building's website. [324] The building is also lit in the colors of New York-based sports teams on nights when they host games: for example, orange, blue, and white for the New York Knicks red, white, and blue for the New York Rangers. [325] It was twice lit in scarlet to support New Jersey's Rutgers University, once for a football game against the University of Louisville on November 9, 2006, and again on April 3, 2007, when the women's basketball team played in the national championship game. [326] The spire can also be lit to commemorate occasions such as disasters, anniversaries, or deaths. For instance, in 1998, the building was lit in blue after the death of singer Frank Sinatra, who was nicknamed "Ol' Blue Eyes". [327] The structure was lit in red, white, and blue for several months after the destruction of the World Trade Center in September 2001. [328] On January 13, 2012, the building was lit in red, orange, and yellow to honor the 60th anniversary of NBC program The Today Show. [329] After retired basketball player Kobe Bryant's January 2020 death, the building was lit in purple and gold, signifying the colors of his former team, the Los Angeles Lakers. [330]

In 2012, the building's four hundred metal halide lamps and floodlights were replaced with 1,200 LED fixtures, increasing the available colors from nine to over 16 million. [331] The computer-controlled system allows the building to be illuminated in ways that were unable to be done previously with plastic gels. [332] For instance, on November 6, 2012, CNN used the top of the Empire State Building as a scoreboard for the 2012 United States presidential election. When incumbent president Barack Obama had reached the 270 electoral votes necessary to win re-election, the lights turned blue, representing the color of Obama's Democratic Party. Had Republican challenger Mitt Romney won, the building would have been lit red, the color of the Republican Party. [333] Also, on November 26, 2012, the building had its first synchronized light show, using music from recording artist Alicia Keys. [334] Artists such as Eminem and OneRepublic have been featured in later shows, including the building's annual Holiday Music-to-Lights Show. [335] The building's owners adhere to strict standards in using the lights for instance, they do not use the lights to play advertisements. [332]

The longest world record held by the Empire State Building was for the tallest skyscraper (to structural height), which it held for 42 years until it was surpassed by the North Tower of the World Trade Center in October 1970. [199] [221] [336] The Empire State Building was also the tallest man-made structure in the world before it was surpassed by the Griffin Television Tower Oklahoma (KWTV Mast) in 1954, [337] and the tallest freestanding structure in the world until the completion of the Ostankino Tower in 1967. [199] An early-1970s proposal to dismantle the spire and replace it with an additional 11 floors, which would have brought the building's height to 1,494 feet (455 m) and made it once again the world's tallest at the time, was considered but ultimately rejected. [338]

With the destruction of the World Trade Center in the September 11 attacks, the Empire State Building again became the tallest building in New York City, and the second-tallest building in the Americas, surpassed only by the Willis Tower in Chicago. The Empire State Building remained the tallest building in New York until the new One World Trade Center reached a greater height in April 2012. [199] [221] [222] [339] As of September 2020 [update] , it is the seventh-tallest building in New York City after One World Trade Center, 111 West 57th Street, Central Park Tower, One Vanderbilt, 432 Park Avenue, and 30 Hudson Yards. It is the fifth-tallest completed skyscraper in the United States behind the two other tallest buildings in New York City, as well as the Willis Tower and Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago. [340] The Empire State Building is the 49th-tallest in the world as of February 2021 [update] . [341] It is also the sixth-tallest freestanding structure in the Americas behind the five tallest buildings and the CN Tower. [342]

As of 2013 [update] , the building houses around 1,000 businesses. [343] Current tenants include:

  • The National Catholic Welfare Council (now Catholic Relief Services, located in Baltimore) [365] (now located at 56 Broadway) [366][348] (now located at 370 Lexington Avenue) [367][348] (now located at 1123 Broadway) [368][369][370] of the USA [371] (relocated to Washington, DC [372] )

1945 plane crash

At 9:40 am on July 28, 1945, a B-25 Mitchell bomber, piloted in thick fog by Lieutenant Colonel William Franklin Smith Jr., [373] crashed into the north side of the Empire State Building between the 79th and 80th floors where the offices of the National Catholic Welfare Council were located. [166] One engine completely penetrated the building, landing on the roof of a nearby building where it started a fire that destroyed a penthouse. [365] [374] The other engine and part of the landing gear plummeted down an elevator shaft causing a fire, which was extinguished in 40 minutes. Fourteen people were killed in the incident. [167] [70] Elevator operator Betty Lou Oliver survived a plunge of 75 stories inside an elevator, which still stands as the Guinness World Record for the longest survived elevator fall recorded. [375]

Despite the damage and loss of life, the building was open for business on many floors two days later. [167] [168] The crash helped spur the passage of the long-pending Federal Tort Claims Act of 1946, as well as the insertion of retroactive provisions into the law, allowing people to sue the government for the incident. [376] Also as a result of the crash, the Civil Aeronautics Administration enacted strict regulations regarding flying over New York City, setting a minimum flying altitude of 2,500 feet (760 m) above sea level regardless of the weather conditions. [377] [167]

A year later, on July 24, 1946, another aircraft narrowly missed striking the building. The unidentified twin-engine plane scraped past the observation deck, scaring the tourists there. [378]

2000 elevator plunge

On January 24, 2000, an elevator in the building suddenly descended 40 stories after a cable that controlled the cabin's maximum speed was severed. [379] The elevator fell from the 44th floor to the fourth floor, where a narrowed elevator shaft provided a second safety system. Despite the 40-floor fall, both of the passengers in the cabin at the time were only slightly injured. [380] Since that elevator had no fourth-floor doors, the passengers were rescued by an adjacent elevator. [381] After the fall, building inspectors reviewed all of the building's elevators. [380]

Suicide attempts

Because of the building's iconic status, it and other Midtown landmarks are popular locations for suicide attempts. [382] More than 30 people have attempted suicide over the years by jumping from the upper parts of the building, with most attempts being successful. [383] [384]

The first suicide from the building occurred on April 7, 1931, before it was even completed, when a carpenter who had been laid-off went to the 58th floor and jumped. [385] The first suicide after the building's opening occurred from the 86th floor observatory in February 1935, when Irma P. Eberhardt fell 1,029 feet (314 m) onto a marquee sign. [386] On December 16, 1943, William Lloyd Rambo jumped to his death from the 86th floor, landing amidst Christmas shoppers on the street below. [387] In the early morning of September 27, 1946, shell-shocked Marine Douglas W. Brashear Jr. jumped from the 76th-floor window of the Grant Advertising Agency police found his shoes 50 feet (15 m) from his body. [388]

On May 1, 1947, Evelyn McHale leapt to her death from the 86th floor observation deck and landed on a limousine parked at the curb. Photography student Robert Wiles took a photo of McHale's oddly intact corpse a few minutes after her death. The police found a suicide note among possessions that she left on the observation deck: "He is much better off without me. I wouldn't make a good wife for anybody". The photo ran in the May 12, 1947 edition of Life magazine [389] and is often referred to as "The Most Beautiful Suicide". It was later used by visual artist Andy Warhol in one of his prints entitled Suicide (Fallen Body). [390] A 7-foot (2.1 m) mesh fence was put up around the 86th floor terrace in December 1947 after five people tried to jump during a three-week span in October and November of that year. [391] [392] By then, sixteen people had died from suicide jumps. [391]

Only one person has jumped from the upper observatory. Frederick Eckert of Astoria ran past a guard in the enclosed 102nd-floor gallery on November 3, 1932, and jumped a gate leading to an outdoor catwalk intended for dirigible passengers. He landed and died on the roof of the 86th floor observation promenade. [393]

Two people have survived falls by not falling more than a floor. On December 2, 1979, Elvita Adams jumped from the 86th floor, only to be blown back onto a ledge on the 85th floor by a gust of wind and left with a broken hip. [394] [395] [396] On April 25, 2013, a man fell from the 86th floor observation deck, but he landed alive with minor injuries on an 85th-floor ledge where security guards brought him inside and paramedics transferred him to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. [397]


Two fatal shootings have occurred in the direct vicinity of the Empire State Building. Abu Kamal, a 69-year-old Palestinian teacher, shot seven people on the 86th floor observation deck during the afternoon of February 23, 1997. He killed one person and wounded six others before committing suicide. [398] Kamal reportedly committed the shooting in response to events happening in Palestine and Israel. [399]

On the morning of August 24, 2012, 58-year-old Jeffrey T. Johnson shot and killed a former co-worker on the building's Fifth Avenue sidewalk. He had been laid off from his job in 2011. Two police officers confronted the gunman, and he aimed his firearm at them. They responded by firing 16 shots, killing him but also wounding nine bystanders. Most of the injured were hit by bullet fragments, although three took direct hits from bullets. [12] [400]

As the tallest building in the world and the first one to exceed 100 floors, the Empire State Building immediately became an icon of the city and of the nation. [126] [135] [203] In 2013, Time magazine noted that the Empire State Building "seems to completely embody the city it has become synonymous with". [401] The historian John Tauranac called it "'the' twentieth-century New York building", despite the existence of taller and more modernist buildings. [402]

Early architectural critics also focused on the Empire State Building's exterior ornamentation. [38] Architectural critic Talbot Hamlin wrote in 1931, "That it is the world's tallest building is purely incidental." [403] George Shepard Chappell, writing in The New Yorker under the pseudonym "T-Square", wrote the same year that the Empire State Building had a "palpably enormous" appeal to the general public, and that "its difference and distinction [lay] in the extreme sensitiveness of its entire design". [38] [404] However, architectural critics also wrote negatively of the mast, especially in light of its failure to become a real air terminal. Chappell called the mast "a silly gesture" and Lewis Mumford called it "a public comfort station for migratory birds". [38] Nevertheless, architecture critic Douglas Haskell said the Empire State Building's appeal came from the fact that it was "caught at the exact moment of transition—caught between metal and stone, between the idea of 'monumental mass' and that of airy volume, between handicraft and machine design, and in the swing from what was essentially handicraft to what will be essentially industrial methods of fabrication." [405] [406]

Status as an icon

Early in the building's history, travel companies such as Short Line Motor Coach Service and New York Central Railroad used the building as an icon to symbolize the city. [407] After the construction of the first World Trade Center, architect Paul Goldberger noted that the Empire State Building "is famous for being tall, but it is good enough to be famous for being good." [204]

As an icon of the United States, it is also very popular among Americans. In a 2007 survey, the American Institute of Architects found that the Empire State Building was "America's favorite building". [408] The building was originally a symbol of hope in a country devastated by the Depression, as well as a work of accomplishment by newer immigrants. [126] The writer Benjamin Flowers states that the Empire State was "a building intended to celebrate a new America, built by men (both clients and construction workers) who were themselves new Americans." [121] The architectural critic Jonathan Glancey refers to the building as an "icon of American design". [343]

The Empire State Building has been hailed as an example of a "wonder of the world" due to the massive effort expended during construction. The Washington Star listed it as part of one of the "seven wonders of the modern world" in 1931, while Holiday magazine wrote in 1958 that the Empire State's height would be taller than the combined heights of the Eiffel Tower and the Great Pyramid of Giza. [402] The American Society of Civil Engineers also declared the building "A Modern Civil Engineering Wonder of the United States" in 1958, and one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World in 1994. [182] Ron Miller, in a 2010 book, also described the Empire State Building as one of the "seven wonders of engineering". [409] It has often been called the Eighth Wonder of the World as well, an appellation that it has held since shortly after opening. [69] [164] [410] The panels installed in the lobby in 1963 reflected this, showing the seven original wonders alongside the Empire State Building. [287] The Empire State Building also became the standard of reference to describe the height and length of other structures globally, both natural and man-made. [411]

In popular culture

As an icon of New York City, the Empire State Building has been featured in various films, books, TV shows, and video games. According to the building's official website, more than 250 movies contain depictions of the Empire State Building. [412] In his book about the building, John Tauranac writes that its first documented appearance in popular culture was Swiss Family Manhattan, a 1932 children's story by Christopher Morley. [413] A year later, the film King Kong depicted Kong, a large stop motion ape that climbs the Empire State Building, [137] [138] [281] bringing the building into the popular imagination. [281] Later movies such as An Affair to Remember (1957), Sleepless in Seattle (1993), and Independence Day (1996) also featured the building. [414] [412] The building has also been featured in other works, such as "Daleks in Manhattan", a 2007 episode of the TV series Doctor Who [414] and Empire, an eight-hour black-and-white silent film by Andy Warhol, [414] which was later added to the Library of Congress's National Film Registry. [415]

Empire State Building Run-Up

The Empire State Building Run-Up, a foot race from ground level to the 86th-floor observation deck, has been held annually since 1978. Its participants are referred to both as runners and as climbers, and are often tower running enthusiasts. The race covers a vertical distance of 1,050 ft (320 m) and takes in 1,576 steps. The record time is 9 minutes and 33 seconds, achieved by Australian professional cyclist Paul Crake in 2003, at a climbing rate of 6,593 ft (2,010 m) per hour. [416] [417]


Opening and early years of the Waldorf Edit

In 1799, John Thompson bought a 20-acre (8 ha) tract of land roughly bounded by Madison Avenue, 36th Street, Sixth Avenue, and 33rd Street, immediately north of the Caspar Samler farm, for (US$2400) £482 10s. [1] In 1826, John Jacob Astor purchased Thompson's parcel, as well as one from Mary and John Murray who owned a farm on Murray Hill, in the area which is now Madison Avenue to Lexington Avenue, between 34th and 38th streets. [2] [a] In 1827, William B. Astor, Sr. bought a half interest, including Fifth Avenue from 32nd to 35th streets, for $20,500. He built an unpretentious square red brick house on the southwest corner of 34th Street and Fifth Avenue, while John Jacob Astor erected a home at the northwest corner of 33rd Street. [4]

William Astor, motivated in part by a dispute with his aunt Caroline Webster Schermerhorn Astor, built the Waldorf Hotel next door to her house, on the site of his father's mansion at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 33rd Street. [b] His father was the millionaire developer, William Waldorf Astor. [4] [6] [c] The hotel was built to the specifications of founding proprietor George Boldt, who owned and operated the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel, an elite boutique hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with his wife Louisa Augusta Kehrer Boldt (1860-1904). The original plans for the Waldorf were for a hotel with 11 stories. Boldt's wife, Louise, believed that 13 was a lucky number. She persuaded her husband to add two floors to the construction. [10] [d] William Astor's construction of a hotel next to his aunt's house worsened his feud with her, but, with Boldt's assistance, John Astor persuaded his mother to move uptown. [11] [e] The Waldorf Hotel, named after the little town of Walldorf, in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, the Astors’ ancestral home, was opened for business March 13, 1893. [13]

Early on, the Waldorf was a laughing stock with its large number of bathrooms and was known briefly as "Boldt's Folly" after Boldt, or "Astor's Folly", [14] with the general perception of the palatial hotel being that it had no place in New York City. [15] It appeared destined for failure. Wealthy New Yorkers were angry because they viewed the construction of the hotel as the ruination of a good neighborhood. Business travelers found it too expensive and too far uptown for their needs. In the face of all of this, Boldt decided that the hotel would host a benefit concert for St. Mary's Hospital for Children the day after the Waldorf opened. [13] The hospital was the favorite charity of those on the Social Register. Despite rain the night of the ball, the ballroom filled with many of New York's First Families, who had paid $5.00 ($141 in 2017) for the concert and dinner. [16] [f] Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt donated the services of the New York Symphony Orchestra led by Walter Damrosch to provide the music for the event. [16] Even with proper escort, women of the times generally did not venture into hotels, but those attending also toured the facilities. [18] While Boldt made news by insisting the Waldorf's waiters be clean-shaven even though he wore a beard, his decision to hire young Oscar Tschirky was one of the key factors in the hotel's success. [19] [g] Oscar was personable, humble and very willing to tend to patrons' needs on an individual basis. [18] More than thirty years later, Tschirky was able to recall the Waldorf's opening day and the names of many of the Social Register guests who made the hotel successful when it hosted the charity concert and dinner. [20] [21] Business soon picked up and the hotel earned $4.5 million ($126 million in 2017) in its first year, exorbitant for that period. [22] By 1895, the Waldorf added a five-story addition. This brought the hotel's ballroom down to the main floor the move brought many parties and dinners which were formerly held in private homes, into the Waldorf. Adjacent to the new ballroom was the Oak Room, where one could sit by large fireplaces where there were always logs on the hearth. In winter, waiters would offer patrons complimentary baked potatoes with butter. [23]

Opening of the Astoria and consolidation Edit

When a decision was made to build a second hotel next to the Waldorf, truce provisions were developed between the Astors which reserved some proprietary rights. The plan design used corridors to join the two buildings and there was even a bond provision for bricking up the corridors should the need arise. [24] On November 1, 1897, Waldorf's cousin, John Jacob Astor IV, opened the 16 story Astoria Hotel on an adjacent site. [6] [25] The Astoria, named after Astoria, Oregon which was founded by John Jacob Astor in 1811, stood on the site of William B. Astor's house, and was leased to Boldt. [26] [6]

The two hotels, under one management, were renamed the Waldorf–Astoria. [27] [28] Situated on Fifth Avenue in what is now Midtown Manhattan, it was surrounded by streets on all sides. The Waldorf–Astoria had a frontage of 200 feet (61 m) on Fifth Avenue, 350 feet (110 m) on 33rd Street, 350 feet (110 m) on 34th Street, and 200 feet (61 m) on Astor Court, with 13 entrances opening directly from these thoroughfares. Below, extending to a depth 42 feet (13 m) beneath the sidewalk, and occupying an additional area of 75 by 242 feet (23 m × 74 m) running toward Broadway, were the basements, which contained the engine room, laundries, and kitchens. From the sidewalk to the observatory roof was a height of 250 feet (76 m). [29] It was the largest hotel in the world at the time. [30] [31] The cost of the two buildings, exclusive of the furnishings but including the land, was about $15 million ($422 million in 2017). [32] The assessed value in 1897 was $12.125 million ($341 million in 2017) making it the next most valuable parcel on Fifth Avenue, after the B. Altman and Company Building site. [33] The hotel became, according to author Sean Dennis Cashman, "a successful symbol of the opulence and achievement of the Astor family". [34]

The hotel faced stiff competition from the early 20th century, with a range of new hotels springing up in New York City such the Hotel Astor (1904), perceived as a successor to the Waldorf-Astoria The St. Regis (1904), built by John Jacob Astor IV as a companion to the Waldorf-Astoria The Knickerbocker (1906), and the Savoy-Plaza Hotel (1927). [35] By the 1920s, the hotel was becoming dated, and the elegant social life of New York had moved much farther north than 34th Street. The Astor family sold the hotel to the developers of the Empire State Building and closed the hotel on May 3, 1929 it was demolished soon afterwards. [6] The Waldorf–Astoria Hotel records of 1893–1929 are held by the New York Public Library's Archives & Manuscripts division. [36]

From its inception, the Waldorf was always a "must stay" hotel for foreign dignitaries. The viceroy of China, Li Hung-Chang stayed at the hotel in 1896 and feasted on 100-year-old eggs which he brought with him. [37] Mr. Li also brought his own stoves, chefs and servants with him to prepare and serve his meals. Upon his departure from the Waldorf, he ordered a basket of roses to be sent to every female guest at the hotel, and was very generous in the gifts and gratuities he provided for the hotel's staff. [38] In 1902, a lavish dinner was organized for Prince Henry of Prussia in addition, the hotel built a private door on its 33rd Street side and installed a private elevator. The staff was also called upon to form a "bucket brigade" for the prince's bath when there was a problem with the plumbing in the royal suite. [39] [40] One early wealthy resident was Chicago businessman J. W. Gates who would gamble on stocks on Wall Street and play poker at the hotel. He paid up to $50,000 a year to hire suites at the hotel, where he had his own private entrance and elevator. [41] [42] Grand Duchess Viktoria Feodorovna of Russia was invited by Waldorf president Lucius Bloomer to stay at the hotel in the 1920s. [43]

The Waldorf–Astoria gained significant renown for its fundraising dinners and balls, regularly attracting notables of the day such as Andrew Carnegie who became a fixture. [44] Banquets were often held in the ballroom for esteemed figures and international royalty. On February 11, 1899, Oscar of the Waldorf hosted a lavish dinner reception which the New York Herald Tribune cited as the city's costliest dinner at the time. Some $250 ($7,620.00 in 2017) was spent per guest, with bluepoint oysters, green turtle soup, lobster, ruddy duck and blue raspberries. [45] Two months later, 120 sailors of the cruiser Raleigh were given a banquet, during which the gallery was decorated with silk banners and flags. [46] One article that year claimed that at any one time the hotel had $7 million ($213 million in 2017) worth of valuables locked in the safe, testament to the wealth of its guests. [47] In 1909, banquets, attended by hundreds, were organized for Arctic explorer Frederick Cook in September and Elbert Henry Gary, a founder of US Steel, the following month. [48] [49]

The hotel was also influential in advancing the status of women, who were admitted singly without escorts. Boldt's wife, Louise, was influential in evolving the idea of the grand urban hotel as a social center, particularly in making it appealing to women as a venue for social events, or just to be seen in the Peacock Alley. [37] The combined hotel was the first to do away with a ladies-only parlor and provided women with a place to play billiards and ping-pong. It was the first New York hotel to allocate an entire room for afternoon tea. The teas began in the Waldorf Garden with attendance eventually being so large, both the Empire Room and at times, the Rose Room, had to be opened during the hours of four and six pm to accommodate the number of guests. Men were admitted to the teas only if they were in the company of a woman. [50]

The United States Senate inquiry into the sinking of the RMS Titanic was opened at the hotel on April 19, 1912 and continued there for some time in the Myrtle Room, [51] before moving on to Washington, D.C. [52] John Jacob Astor IV was one of the people who perished on its ill-fated journey.

The Waldorf–Astoria Orchestra included several conductors over the years. In the early 1900's, it was under the direction of Carlo Curti, [53] who spent his career between the United States and Mexico. Later he was replaced by Joseph Knecht, who was formerly assistant concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera House. Consisting of fifty musicians, it was maintained by Boldt at an annual expense of $100,000. The orchestra performed regular Sunday night concerts in the grand ballroom. [54]

The Waldorf–Astoria Bar was a favorite haunt of many of the financial elite of the city from the hotel's inception in 1893, and colorful characters who adopted the venue such as Diamond Jim Brady, Buffalo Bill Cody and Bat Masterson. [55] A number of cocktails were invented at the bar, including the Rob Roy (1894) and the Bobbie Burns. [56] [h]

On the exterior, the two and three lower stories in the respective buildings were of red sandstone, while the balance of the work to the roof-line was red brick and red terracotta. The building rested on solid rock and contained a fireproof steel frame. [32] The first and second floors contained public spaces. [24]

The combined hotel, after merging in 1897, had 1,300 bedrooms and 178 bathrooms, making it the largest hotel in the world at the time. [32] [58] With a telephone in every room and first-class room service, the hotel featured numerous Turkish and Russian baths for the gentlemen of the day to relax in. [56] [58] Many of the floors were arranged as separate hotels to further the comfort of the guests. Each of these floors had its own team of assistants—clerks, maids, page boys, waiters—as well as telephone and dumbwaiter service, and refrigerators. [59] The bedrooms and corridors were heated by direct radiation. [32] The family included a stained glass picture of Walldorf in the design of the hotel it was located on the 33rd Street side over the main entrance to the South Palm Garden. [60]

Waldorf Hotel Edit

The Waldorf Hotel, built at a reported cost of about $5 million ($141 million in 2017), opened on March 13, 1893 at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 33rd Street, on the site where millionaire developer William Waldorf Astor had previously built his mansion. [4] [6] The hotel stood 225 feet (69 m) high, about 50 feet (15 m) lower than the Astoria, with a frontage of about 100 feet (30 m) on Fifth Avenue, and a total area of 69,475 square feet (6,454.4 m 2 ). [61] It was a German Renaissance structure, designed by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh, with 15 public rooms and 450 guest rooms, and a further 100 rooms allocated to servants, with laundry facilities on the upper floors. [62] [63] The New York Times proclaimed the hotel a palace after it opened in 1893. [64]

The exterior featured loggias, balconies, gables, groups of chimneys, and tiled roofs. [65] One of the chief features was the interior garden court, with fountains and flowers, walls of white terracotta, frescoes and stained glass. The main entrance to the hotel was "sheltered by an elaborate frosted-glass-and-wrought-iron marquee", and the entrance hall was built in Sienna marble, with a mosaic title floor and a coffered ceiling. [63] The original reception desk of the Waldorf Hotel became a registration desk when it merged with the Astoria Hotel in 1897. [63]

Beyond the lobby was the main corridor leading to the Empire Room, with an alcove containing elevators and a grand staircase. Near this was the Marie Antoinette parlor, which was used as a reception room for women. It contained 18th century antiques brought back by Boldt and his wife from an 1892 visit to Europe, including a bust of Marie Antoinette, and an antique clock which was once owned by the queen. The ceiling featured frescoes by Will Hicok Low, the central of which was called The Birth of Venus. [66] The Gentleman's Cafe was furnished with "robust black oak paneling, hunting murals, and stag-horn chandaliers". [67]

The Empire Room was the largest and most lavishly adorned room in the Waldorf, and soon after opening it became one of the best restaurants in New York City, rivaling Delmonico's and Sherry's. [68] It was modelled after the grand salon in King Ludwig's palace at Munich, with satin hangings, upholstery and marble pillars, all of pale green, and Crowninshield's frescoes. [69] Empire in style, the Waldorf's restaurant featured feathered columns of dark-green marble, and the pilasters that were opposite were of mahogany, with ormolu work in the panels. [32] The caps and bases of both columns and pilasters were gilded. This treatment occupied most of the wall space. The ceiling was divided by heavy beams running from column to column, and between these the flat space was divided into oval and other shaped panels with light mouldings. [32] The color scheme was in tints of pale-green and cream. The panels of the ceiling were frescoed with figures in pinkish-red on a blue sky or field. The walls were principally mahogany and gold, with a little color in the comparatively small wall-spaces left between openings. [70] Among the other rooms were the Turkish smoking room, with low divans and ancient Moorish armor, and the ballroom, in white and gold, with Louis XIV decorations. [62]

The Waldorf State Apartments, consisting of nine suites, were located on the second floor. The apartments, including the Henry IV Drawing Room, featured 16th and 17th century French and Italian antiques which Boldt and his wife had brought back from Europe. [70] Francois V Bedroom was a reproduction of the room at the Palais de Fontainebleau, and over the years was occupied by the likes of Li Hung-Chang of China, Chowfa Maha Rajiravuth, Prince of Siam, and Albert of Saxe-Coburg. [71] The apartments had their own music room and a banquet hall to seat 20, with a handsome china collection including 48 Sevres plates with European portraits. [72] There were about 6,000 lights in the hotel, with as many as 1,000 small candelabra lamps mounted in specially designed fixtures. [73] The electric fixtures were all furnished by the Archer & Pancoast Manufacturing Company, of New York, while the contract for the general installation work was carried out by the Edison Electric Illuminating Company, of New York, the actual work of wiring being done by the Eastern District of the General Electric Company. The building was wired throughout on the system of the Interior Conduit and Insulation Company. [73]

Astoria Hotel Edit

The Astoria Hotel, opened in 1897, was situated on the southeast corner of Fifth Avenue and 34th Street. Like the Waldorf, it was designed in the German Renaissance style by Henry J. Hardenbergh, the same architect who designed the Waldorf. [6] [65] With dimensions of 99 by 350 feet (30 m × 107 m), its height, from the floor of the sub-basement, which was 33 feet (10 m) below the street level, to the roof-line, was about 270 feet (82 m), or about 240 feet (73 m) above the street-level. It was 16 stories in height, including the four stories in the roof. [32] The building was constructed of stone, marble and brick, with a steel skeleton frame and modern fireproof interior construction, and was embellished with "French Second Empire Mansard-roofed towers with iron-work cresting as well as Austrian Baroque onion-domes over corners turrets". [58] [65] There were 25 public rooms and 550 guest rooms, with miles of corridors, vestibules and balls. [65] The entrance featured a double set of plate glass doors to give protection in cold weather, and a U-shaped driveway for horse and carriages. [74]

The main corridor was nicknamed "Peacock Alley" by the New York press. [75] The corridor and foyer were treated with pilasters and columns of Sienna marble and a color scheme on the walls and ceilings of salmon-pink, with cream-color and pale-green. The capitals of the columns and pilasters were gilded of solid brass or lacquered. The main corridor ran the entire length of the building from east to west. [i] To the left of it was the Astor Dining Room, fronting on Fifth Avenue, which measured 50 by 92 feet (15 m × 28 m). Great care was taken with it to faithfully reproduce the original dining room of the mansion, three floors above where the original dining room had stood, [77] including all of the original dining room's paneling, carpeting, drapery and fireplace mantel Italian Renaissance pilasters and columns, carved of marble from northern Russia. The panels of silk hangings were of rose pompadour, and a series of Charles Yardley Turner mural paintings filled arches and panels at the south end of the room. [65] [j] On the right of the main corridor was the Garden Court of Palms, 88 by 57 feet (27 m × 17 m), rising three stories to a dome-like roof of amber glass 56 feet (17 m) above the floor. This, too, was used as a dining room. It was decorated in the Italian style, finished in gray, terracotta and Pavonazzo marble. [65] On the 34th Street side of the corridor was the cafe, 40 by 95 feet (12 m × 29 m), finished in English oak in the style of the German Renaissance, with Flemish decoration. The bar formed another room 40 by 50 feet (12 m × 15 m). [65]

On the first floor, at the head-of the east main staircase, was the Astor Gallery, 87 by 102 feet (27 m × 31 m), looking out on 34th Street. The gallery, with seven French windows reaching 26 feet (7.9 m) from floor to ceiling, opened onto a terrace over the entrance to the hotel. The interior was finished in the style of the Hôtel de Soubise, with a blue, gray and gold color scheme. There was a parquet floor, and on the south side, opposite the street windows, were other windows which opened into the main corridor on the second floor. The musicians' balcony, upheld by two caryatids, was at the east end. All the balcony railings were of gilded metal work. The mural paintings were notable: four panels, two at either end of the room, and twelve pendentive panels, six on either side and painted by Edward Simmons depicted the four seasons and the twelve months of the year. [65] The "Colonial Room" was decorated in red, contrasting with white woodwork. [32] The second floor contained a private suite of apartments at the northeast corner, with large drawing rooms, dining room, butler's pantry, hallway, three bedrooms, three maids' bedrooms and five bathrooms, all finished in old English oak. All the floors above the third were given up to suites and bedrooms up to the 14th floor. There was a bath for nearly every room, and every bathroom had windows opening to the air, not into shafts. In every room, there was a large trunk closet. [79]

The ballroom, in the Louis XIV style, has been described as the "pièce de résistance" of the hotel, measuring 65 feet (20 m) by 95 feet (29 m) and 40 feet (12 m) (three stories) in height. [58] It had a capacity to seat 700 at banquets and 1,200 at concerts, and featured tints of ivory-gray and cream in its design. [32] Noted vocalists such as Enrico Caruso and Nellie Melba performed in the ballroom, with conductor Anton Seidl leading a series of concerts there in the year the combined hotels opened for business. It was possible to buy season tickets for the musical offerings a box for a season was US$350 and a seat for a season on the ballroom floor was priced at US$60. [80]

On the hotel's top floor was the roof-garden, enclosed on all sides by glass, with a glass roof over. It was furnished with rattan chairs and lounges in pale-green and pink, hung across with gauzy fabric. [32] On the roof on the 34th Street side was the grand promenade, 90 by 200 feet (27 m × 61 m), on solid footing high in the air, with a band stand, fountains, and trellises of columns. The roof garden restaurant occupied a space 75 by 84 feet (23 m × 26 m), and was roofed in. The ceiling was 24 feet (7.3 m) high. At the northeast and northwest corners of the roof garden were towers, with spiral stairways within, leading up to the copper covered roofs of the pavilions, which were 250 feet (76 m) above the sidewalk. [65] The palm gardens, used as cafes, rose to a height of two and three stories respectively and were roofed-over with domes of tinted glass. Balconies at the various floor levels opened on to these courts to overlook them. The materials used were cream-colored brick and terracotta, and were Italian Renaissance in style. [32]

In the sub-basement were the Sprague screw machines for the electric elevators, the fire pumps, the house pumps, the ice plant, and the six Babcock & Wilcox water tube boilers. The elevator system, which served the house from subbasement to roof, was electric, taking its power from the generating plant within the building. There were 18 elevators. [65] The machinery was located in the sub-basement. The boilers aggregated about 3,000 horse power, the electric generators taking 2,200 horse-power of the total energy. The elevators were run by it, as were the 15,000 incandescent lamps, branching from 7,500 outlets. [32] The system of heating and ventilating the public rooms was that of forced draught by means of powerful blowers situated in the sub-basement that forced the fresh air between steam-coils, where it became moderately heated before entering the ducts that lead it to the various rooms. This heat was further augmented by direct radiators placed behind screens in the recesses of the windows and elsewhere. [32]

William Waldorf Astor (1848–1919) was a wealthy American attorney, politician, businessman, and newspaper publisher of the Astor family. He was the only child of financier/philanthropist John Jacob Astor III (1822–1890) and Charlotte Augusta Gibbes (1825–1887). Described as being a "very prickly sort of person", he had a background in Europe and earned wealth buying and selling country estates in England including Cliveden and Hever Castle. [81] In his early adult years, Astor returned to the United States and began studies at Columbia Law School. He was called to the United States Bar in 1875. [82] He worked for a short time in law practice and in the management of his father's estate of financial and real estate holdings. On his death in 1919, he was reputed to have been worth £200 million, which he left in trust for his two sons Waldorf and John Jacob. His half share of the Waldorf Astoria and the Astor Hotel at the time were reported to have been worth £10 million. [83]

George Boldt (1851–1916), the founding proprietor, was a Prussian-born American hotelier and self-made millionaire who influenced the development of the urban hotel as a civic social center and luxury destination. His motto was "the guest is always right", [84] and he became a wealthy and prominent figure internationally. The hotel was built to his specifications. He served as president and director of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel Company, as well as the Waldorf–Astoria Segar Company and the Waldorf Importation Company. [85] He also owned and operated the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel, an elite boutique hotel on Broad Street in Philadelphia, with his wife, Louise. Boldt was described as "Mild mannered, undignified, unassuming", resembling "a typical German professor with his close-cropped beard which he kept fastidiously trimmed. and his pince-nez glasses on a black silk cord". [22] Boldt retained his contacts with the European elite and he and his wife made frequent trips to Europe, bringing back with them many antiques, a characteristic of the Waldorf Astoria. Boldt continued to own the Bellevue even after his relationship with the Astors blossomed. [84]

Lucius M. Boomer (1878–1947) was an American hotelier and businessman, responsible for the general management of the hotel for many years. [86] Physically impressive and brassy, he displayed total dedication to his job and great discipline and care towards his staff, becoming one of the most famous hoteliers of his time. [86] Boomer became interested in the hotel after the death of Boldt in 1916 and purchased it, before buying the Bellevue-Stratford two years later. Following the retirement of Louis Sherry in 1920, he became directing head of the Louis Sherry Ice Cream and Chocolate Company, and was later president of restaurant chain Savarin, Inc. [87] Boomer was primarily responsible for the decision to demolish the hotel and build the new one on Park Avenue in 1931. He continued to manage the hotel until his death in Norway in July 1947. [87]

Henry J. Hardenbergh (1847–1918) was an American architect who designed both hotels in the German Renaissance style. Apprenticed in New York from 1865 to 1870 under Detlef Lienau, in 1870, opened his own practice there. He obtained his first contracts for three buildings at Rutgers College in New Brunswick, New Jersey—the expansion of Alexander Johnston Hall (1871), designing and building Geology Hall (1872) and the Kirkpatrick Chapel (1873)—through family connections. Hardenbergh designed the Dakota Apartments in 1884, and after building the Waldorf he went on to have an illustrious career as "America's premiere architect of grand hotels", designing the Manhattan Hotel (1896), the Plaza Hotel (1907), the Martinique Hotel (1911) and numerous other hotels in cities such as Boston and Washington, D.C. [74]

Louis Sherry (1855–1926) was an American restaurateur, caterer, confectioner and hotelier during the Gilded Age and early 20th century, who was of considerable renown in the business. His name is typically associated with an upscale brand of candy and ice cream, and The Sherry-Netherland hotel in New York City. In 1919, Sherry announced an "alliance" with the Waldorf–Astoria that involved both his candies and catering services. [88] Although it was not disclosed at that time, at some point ownership of Louis Sherry Inc. was significantly vested in "Boomer-duPont interests", a reference to Lucius M. Boomer, then chairman of the Waldorf–Astoria, and T. Coleman du Pont. [88]

Oscar Tschirky (1866–1950), known as "Oscar of the Waldorf", was a Swiss chef, maître d'hôtel from the hotel's inauguration in 1893 until his retirement in 1943. Tschirky had arrived in the United States from Switzerland ten years prior to applying for the position at the new Waldorf and over the years grew to possess an encyclopedic-like knowledge of cuisine and the special trimmings and preferences that the regular diners desired. [89] He authored The Cookbook by Oscar of The Waldorf (1896), a 900-page book featuring all of the recipes of the day, including his own, such as Waldorf salad, Eggs Benedict and Thousand Island dressing, [89] which remain popular worldwide today. James Remington McCarthy wrote in his book Peacock Alley that Oscar gained renown among the general public as an artist who "composed sonatas in soups, symphonies in salads, minuets in sauces, lyrics in entrees". [89] In 1902 Tschirky published Serving a Course Dinner by Oscar of the Waldorf–Astoria, a booklet which explains the intricacies of being a caterer to the American and international elite. [89] Tschirky continued to work for the Waldorf Astoria after the original hotel was demolished until his retirement in 1943. [89]

Landlords are getting into the swing with golf amenities

Priceline’s Asian-focused travel site, Agoda, is expanding to a full floor at the Empire State Building.

Agoda is currently on 7,600 square feet on the 47th floor and will be moving up and expanding to the entire 27,000- square-foot 66th floor.

Deborah van der Heyden, Paul Ferraro and Matt Livingston of JLL represented Agoda in the 10-year deal. Fred Posniak and Shanae Ursini of the Empire State Realty Trust along with Paul Glickman, Jonathan Fanuzzi, Simon Landmann, Kip Orban and Harley Dalton of JLL represented ownership. The asking rent was $72 per square foot.

Founded in 2005, Agoda became part of Priceline in 2007. It now has roughly 3,500 people speaking 40 languages in 30 offices around the world to help people book 1 million accommodations a year.

The ESB has also begun a $120 million capital plan to improve its Urban Campus experience for tenants, retailers and tourists.

Owner ESRT just announced it will create a new designated entrance to its own observatory in former retail space at the far western end of the building. In the first half of 2017, the observatory, the most visited in NYC, took in $54.9 million from 1,762,000 visitors or just over $31 per entry, its new financial filings reveal.

What will the ‘new normal’ for NYC’s tourist hotspots and stores look like?

Open-air markets, long lines and Facetiming with sales assistants could all be part of New York’s new normal, experts say.

Manuel Mansylla, co-founder and principal of Totem , who helps businesses repurpose public spaces in front of their shops, predicts the future will be centered around outside activities and, unfortunately, long lines to get into stores and restaurants that’ll only be allowed to open with reduced occupancy.

“Sidewalks are either going to be really boring … which is going to make [waiting in line] feel like going through security at the airport, which is hell. Or, is there going to be a fun version of this so it’s going to feel more like Disney Land and that means a lot of design is going to have to come into this,” Mansylla told The Post.

He envisions retailers using already existing infrastructure like barriers outside of their shops to set up small tables or sidewalk art galleries to encourage people to stay in line and make the process easier to bear.

Mansylla also expects a new emphasis on infrastructure for outdoor markets and creating “single-serve public spaces” with seperate “nooks and crannies” for people to sit and relax.

“You’re going to see more and more ways to start to fragment public spaces whether it’s from markers or dividers, so you’re signaling to people this is how far apart you should be,” Mansylla said.

Anthony E. Malkin, the CEO of Empire State Realty Trust, said the organization is planning to limit occupancy to the Empire State Building’s observatories, and will require temperature checks, face masks and hand sanitizing before visitors are allowed to enter.

Atmosphere at observatory on 86th floor of The Empire State Building. Getty Images

“The observatory has an entirely separate entrance from the office building, so the observatory visitors do not mix with the office tenants or visitors,” Malkin told The Post.

“Visitors don’t have to touch anything, other than the door to get in. They don’t have to push an elevator button. Similarly we will control occupancy in the elevators. We will have personal protection equipment for all the attendees in the observatory.”

Hotels will take a similar approach, Dandapani said.

“If a guest walks in without a mask, every hotel is going to make sure there is a mask available,” Dandapani said, adding branded masks could be part of the new normal.

“Certainly the idea is to not make it look like a hospital.”

He said hotels will focus on initiatives they’ve already created — like self-check in using smartphones — so guests can go straight to their room without having to be in contact with anyone.

On the plus side: “You’re going to have bargain city, so tell all your friends you’re going to get rates you’ve never seen before,” the hotel boss quipped.

Jim Easley, the senior general manager of the Staten Island mall, said there’ll be a host of changes once it is allowed to reopen — including hand-sanitizing stations at each entrance, propped-open doors and fewer tables in the food courts.

“There will be stickers on the floor to promote social distancing to show what six feet apart looks like. We’ll have furniture moved around, if you sit down and decide to relax while you’re here you’ll be six feet away from the next person,” Easley said.

Mall officials are still figuring out if they’ll be able to move forward with scheduled events, like a July carnival, but are already thinking about ideas as far ahead as December, which include a roving Santa Claus.

A janitor walks through Brookfield Plaza, a shopping mall in Manhattans Financial District. Getty Images

Joseph Ferrara, the developer of Staten Island’s Empire Outlets, is counting on a new-found appreciation for shopping hub because the outlets — positioned along the New York Harbor — will be conveniently accessible from the Staten Island Ferry.

“I think a lot of people are going to jump on that boat, they’re going to come over for a day trip, get out of their apartment and into an outdoor environment,” Ferrara said.

He said he’s toying with the idea of virtual shopping, where customers can Facetime with someone inside the store and check out the inventory before coming in to pick up merchandise, along with other ways to make the in-person shopping experience safer.

“When a customer tries on a product they’ll be setting it off to the side and spraying it down with a cleaning agent, so it’s safe to re-rack that product,” Ferrara said.

“Tenants that we’ve had discussions with, currently they’ll be having markers on the floor, they’ll be removing their public restrooms … and limiting the number of changing rooms.”

Watch the video: Construction of the Empire State Building (January 2022).