August 24th, 2012
11:56 AM ET

What to know about the Empire State Building

Eleven people were shot outside the Empire State Building on Friday, leaving two dead, including the gunman, New York officials said.

New York police said they shot and killed the gunman.

Authorities converged on the building about 9 a.m. after reports of gunfire.

The Empire State Building is one of the most famous skyscrapers in the world and one of New York's best-known tourist attractions.

Each year, about 4 million people visit the building's two observation decks. At more than 1,453 feet tall, the landmark building reaches more than a quarter-mile into the sky.

"There's always a focus and concentration on the building," said retired police officer Lou Palumbo. "That building gets special attention."

Learn more about the Empire State Building below.


Was the tallest building in New York until it was passed by the new World Trade Center tower in April.

103 stories tall (1,250 feet to top floor, excludes height of antennae)

Located on Fifth Avenue between 33rd and 34th Streets in Manhattan.

The Empire State Building took only one year and 45 days to build, or 7 million man-hours.

Each year, about 4 million people visit the observatories.

The static electricity is so strong on the top of the building that people on the observatory floor can see sparks when they kiss.

The building has been featured in several movies such as "An Affair to Remember" and "Sleepless in Seattle."

The tower lights are turned off on foggy nights during the spring and autumn bird migration seasons so the lights shining through the fog will not confuse birds and cause them to fly into the building.

Every year on Valentine's Day, couples marry on the 80th floor and become members of the Empire State Building Wedding Club. They receive free admission to the observatories each February 14 (their anniversary) thereafter.

More than 30 people have jumped to their deaths off the Empire State Building.

The 35th annual Empire State Building Run-Up took place February 8, with participants racing up to the 86th floor (1,576 steps). The male winner was German Thomas Dold, his seventh consecutive, with a time of 10 minutes 28 seconds. The female winner was New Zealand's Melissa Moon with a time of 12 minutes 39 seconds.

Notable dates

1929: John Jakob Raskob, creator of General Motors, and several partners form Empire State Inc., with plans to erect the Empire State Building. The building is part of an unofficial competition between Walter Chrysler of Chrysler Corp. and Raskob to build the tallest building. William Lamb, an architect at the firm Shreve, Lamb, & Harmon, designs the Empire State Building. The contractor is Starrett Brothers and Eken.

January 22, 1930: Excavation begins.

March 17, 1930: Construction begins at a rate of 4½ floors per week.

November 13, 1930: The masonry work for the building is complete.

April 1931: Construction is complete. It is the tallest building in the world at this point.

May 1, 1931: President Herbert Hoover presses a button in D.C. and officially opens the skyscraper and turns on its lights.

July 28, 1945: At the end of World War II, an Army Air Corps B-25 twin-engine bomber crashes into the 79th floor of the building, due to foggy conditions. Only two stories are damaged, but 14 people are killed.

1951: The Raskob estate sells the building for $34 million to a group headed by Roger Stevens. Prudential Insurance Company also buys the site for $17 million and enters a long-term lease with the owners.

1954: The tower is bought by a Chicago group headed by Col. Henry Crown for $51.5 million.

1961: The building is sold to an investment group headed by Lawrence Wien for $65,000,000.

1973: The construction of the World Trade Center ends the Empire State Building's reign as the tallest building in the world.

May 18, 1981: The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission declares the building a landmark.

1986: The skyscraper is recognized as a National Historic Landmark by the National Parks Service and the Department of the Interior.

September 11, 2001: It becomes the tallest building in the city after the collapse of the World Trade Center towers.

2002: Peter L. Malkin, Wien's son-in-law who owns the 114-year lease, purchases the building, making him both owner and manager of the Empire State Building.

April 27, 2006: Jeb Ray Corliss, host of Discovery Channel's "Stunt Junkies," is arrested on the 86th-floor observation deck after he tries to climb over the railing. He was wearing a mask, a costume, a video camera and a parachute. Corliss is charged with reckless endangerment, assault, criminal trespass and obstructing governmental administration.

February 13, 2012: Malkin Holdings LLC, which controls the Empire State Building, files for an initial public offering for a real estate investment trust for the building, along with two other Manhattan properties it controls. The filing puts the estimated value for the Empire State Building at $2.5 billion.


Cost: $40,948,900 (including land)

Building alone: $24,718,000 (less than anticipated by half, due to the Depression)

Area of site: 79,288 square feet (7,240 meters) or about 2 acres. East to west, 424 feet (129 meters); north to south, 187 feet (56.9 meters)

Foundation: 55 feet (16.7 meters) below ground

Basement: 35 feet (10.6 meters) below ground

Lobby: 47 feet (14.3 meters) above sea level

Total height: 1,454 feet (1,453 feet, 8 9/16 inches) or 443.2 meters to top of antenna

- to 86th floor observatory: 1,050 feet (320 meters)

- to 102nd floor observatory: 1,250 feet (373 meters)

- 102nd floor to tip: 230 feet

Height of antenna: 203 feet, 8 9/16 inches

Floors: 103

Steps: 1,860 from street level to 102nd floor

Volume: 37 million cubic feet

Weight: 365,000 tons

The base of the building rises five floors above the street. The entrance is four floors high. The lobby is three floors high. From the 60-foot setback on the fifth floor, the building soars without a break to the 86th floor.

Steel frame: 57,000 tons

Panels are made of limestone, and an alloy of chrome, nickel and steel covers the steel framework.

Windows: 6,514

Street-level access: Five entrances on 33rd Street, Fifth Avenue and 34th Street.

Elevators: 73, including six freight elevators, operating at speeds of 600 to 1,400 feet per minute. It is possible to ride from lobby to 80th floor in 45 seconds.

Escalators: 8 high-speed escalators in the concourse and second floor areas.

Latitude: 40 degrees 44 minutes 53.977 seconds north; Longitude: 73 degrees 59 minutes 10.812 seconds west.

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Filed under: Empire State Building
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. James Bond

    Wow, sounds cool,

    August 24, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  2. James Bond

    So is the physco killing disgruntle Former emplyee exhibit included in the tourist package? nevermind the blood and brains folks, bonus show today

    August 24, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Carol Griffitt

    Another tragedy involving a angry, disturbed individual with a there not a take home message here? This is not the "right to bear arms" envisioned by our Forefathers. We have strayed from their path.

    August 24, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Portland tony

    The most important event was a large gorilla seen hanging on to the top floor holding an attractive woman!

    August 24, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. saywhat

    Know about Empire State Building?
    Shouldn't the concern be ' What to know about increasing gun violence'?
    good morning @Portland tony.

    August 24, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Cindy

    The Empire State Building reminds me of The King Kong movies. My prayers are with the families.

    August 24, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. uhadit

    Every second some Ugly Swine Of America Christain terrorist picks a gun & goes on shooting now this is real terrorism by Christians what have Americans have to say about this

    August 24, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Don't know about everybody else, but that's a pretty sweeping generalization of all Americans.

      August 24, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |