|Empire State Building|
The Empire State Building revolutionized the construction of tall buildings. Under the innovative project management of contractors Starrett Brothers & Eken, Inc., construction began on March 17, 1930 and was completed just one year and 45 days later, a full month ahead of schedule. While foundations were being constructed on one portion of the site, excavation was still proceeding on the other part of the site. Work began on the lower floors before the specifications for the upper floors had even been completed. A detailed chart outlining the entire construction schedule was developed to coordinate the timeframe for each of the activities.
The original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel was demolished beginning on October 1, 1929 to make room for the new Art Deco skyscraper located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 34th Street. The building's framework rose at an astonishing rate of 4 ½ stories per week. During construction of the Empire State Building, its peak workforce amounted to 3,400 workers including 328 arch laborers, 290 bricklayers, 384 brick laborers, 225 carpenters, 107 derrick operators, 105 electricians, 249 elevator installers, 194 heating and ventilation installers, 192 plumbers, 285 steelworkers, a number of other specialists, plus clerks, foremen, inspectors, and water boys.
Portions of the building were prefabricated off-site and assembled in place in order to achieve this remarkable construction schedule. A total of 700 million pounds (317,000 t) of materials went into the construction of the Empire State Building, which included:
Miniature railroad tracks were installed to quickly transport construction materials horizontally within the building. The cars were eight times bigger than a wheelbarrow and required little effort by workers to push around. During the construction of the Empire State Building, concessionaires operated restaurants at various levels so workers did not have to descend to street level for their lunch breaks.
The building's façade employed a pioneering curtain wall design. The building's 6,500 windows were made a part of the wall, simplifying the stonework and using 75 percent less stone compared to other skyscrapers constructed at the time. The curtain wall design allowed the walls for the tower to be set at a rate of one story per day, and a total of fourteen floors were completed within a ten-day period during the peak of the construction activity in September 1930.
Developed by the firm of Raskob & Smith, the Empire State Building was designed by architects Shreve, Lamb, & Harmon Associates. The structural engineer was Homer Gage Balcom, a pioneer in designing tall structures to account for lateral wind forces, who also designed the Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Terminal, and Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
President Herbert Hoover lit the building's lights by pressing a key in Washington, DC when the building was first opened on May 1, 1931 and sent a congratulatory message by telegram that was read by former New York State Governor New York State Governor Alfred E. Smith, the president of the Empire State Building Corporation, at a luncheon served that afternoon to 350 guests on the 86th Floor.
Occupying a plot of land approximately two acres (8,100 square meters) in size, the Empire State Building contains 70 miles (121 km) of water mains, 2.5 million feet (232,000 m) of electrical wiring, 1,060 miles (1,700 km) of telephone cables, 50 miles (129 km) of radiator pipe, and 73 elevators in 7 miles (18 km) of shafts. Each year a race is held from the lobby up the 1,576 steps to the observation deck. Public observatories are located on the 86th and 102nd floors and on a clear day visitors can see points up to 80 miles (129 km) away in the states of Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
The portion of the tower between the 86th and 102nd Floors was originally intended to be a mooring mast for dirigibles but only a few airships actually docked because winds near the top made landings dangerous. The mast was later used for the base for the antenna that is today used to transmit the signals of 25 television stations and 19 FM radio stations. The National Broadcasting Company began experimenting with television transmissions from the top of the Empire State Building as early as 1931 and WNBT (now WNBC) began transmitting television signals on July 1, 1941. As more television stations took to the air in New York City, a 203-foot (62 m) steel mast antenna was added to the top of the Empire State Building that was capable of supporting multiple stations. The new antenna began transmitting television broadcasts on June 11, 1951 and provides television reception within a 72-mile (116 km) radius. The top of the antenna is 1,454 feet (443 m) high and is struck by lightning an average of two dozen times each year.
Two years after the Empire State Building opened, the skyscraper was featured in King Kong, a film in which a giant ape climbs to the top of the building and swatted away airplanes sent to attack him. An 84-foot (26 m) high inflatable version of King Kong was affixed to the building's mast from April 13-18, 1983 during the fiftieth anniversary of the motion picture. The "life size" balloon of King Kong weighed 3,000 pounds (1,360 kg).
On the morning of July 28, 1945, an Army B-25 Mitchell bomber crashed into the Empire State Building on its way to Newark Airport during a blinding fog, tearing open a hole 18 feet (5.5 m) wide and 20 feet (6 m) wide on the north side between the 78th and 79th Floors. A total of 14 people were killed and 25 were injured in the tragedy, however the building did not suffer any serious structural damage and was open the next business day.
Nighttime lighting atop the Empire State Building has evolved from revolving beacons to white floodlights to a combination of colored floodlights and fluorescent lamps. On April 1, 1964, a series of floodlights beginning on the 72nd Floor illuminated the top of the building, making it visible to visitors at the New York World's Fair in Queens. Colored lighting was first used on June 29, 1976 and the top of the Empire State Building was lit with red, white, and blue for America's Bicentennial and to welcome visitors to the Democratic National Convention. Colored floodlights began illuminating the top of the building on a regular basis beginning the following fall. The top 30 floors of the Empire State Building continue to be illuminated each night in a different colored lighting scheme to honor national holidays and mark special events.
On October 22, 1955, ASCE announced that the Empire State Building was selected as on of America's Seven Modern Civil Engineering Wonders, along with the Chicago Sewage Disposal System, Colorado River Aqueduct, Grand Coulee Dam and Columbia River Basin Project, Hoover Dam, Panama Canal, and San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. ASCE President Louis R. Howson presented a bronze plaque calling the Empire State Building "A Modern Civil Engineering Wonder of the United States" on October 11, 1958 during the Society's annual convention held in New York City. In 1996, the Empire State Building was also named by ASCE as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World along with the Channel Tunnel, CN Tower, Golden Gate Bridge, Itaipu Dam, Netherlands North Sea Protection Works, and Panama Canal.
In 1999, ASCE initiated the Millennium Challenge program to reflect on the contributions of the profession to the development of quality of life in the 20th century. Members ranked skyscrapers as one of the top ten civil engineering achievements and the following year a prestigious panel of civil engineers selected the Empire State Building as a Monument of the Millennium to represent the achievement of skyscrapers.
On July 18, 2001, ASCE presented the Empire State Building with a plaque designating it one of the top ten civil engineering Monuments of the Millennium. The plaque was presented by ASCE President Robert Bein in a ceremony attended by national representatives from ASCE, the Met Section and the New Jersey Section. The award was accepted on behalf of Helmsley-Spear, Inc. by Hani Salama, P.E., Director of Operations for the Empire State Building. The Met Section also held a reception for President Bein the preceding evening at the Cornell Club, which was attended by many current and past Met Section Board members as well as representatives from the New Jersey Section. Elmer Isaak, Past President of the Met Section (1970-1971) sponsored the event.
The Empire State Building is designated as a National Historic Landmark and a New York City Landmark and is also lised on the National Register of Historic Places.
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