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The Empire State Building

New York's Tallest Skyscraper!

The Empire State Building350 Fifth Avenue (between 33rd and 34th Streets)Manhattan, New York, NY 10118

History of the Empire State Building

1799: The City of New York sells a virgin tract (now bounded by Broadway and Sixth Avenue on the west, Madison Avenue on the east, 33rd Street on the south and 36th Street on the north) to John Thompson for $2,600. He farms it.

1825: Thompson sells the farm to Charles Lawton for $10,000

1827: William B. Astor, the second son of John Jacob Astor, buys the farm for $20,500 as an investment.

1859: John Jacob Astor, Jr. erects a mansion on the northwest corner of 33rd Street and Fifth Avenue.

1862: John Jacob, Jr.'s elder brother, William B., builds his mansion next door at the southwest corner of 34th Street and Fifth Avenue.

1893: William Waldorf Astor, son of John Jacob Astor, Jr., razes his inherited mansion and erects the Waldorf Hotel on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 33rd Street.

1897: Mrs. William Backhouse Astor, aunt of John Jacob, Jr., allows her mansion at 34th Street and Fifth Avenue to be razed and the Astoria Hotel is erected on the site. The new complex is known as the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

1928: The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel is sold to Bethlehem Engineering Corporation for an estimated $20 million.

1929: John Jakob Raskob (creator of General Motors), Coleman du Pont, Pierre S. du Pont (president of E.I. Du Pont de Nemours), Louis G. Kaufman and Ellis P. Earle, form Empire State, Inc. and name Alfred E. Smith, former Governor of New York and Presidential Candidate, to head the corporation.

1930: Excavation of the site where the Empire State Building would stand begins on January 22nd.

1930: On March 17, construction of the Empire State Building began. Under the direction of architects Shreve, Lamb & Harmon Associates, and a peak labor force of 3,000 men, framework rose at a rate of 4 ½ stories per week.

1930: The masonry work for the building, which began in June of the same year, is completed on November 13.

1931: On May 1st, President Hoover presses a button in Washington, D.C. officially opening and turning on the Empire State Building's lights.

1945: On July 28, an Army Air Corps B-25 crashes into the Building at the 79th floor level. Fourteen people died. Damage to the Building was $1 million but the structural integrity of the building was not affected.

1951: The Building is sold by the John J. Raskob estate for $34 million to a group headed by Roger I. Stevens. At the same time, Prudential Insurance Company of America buys the Building for $17 million and enters into a long-term ground lease with the owners. In 1954, a Chicago group headed by Col. Henry J. Crown buys the Building for $51.5 million.

1981: On May 18, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission declares the Building a Landmark.

1986: The Empire State Building is recognized as a National Historic Landmark by the National Parks Services, I.S. Department of the Interior and a commemorative plaque was awarded.


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