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History of the Empire State Building in 60 Seconds

Picture of Lily Niu
Updated: 25 May 2017

The Empire State Building is New York City’s architectural pride and joy. This Manhattan skyscraper stands at 102-storeys tall and was beaten only in 1970 as the tallest building in New York, by the World Trade Center’s North Tower.

Along with the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building has become one of the United States’ most profound cultural icons. Featuring prominently in films about New York since its completion in 1931, perhaps the most significant portrayal of the Empire State Building is in the 1933 movie, King Kong. Other memorable films in which this world famous skyscraper appears are An Affair to Remember (1957), Empire (1963), and of course, Sleepless in Seattle (1993).   

Dubbed by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, the Empire State Building’s eye-catching art deco style draws interest from design buffs from all over the globe.

Boasting one of the most visited outdoor observatories in the world, the Empire State Building has seen over 110 million people come through its doors to take in the Manhattan skyline at its best.

On a clear day, five states can be seen from the Empire State Building’s Observatories on the main deck (86th floor) and top deck (102nd floor): New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts.

When visiting the site, it’s worth stopping in on the 2nd and and 80th floors to explore the Sustainability and Dare to Dream exhibits, respectively. The former is an educational showcase on the Empire State Building’s award-winning retrofit beginning in 2009 to reduce total energy consumption by over 28% and the latter is an inspiring exhibit detailing the planning and building process of the Empire State Building.
Each year, the Empire State Building maintains traditional lightings for the following religious holidays: Easter, Eid al-Fitr, Hanukah, and Christmas. While personal lighting requests for occasions such as birthdays, weddings, or anniversaries are not granted, one can apply to become an Empire State Building Lighting Partner here.