Wednesday, May 1, 2013
May 1 - Empire State Building
On May 1, 1931, New York’s Empire State Building was officially opened when President Hoover pressed a button to turn on its lights. He needn’t have bothered, since the building was largely unoccupied and would remain poorly rented for nearly two decades. Opened during the Depression, built at a poor location on 34th Street, it was scorned as the "Empty State Building" and did not turn a profit until 1950. Designed from the top down, it fought for the title of the "world's tallest building" against 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler Building, both being built at the time. It won the race one year and 45 days after its construction began, ahead of schedule and under budget because the U.S. economy had collapsed. Erected largely by European immigrants and Mohawk iron workers, it was the first building to have more than 100 floors. It now has 73 elevators and its own Zip Code (10118), and is America’s second-largest single office complex after the Pentagon. Its Art Deco spire was originally designed to be a mooring mast for dirigibles.