PROFESSOR JOHNSON The History of the Empire State Building I as a fellow New Yorker born and raised there practically my entire life, I was always intrigued on how the Empire State Building was first constructed to become one of the tallest buildings in the world today. Since it was first built, the Empire State Building has caught the attention of young and old alike. Every year, millions of tourists go to the Empire State Building to get a breathtaking glimpse from its 86th and 102nd floor observatories. Movies like King Kong are memorable because of its climb to the very top of the building, also the countless toys, models, postcard..etc that have the image if not the shape of the towering, Art Deco building. I myself unfortunately never been to the very top of the building. I wanted to do that before I moved to Florida but I never got the chance to, but I can imagine the view is spectacular to say the least.
There are probably some people who wonder why the Empire State Building gets so much appeal and attention to so many. When the Empire State Building first opened on May 1, 1931, it was the tallest building in the world standing at 1,250 feet tall. The building not only became an icon of New York City, it became the symbol of 20th century man’s attempts to do the impossible. So how did this enormous building get built? It started with a “Race to the Sky”. In Paris, when the Eiffel Tower (984 feet) was built in 1889, in a way it kind of taunted American architects to build something taller. By the early 20th century, a skyscraper race was on. By 1909 the Metropolitan Life Tower rose 700 feet which is 50 stories high to be exact. Then quickly came the Woolworth Building in 1913 at 792 feet which is 57 stories, and soon after that surpassed the Manhattan Building in 1929 at 927 feet and that was 71 stories to be exact which is pretty amazing. When John Raskob who was previously a vice president of General Motors, decided to join in the skyscraper race. Walter Chrysler who is the founder of the Chrysler Corporation was constructing a monumental building, the height of which he was keeping a secret until the buildings completion. Not really knowing what height he had to beat, Raskob started construction on his own building. In 1929, Raskob and his partners bought a parcel at 34th Street and 5th Avenue for their new skyscraper. On the property sat the Glamorous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. So since the property on which the hotel was located had become really valuable, the owners of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel decided to sell the property and build a new hotel on Park Avenue which is between 49th and 50th streets. Raskob was able to buy the site for about 16 million. After deciding on and getting a site for the skyscraper, Raskob needed a plan. Raskob hired Shreve, Lamb and Harmon to be the architects for his new building. It was said that Raskob pulled a thick pencil out of a drawer and held up to William Lamb and asked him how high can he make it so that it won’t fall down. Lamb got started planning right away. Soon after that he had a plan. “The logic of the plan was very simple. A certain amount of space in the center, arranged as compactly as possible, contains the vertical circulation, mail chutes, toilets, shafts and corridors. Surrounding this is a perimeter of office space 28 feet deep. The sizes of the floors diminish as the elevators decrease in number. In essence, there is a pyramid of non-rentable space surrounded by a greater pyramid of rentable space”. A few were concerned about whether or not the plan was high enough to make the Empire State Building the tallest in the world. Hamilton Weber, the original rental describes the worry” We thought we would be the tallest at 80 stories. Then the Chrysler went higher, so we lifted the Empire State to 85 stories, but only four feet taller