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Empire State Building

Empire State Building (73)

When you first see this landmark building, perhaps you will think of a Gorilla climbing to the top of it. 

Considered the eighth wonder of the world, the Empire State Building is an imposing building of 102 floors, 381 metres high (or 448 metres including the TV antenna on the top), which attracts nearly four million visitors per year. That means you will need to arm yourself with patience to deal with the long queue. The best time to visit is first thing in the morning, when there are fewer people, or late at night, if you want to enjoy magnificent views of the New York nightscape. 

The building is spectacular from the outside, has an enormous pedestal covering the ground floor and first five floors, and a tower that gradually tapers upwards on floors 25, 72 and 8.  But you will soon see that the inside is magnificent too. In its marble lobby three stories high, with Art Deco decorations, there are eight illuminated panels that represent the Seven Wonders of the World, and showing the Empire State itself as if it were the eighth. 

Then it's time to take off. Yeah yeah, to take off... Because it takes less than a minute to reach the 86th floor. But before boarding, you must decide how high you want to reach: you can go to the observatory on the roof terrace on the 86th floor, at 320 m high, or to floor 102 at 380 metres. 

Whichever height you choose, the most spectacular views of the city of New York are waiting for you, with visibility on clear days as far as 130 kilometres away. Of course, another way to enjoy the Empire State Building is to contemplate it from the outside, especially when the sun has already set. And, since 1976, the year of the United States bicentenary celebrations, the top 30 floors have been illuminated at night with different colours, which vary depending on the season and the various events, such as Christmas red and green, Valentine red and white, 4th of July red, white and blue, the Martin Luther King of black, red and green, orange Halloween or Gay Pride day in pink.

While enjoying the views, make a quick trip through its history. The Empire State Building was built during the housing boom in the twenties, when the city experienced a crazy race to build the tallest building in the world. John J. Raskob, founder of General Motors, decided to join the competition to surpass the 318-metre Chrysler Building. To achieve it, he hired architect William Lamb and asked: "Bill, how high can you make it so that it will not fall down?" And so construction on the Empire State Building. 

Finally on May 1, 1931, opening day, he won the title and held it for 42 years, until in 1972 when the north tower of Wall Trade Center (the first to be finished) snatched it away. Today, after the fall of the Twin Towers, the Empire State Building is once again the tallest building in New York, although globally it occupies a modest 4th place.

But this was not the only feat that the Empire State Building achieved. It also set the record for speed of construction, at a rate of four and a half floors per week, enabling the works to be completed in just 13 months. In addition, due to cheap wages and prices of materials as a result of the 1929 depression, the building cost less than expected: $41 million instead of the $50 million budgeted.

At the time of its inauguration, and despite the large advertising campaign, only 46 per cent of the building was rented. Thus to some it was popularly known with the nickname Empty State Building. The strategy was to leave many floors unfinished with the idea that the tenants could remodel to their own taste. But because of the economic downturn, much of it was unfinished and empty. 

However, this was not the greatest disaster in the history of the building. The greatest misfortune took place on 28 July 1945, when a US Army B-25 bomber flying at an altitude two times lower than the authorised limit crashed into the 79th floor, killing 14 and injuring 26; fortunately, it was a Saturday and the offices were virtually empty.

Would you like some interesting facts about the building? Let's go: The first is that on top of the skyscraper there is a static electricity so strong, that it can give you an electric shock, for example if you kiss someone. 

Another curiosity is that the needle at the top of the building was originally intended to serve as a mooring for airships. At that time, the Graf Zeppelin had crossed the Atlantic and was planning to open regular routes. After two failed attempts that were on the point of causing an accident, the idea was abandoned. 

Another is that during the annual race to the top of the Empire State Building, the fastest runners take about 11 minutes to climb the 1,860 steps from the lobby to the 102nd floor. 

More curiosities. Because during autumn and spring migratory birds flock to the building, the hours of lighting are reduced to avoid causing harm to them. 

The dream of many New York couples is to marry in the Empire State Building on Valentine's Day, but just seven couples per year have the honour and from that day they become part of the ESB Bridal Club. 

Every year, the Boy Scouts camp in the building in November and Girl Scouts in March.

And finally, each year the lighting conductor is hit by more than 500 strikes and once it was hit 15 times in a row in 15 minutes.

Made from 60,000 tons of steel and 6,500 windows, this pencil-shape building is one of the greatest icons of New York and also the 20th century. An icon that has been captured on the big screen on countless occasions. In addition to the legendary King Kong, the Empire State Building has been the setting for more than a hundred other films. Superman has flown over the building, in You and Me Cary Grant impatiently waited for Deborah Kerr on the roof and in Sleepless in Seattle, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan starred in a romantic encounter.

So you have seen it thousands of times in films, series, photos, documentaries... And now you are here; enjoy one of the most famous and beloved buildings in New York.

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