By the time President Herbert Hoover officially opened the building in 1931 – switching on its lights by pressing a button in Washington 200 miles away – construction of the 102-storey, 381-metre building had lasted just 410 days.
As well as being 12 days ahead of schedule, the project came in at $40,948,900, almost 20 per cent below the earmarked budget of $50 million.
AIRSHIP OF FOOLS
The 60-metre mast that secured the building’s position as the tallest was originally intended as a mooring for airships.
This fanciful notion was deemed too dangerous for passengers, however, so was never tested.
In its first year, the Empire State took as much revenue from visitors to its observation deck – in the region of $2 million – as it did from rent-paying commercial tenants.
Only 23 per cent of the Empire State’s available office space was rented out.
The slow take-up led to it being dubbed the ‘Empty State Building’.
WHO’S THE DADDY?
The skyscraper’s design was based on that of the Reynolds Building in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Every year, the Empire State’s staff sends a Father’s Day card to those working in the older building.
When a plane crashed into the building in 1945, the ensuing devastation caused elevator operator Betty Lou Oliver to drop 75 floors inside her elevator.
Remarkably, she survived.
This article was first published in the May 2016 issue of History Revealed.