12 Empire State Building Facts Worth Knowing

The Empire State Building may not be the tallest building in the New York City any more, but it is definitely one of the most celebrated structures across the world. It is an iconic high-rise building and a famous tourist spot attracting about 4 million visitors annually. It is 1250-foot-tall, and has 102-floors.

In 1931, at time of its completion, it was the first ever building with more than 100 floors and was known as the tallest building in the world (until 1954). After the fall of Twin Towers, it once again stood as the tallest building in New York from 2001 until 2012. In spite of being one of the most famous tourist spots, not many visitors or locals know that the building has a few secrets buried deep within.

12 Fun Facts About The Empire State Building

1. The Empire State Building had Multiple Owners

In 1799, the plot was bought by John Thompson, a farmer looking to start growing his crops in New York City. After 26 odd years, he sold the property to Charles Lawton. Later, William Backhouse Astor Sr., a businessman, bought the site to develop it for commercial purposes. He then built the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in the plot.

In 1928, the hotel was sold to the Bethlehem Engineering Corporation; however, they defaulted and had to sell the land back to the bank. In 1930, John J. Raskob of Empire State, Inc. along with Shreve, Lamb & Harmon, an architectural firm bought the land from the bank and began building the skyscraper we know today.

After the death of Raskob, the Empire state building had several owners, investors, and developers. In 2013, the Empire State Realty Trust Inc. went public with a $929.5 million as the primary bidding amount.

2. The Secret Behind The 200 Ft Spire

Al Smith, the construction chairman, and the former New York State Governor approved the 200-footspire, as an attachment, to the 1050-foot-tall building. The official reason for putting up the spire was to create a port for aircrafts. However, many people suspect it was only to strip the Chrysler building (1046 feet tall) of the title of “world’s tallest building”.

3. The button that illuminated the Empire State Building was located in DC

The grand opening of the Empire state building took place on May 1, 1931. Former Governor Smith’s grandchildren cut the ribbon and the sitting President Herbert Hoover pressed the button to activate the building’s electric illumination system from Washington D.C.

The first light to gleam on the Empire State Building was a symbol of hope and a signal that FDR (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) had been elected as the US president in November 1932.

These lights are turned off during the migration season to avert birds from crashing into the building.

4. The Empire State Building was hit by a plane

In July 1945, a North American B-25 Mitchell bomber aircraft which was heading for the Newark Airport, but due to poor weather conditions was redirected towards LaGuardia Airport. Upon arrival, the aircraft fell victim to the thick haze and collided with the top of the Empire State Building leaving 14 dead.

5. The Empire State Building is a historic suicide spot

In 1947, Evelyn McHale jumped from the observation deck and plummeted 86 floors to death. Despite the fall, the 23-year-old looked peaceful, even as her body smashed into the hood of a UN Assembly Cadillac.

6. A girl jumped off the Empire State Building and lived

In December 1979, Elvita Adams jumped from the 86th story; however, strong winds pushed her onto the ledge of the 85th story. A security guard pulled her through the window, leaving her with a fractured hip.

7. The Empire State Building took 6 months to clean

In May 1962, three decades after it was first opened, the Empire State Building required a good amount of cleansing. A team of 30 washers were hired to wash the exteriors of the building. The team worked who worked eight-hour days and still entire cleaning process six months to complete.

8. The facade of the Empire State Building was covered in strawberry preserves

According to window washer Ron Zeibigre, the hardest job was cleaning the strawberry preserves off the facade of the building. The tenants of the empire state building were not environmentally conscious and would throw their food and garbage out the window. “They throw s–t out of the windows all the time. One time, they threw, like, twenty gallons of strawberry preserves—and it went through ten floors, all over the windows. And it was the winter, so it froze on there and we couldn’t get it off.”-THE NEW YORKER

9. At one point, Scotty, from Star Trek, was your personal guide through the Empire State Building

In 1994, the Empire State Building introduced a motion simulator on the second floor, featuring the actor James Doohan, as ‘Scotty’ from the Star Trek franchise, to guide visitors on an aerial tour of New York. The actor was replaced by Kevin Bacon, eight years later.

10. The Empire State Building had a floor dedicated to napping

Between 2004 and 2008, a part of the 24th floor was occupied by  a company called MetroNaps. The company rented out spaceship-like chairs called nap-pods ($14/20 min) to people looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of New York City life. The place was famous; even with the locals. However, a change in visitor policies led to the closure of MetroNaps in 2008.

11. It took longer to renovate the lobby than it did to build the Empire State Building

Back in 1931, it took less than 14 months to build the entire Empire State building. Contradictorily, in the 20th century, it took more than 18 months just to renovate the lobby!

12. The Empire State Building has a secret floor

Many people think the highest access point of the skyscraper is the observatory on the 102nd floor. Not true! The Empire State Building has a private observatory on the 103rd floor, which is only accessible to people that are invited by the building’s management.

Today, The Empire State Building is the 31st tallest building in the world and the 4th tallest in America. 

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One response to “12 Empire State Building Facts Worth Knowing”

  1. Kate says:

    Numbers 4,5,6 facts are creepy and haunting. A prominent building because of its towering height cannot avoid such tragedies. Others are interesting and trivial and I must say the facts about Empire State Building are worth knowing.