Ten Things You Didn’t Know About the Empire State Building
A fixture on the New York skyline, the Empire State Building is regarded around the world as the iconic symbol of the city. The 102-story Art Deco skyscraper was the tallest in the world from 1931 until 1970. Here are ten more facts you didn’t know.
The building’s lights have 16 million different color combinations.
When they were first installed in 1964, the gel sheets on the building’s lights took crew members six hours to switch. Since the Empire State Building upgraded to LED lights in 2012, the process is much easier. Every night, a new color combination lets the city know what’s going on—green, blue and yellow sparkles signify the start of the U.S. Open, for example, while red, white and blue lights celebrate Independence Day.
Featured in more than 250 films, the Empire State Building made its debut in 1933’s King Kong. Now, the building is perhaps best known for the major role it plays in the plot of Sleepless in Seattle, the 1993 romantic comedy that established its observation desk as a popular spot for marriage proposals.
Anywhere from 3 to 4 million people visit every year.
That’s roughly 9,500 people per day.
It wasn’t always popular.
Completed at the height of the Great Depression—the most severe economic depression of the 20th century—the building was nearly 80% vacant for years, earning it the nickname “Empty State Building.”
It didn’t take that long to build.
New York’s equally-iconic Art Deco Chrysler Building—constructed just one year before the Empire State Building—took two years to build. Only 200 feet taller, the Empire State Building’s 102 floors were completed in just 11 months.
A (fast) runner can make it up to the 86th floor in 10 minutes.
Since the 1970s, the annual Empire State Building Run-Up invites athletes to sprint up 1,576 steps to the building’s 86th floor. The fastest can ascend the building in approximately 10 minutes.
It’s not actually the most photographed building in New York.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum steals the show as the most photographed building in New York. While its modernist Frank Lloyd Wright design is stunning, the Empire State Building does come in a close second.
Lightning strikes more than twice in the same place.
The building’s lightning rod is struck more than 100 times a year.
Since 2001, almost all of NYC’s TV and radio stations are transmitted from its antenna.
If you’re tuned in, the Empire State Building is never very far away.