Amazing Engineering – Empire State Building

Amazing Engineering is an introduction to the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, a list of modern engineering marvels compiled by the American Society of Engineers (ASCE):

By now, you may be familiar with our previous pages on the subject. In the first installment, we learned a little bit about the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California. In part two, we traveled out of the United States to northwestern Europe to learn about the Netherlands North Sea Protection Works. After that, we headed to South America where we learned about the Itaipu Dam on the borders of Brazil and Paraguay. Last time, we traveled the Channel Tunnel, which connects England and France under the English Channel. Today, we make our way back to the United States to learn about the Empire State Building in New York.

The Empire State Building is a 102-story skyscraper located in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. It stands at just less than 1,454 feet high. It is often considered a cultural icon in America. According to the Empire State Realty Trust (owners), the building is “more than just a view. It’s an immersive experience inside a world famous landmark.”

William F. Lamb of Shreve, Lamb and Harmon designed the building. The architectural firm produced the building drawings in two weeks, basing the design off of previous projects around the country. Excavation of the site began January of 1930 and the project completed April of 1931–12 days ahead of schedule. The project involved around 3,400 workers and included many Native Americans and immigrants from Europe. officially, five workers died during the construction.

The building stood mostly empty for a long time, mostly due to the Great Depression and poor location in relation to public transportation. However, the observation deck brought in approximately 2 million dollars during the first open year. The 86th-flood observation deck offers 360-degree views of the city. There is a second observation deck on the 102nd floor that is also open to the public.

The building has 85 stories of commercial and office space, and an indoor and outdoor observation deck (86th floor). It was the first building to have more than 100 floors. It was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1986. Today, the Empire State Building receives more than 3.6 million tourists per year. See below for more fun facts about the Empire State Building:

  • The building houses 1,000 businesses and has its own ZIP code
  • The building has 73 elevators, including service elevators
  • The exterior of the building was built using Indiana limestone panels
  • The Empire State Building cost $40,948,900 to build–the equivalent to more than $635,000,000 today
  • Due to renovations, the building received a gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating in September 2011, making the Empire State Building the tallest LEED certified building in the United States
  • In 1964, floodlights were added to illuminate the top of the building at night. In 2012, the previously metal halide lamps and floodlights were replaced with LED fixtures. The spire at the top of the building has been lit different colors to match different events
  • Recently, the building was illuminated to draw attention to the world’s endangered wildlife
  • The longest world record held by the Empire State Building was for the tallest skyscraper (to structural height), which is held for 42 years until the North Tower of the World Trade Center surpassed it in 1972
  • The building is currently the fifth tallest skyscraper in America


Other Links of Interest: 

Empire State Building – Historic Timeline

Empire State Building – Home

Empire State Building – NYC Tourist

Empire State Building – Facebook

Empire State Building – Instagram

Empire State Building – Wikipedia

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