Monday, May 03, 2010

Happy Birthday Empire State!

AS Burj Khalifa dons the mantle of the tallest building in the world, one's mind goes back to May 1st, 1931, when it all started.

This month the New York’s landmark Empire State Building celebrates its 79th birthday. To put it in other words, Empire State broke the 100 floors barrier 79 years back. That in itself is awe inspiring!

Located in New York, US, the famous building stands at 443.2 metres. For more than four decades it was the world's tallest building until the World Trade Center came up.

Empire State was designed from the top down and it took just over a year to build it. It was inaugurated during the great depression.

The building initially survived mainly on the visitors who flocked to the observation deck on the 86th floor. The lack of renters even led to people calling it "Empty State Building." It could only turn profitable almost two decades later.

In an ominous sign, a fighter plane crashed into the building between the 79th and 80th floors on July 28th, 1945. Fourteen people died in the accident. Miraculously elevator operator Betty Lou Oliver survived a 75 storey fall inside one of the elevators during the crash. For this she holds a Guinness World Record till date.

In a testimony to its solid construction, there was no serious structural damage to the building in the crash.

Floodlights were added to the building in 1964. The lights illuminate the top in colours suiting the occasion. The building was lit green for three days in October 2007 during the Muslim festival of Eid-ul-Fitr. It was a first!

The Empire State building houses some 1000 businesses and has its own zip code.

For me, nothing speaks more about the Empire State than the simple fact that only 14 buildings have managed to surpass it since its inauguration in 1931.

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