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A national historic landmark, the Empire State Building has been a favorite tourist attraction since it was first opened in 1931. Located in Manhattan, part of New York City, it serves as a beacon to tourists and native New Yorkers. But it’s just a building, so what’s the big deal? Let’s find out what makes it special by learning some Empire State Building fun facts.
The land currently occupied by the Empire State Building was originally a farm in the late 18th century. Hard to imagine a farm in the middle of New York City! Then the land was purchased as a site for the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. It was really fancy and used by only the richest folks at that time. John J. Raskob and Pierre DuPont bought the land, tore down the hotel and joined the race to build the world’s tallest building.
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Let the Race Begin!
Even though the country was in the middle of the Great Depression, John Raskob of General Motors and Walter Chrysler of the Chrysler Corporation began a fierce competition to see who could build the tallest building in the world. Also in the race were the developers of the 40 Wall Street Building.
For only eleven months the Chrysler Building was the tallest in the world, but upon its completion the Empire State Building earned the honor and remained the world’s tallest building for the next forty years!
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Think about the work involved on this building! Over 3,400 workers contributed to the construction. These guys must have been brave to climb up on the steel beams high above the city even in the wind and rain. It grew by over four stories every week until the building rose over a quarter of a mile in the air.
To save time, the company provided temporary elevators, lunch stands and even toilets so that the workers did not have to leave the job.
Remember that it was the time of the Depression--so if the guys didn’t work fast enough or do a good job, they could easily be replaced by others needing jobs.
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It's How Big?
- The building weighs 365,000 tons. That is equal to the weight of seven Titanics, the largest passenger steamship of its time.
- It is 1,250 feet tall or roughly a quarter of a mile. If you stood 4 football fields end-to-end it would be the same size.
- Count the windows in your home! There are 6,500 windows in this famous building. Imagine trying to keep those clean!
- Finally, there are 10 million bricks used in the structure.
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Love can be in the air when you are that high above New York City. Many folks have gotten engaged or married on the observation deck. Several romantic movies such as Sleepless in Seattle and An Affair to Remember have the Empire State Building featured. Action movies such as Independence Day have the building as a backdrop.
The best film using this world famous building as its setting is King Kong! The giant ape carried a young woman along the outside of the building until they reached the top. Then airplanes attacked the ape. Very exciting!
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The Plane Crash
Very foggy weather contributed to a crash of a B-25 Army Bomber in 1945. The pilot was headed to Newark, New Jersey to pick up his commanding officer. He was warned by the tower to land in New York City but decided to give it a try. Because of the fog he ended up flying lower than expected and was going right into the middle of the downtown skyscrapers. The pilot trying to raise the plane to a higher-level but crashed into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building. It exploded on impact and the fire reached four stories. Fourteen people were killed, three in the plane and eleven in the building. One million dollars was spent to repair the damage.
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Improving with Age
As stated on the official website, “The Empire State Building symbolizes America's limitless potential.” With that in mind, a new program is in the works to turn this famous landmark into an energy saving green building. Some improvements will be in the lighting system, adjusting thermostats, insulation, green cleaning and pest control serving as a role model to the nation.
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Fascinating Facts About the Empire State Building
- The building symbolizes the spirit of America. The seemingly impossible task of building this structure was completed in just one year and forty-five days.
- In 2006 a parachute jumper, who intended to be filmed for a television show, attempted to jump from the observation deck of the building. He was stopped before he could actually jump and then sued for endangering the building staff and interrupting the business of the building.
- The Empire State Building has its very own zip code!
- The construction on the building was started on St. Patrick’s Day in 1930.
- There are several different banks of elevators. Each banks just goes to certain floors so that they don’t all stop on every floor of the building.
- Elevators were also designed to be faster.
- There are two observation decks: on the 86th floor and the 102nd floor.
- Many television and FM radio stations use transmitters from the Empire State Building.
- In addition to having offices the building also contains restaurants, coffee shops, banks, post office and the SkyRide flight simulator attraction.
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Whether you are learning about famous landmarks in the United States or just in New York City, learning Empire State Building facts or fun facts about any other landmark makes it easier to remember.
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Official Website: Empire State Building, http://www.esbnyc.com/
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Hopkinson, Deborah. Sky Boys.Schwartz & Wade Books, 2006.
Websites: Empire State Building, http://www.esbnyc.com/
Empire State Building, http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h2538.html
Photo Image: Attribution: Jyothis at ml.wikipedia http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Empirestatebuilding.JPG