Empire State Building

Translated by Hilary Luk |   中文版




It was just a normal working day when several policemen suddenly invaded the office. They stormed up to the 25th floor, climbed out of the window and onto the terrace. Staff who sat near this window had to stop working and a quarter of the company were in standstill. Many workers were at a loss at what to do and the waiting dragged on for several hours. What was just described is the first-hand experience of this blogger. This incident happened in 2009, during the Global Financial Crisis. A 54-year-old woman had jumped off the 39th floor of the Empire State Building and landed on this blogger’s office, which overlooked the 25th floor’s podium. Soon after, the woman was certified dead.


Since its completion, the Empire State Building can be said to have undergone countless ordeals, except for 1933 and 2005 when King Kong ravaged the structure. There have been more than thirty suicide cases other than the one described above.

One includes a woman who, in 1947, jumped from the 88th floor’s observatory and died. Not only did the photographs taken of this woman become famous newspaper shots, her suicide has been hailed as “The Most Beautiful Suicide”. Afterwards, her suicide note was found where she wrote: “Without me, he would be better off…I cannot be a good wife”. Her story is a certainly a very poignant one.


The Empire State Building, being in the United States, has experienced shooting twice, once in 1997 and then in 2012.In addition to the shootings, a U.S military aircraft also struck the Empire State Building in 1945. Due to inclement weather and low visibility, the aircraft crashed into the top of the Empire State Building. Luckily, the bottom of the building structure was not affected. However, this accident claimed fourteen innocent lives.


It was during the year when the architectural style of decorative arts (Art Deco) was popular when architect William Frederick Lamb, designed the Empire State Building. However, the Empire State Building faced a mean competitor- another Art Deco-styled New York landmark- the Chrysler Building. When Lamb discovered that the Chrysler Building was undergoing height extension from eighty to eighty-five floors, he retaliated by adding a “hat”.
Today, the Empire State Building holds a mighty 102 floors. The added hat was originally intended for airships. However, it was found to be too dangerous and highly impractical to use for landing and take-off. Thus, only one airship ever landed and used the hat. The hat then transformed into a transmitter tower for telecommunications.



The Novelty Wears Off

In 1930, construction of the Empire State Building began. However, the landowner requested its completion to occur as soon as possible. With every ounce of brain and manpower available, the construction lasted one year and in fact, forty-five days earlier than expected. Construction occurred during the Great Depression, meaning engineering and labor costs were reduced. Overall, the whole building project can be said to be very successful.


Building the world’s tallest building during the Great Depression requires enormous courage, and there was also a price to pay. The Empire State Building suffered a very high vacancy rate and thus, it was satirized as the “Empty State Building”. The skyscraper had to wait until 1950, two decades after its completion, before it started bringing in the dollars.

The Empire State Building, completed in 1931, became the world’s tallest building. However, time passed and the Twin Towers rose up to the challenge and stole its title. Unfortunately, in September 11, 2001, the Empire State Building retrieved its title to become the tallest building in New York. The building