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Second Research Project

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Introduction

The Empire State Building is one of the best-known skyscrapers. It is a great achievement of the 20th century known not only in the USA, but also around the world. It is surely the very architect achievement of the 20th century worth speaking about to the future humanity students.  It ranks with such well-known constructions as the pyramid of Cheops and Taj Mahal. This structure remained and still remains a symbol of brilliant New York. Forty years ago, the Empire State Building was the highest building in the world, and, nowadays, it still makes a sensation with its sizes. The skyscraper Empire State Building is presented as the eighth wonder of the world on the wall of a huge hall of the Entire State Building decorated with marble. Thesis about the work: The skyscraper Empire State Building, a national monument of architecture, is considered to be not only a symbol of New York but the whole American state.

Features of the Empire State Building

The 102-storeyed building Empire State Building is situated on Fifth Avenue. It was constructed in 1931 and is the highest skyscraper of New York.

Despite its big sizes, a skyscraper looks quite graceful: proportions of the Empire State Building are simple and refined. The top floors are constructed a little deep in relation to the general line of a facade. The building is completed in modest but elegant style art-deco. On a grey stone façade, there are strips of stainless steel rising up, and the top floors are located in the form of three ledges.

Standing on the sidewalk before the 102-storeyed skyscraper, it is very difficult to watch the entire building — so big it is. The sizes of the construction really amaze; its height without a tower is 381 meters, and together with a television tower, which was built in 1950s, it generally reaches 449 meters. The weight of the construction is 331 thousand tons. The surface of the building is 195,096 m2. There are 73 elevators and 1860 steps in the staircase (Mann, 47).

It is necessary to notice that the Empire State Building is the first construction in the world which has more than 100 floors. It means that the height of the ceilings in the building is not so great, but this circumstance does not reduce skills of the developers and builders at all. In total, “the Empire State Building contain 6500 windows, the total glazing area is equal to 2 hectares. 73 high-speed Otis elevators can transport 10000 people between floors at a time. The total length of elevator shafts makes 11 km”.

Certainly, it is best to move on floors by means of elevators, but some odd fellows prefer to climb up the last floor on a ladder which consists of 1 860 steps. A competition on the fastest lifting is held here once a year. The winner receives one million dollars. The others still prefer to use elevators. “In office rooms 15 000 people can be located, and elevators are capable to transport 10000 passengers in an hour” (Tauranac, 80).

Entertainment for tourists

The Empire State Building is not only the center of offices, but also a real entertainment for tourists. In the hall, having length of 30 meters and height in three floors, a huge panel with images of eight wonders of the world, one of which is the Empire State Building, is hanging. In the hall, the information about unusual records and champions (Records of Guinness) is collected. On the 86th and 102nd floors, there are observation grounds which you can be reached very quickly on the elevator. An amazing view of the city opens from there.

The Empire State Building is situated in New York, Fifth Avenue, 350. This part of Manhattan is considered very prestigious now. A great number of skyscrapers located here even more emphasize respectability of this area.

New York and Chicago became the first cities where construction of high-rise buildings began. And there were many reasons. First, technical innovations — easy construction fittings, high-speed elevators, the tape base etc. have already been applied actively. Secondly, since the end of the nineteenth century, the land price has been rather high; therefore, the construction of multistoried buildings appeared economic. But, despite lower price, office placement in the skyscraper remained and still remains very prestigious. Nowadays, “to rent an office in a skyscraper, you should pay much more than for similar apartments in a usual building” (Tauranac, 65).

The modern Empire State Building was constructed on a place which since 1860 has been a center for the local aristocracy. Then there were two notable houses belonging to the members of the richest family Astor. In consequence, Waldorf and Astoria hotels were constructed there. These two hotels functioned in the 1890’s of the nineteenth century. In 1929, both hotels were destroyed to clear away a site for the construction of the Empire State Building.

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The building was “erected on the two-storeyed base (for the skyscraper to be steadier) and supported by a steel construction weighted 54 400 tons” (Miller, 2). Ten million bricks and 700 kilometers of a cable were used for the construction. The construction was headed by John Jacob Raskob (the founder of the company “General Motors”). The project was carried out by the architectural firm Shreve, Lamb and Harmon.

William Lamb, an architect working at the firm “Shreve, Lamb and Harmon”, was selected to make a design of the Empire State Building. “This architect’s design was influenced greatly by the perpendicular style of another famous architect, Eliel Saarinen. He appeared to base most of his design works on a simple pencil” (Tauranac, 65). The clean, gliding lines motivated him, and he made a model of the building after it. He also made up his mind that “stone columns would be simpler to put up if they were disunited with metal strips from the windows. The strips overlaid the stone's edges, that indicated the stone could be cut roughly at the stone quarry and then delivered into place without being final fitted or cut, thus cutting down expenses and saving a great deal of time” (Tauranac, 67). The stonework started in June 1930 and was finished in November. “The windows were fixed with metal holders between the stone columns, having aluminum bars above and below each floor” (Tauranac, 68).

The building was constructed with simply incredible speed. For a bit more than one and a half years, 38 brigades of builders (5 people in each) have mounted a skyscraper framework from a great number of metal beams which were delivered to the building by a specially constructed railway. The construction was very difficult and risky: every day workers had to balance on narrow beams of this framework.

Everybody could watch the skyscraper growing higher and higher. Every week about four and a half floors were built, and, during the most intensive period, 14 floors were constructed in 10 days. The whole building was constructed for 1 year and 45 days.

Official opening

On May 1st, 1931, an official opening of the Empire State Building took place. The building received the status of the highest building on our planet as it overtook the previous champion — headquarters of the automobile corporation “Chrysler” (Tauranac,18).

New York City developers competed among themselves, with successively taller buildings claiming the title of “world's tallest” in the 1920’s and early 1930’s. The construction of the building also became a part of the high-rise race which was taking place in New York at that time. Two other projects participating in this race — the Wall Street, 40 and Chrysler Building, were at a realization stage when the construction of the Empire State Building only started. Each of the projects-rivals had held a title of the highest building within several months while the Empire State Building did not surpass all of them.

In autumn 1930, having taken the palm from the Eiffel Tower (300 m) and Chrysler houses (318 m), the Empire State Building (381 m) amazed by its arrogance bearing a title of the highest structure in the world for more than forty years. Then there was an awful occasion. At the beginning of the 1970’s, the towers of the World Shopping Center (414 and 412 m respectively) not simply deprived the Empire State Building of superiority and commercial prosperity, but also announced radical changes in building capacities.

After twin towers had failed in New York, the Empire State Building became the highest building in this city again.

Economic depression

The time of the skyscraper’s opening coincided with a great economic depression. Not many people could afford to rent an office in this building. Then, the building was even nicknamed by the “Empty State Building”. The building did not bring the income to owners till 1950. Only in 1951, after “sale to Roger Stevens and his partners for 51 million dollars (the record price at those times, paid for a single construction), the building ceased to be unprofitable” (Tauranac, 18). Ten years passed when all rooms were finally leased.

At first, the founders of the skyscraper planned to construct a flat roof to arrange here a platform for dirigible balloons. But then they refused this idea as a platform was an expensive construction and dirigible balloons became unfashionable. In 1950, it was decided to build on the skyscraper a roof with an installed small television tower 447 meters height.

When George Washington referred to New York state as ‘the seat of Empire’ in 1784, he set the seed for the state's long-term nickname which appeared in around 1820 – the Empire State. It is this which appears on state license plates. 

Also, legend has it that when Henry Hudson sailed into what is now New York Harbor, he was so taken by the beauty and majesty of the area that he proclaimed 'This is the new Empire.'  The skyscraper’s name Empire State is an informal name of the State of New York.

Devil invention

The skyscraper got sad glory quickly as it appeared very attractive to suicides. The first suicide occurred in 1933, only 3 years after opening. The same year, there was a film "King Kong" on the screens, and the image of this building appeared strongly connected in consciousness of millions of people with a huge monster climbing up on the walls of the skyscraper. In addition, in 1945, the plane crashed into the 79th floor because of poor visibility. “14 people died, and the damage was one million dollars” (Tauranac, 19).

Great fires happened several times in the Empire State Building. For example, recently, this building has burned at least three times. On August 13th and 15th, 1988, the fire began on the 86th floor and reached the 102nd floor. Fortunately, there were no victims. Then, in 1990, there was a fire again. 38 people were dead this time.

Then people began to say that the skyscraper Empire State Building was almost a devil invention. However, all succeeding businessmen called it nonsense and continued to fight for the right to rent an office in the most respectable building of Manhattan.

'Floodlight'

It is quite easy to find the Empire State Building as the construction well looked from any place in New York.

In 1964, the system of “floodlight was installed on the tower to highlight the top in the color scale corresponding to any events” (Willis,74), memorials or holidays (St. Patrick’s Day, Christmas, etc.). For example, after the eighty-year-old anniversary and the death of Frank Sinatra following it, the illumination of the building was switched on in dark blue tones because of a nickname of the singer «Mr. Blue eyes». After the death of the actress Fay Ray at the end of 2004, the illumination of the tower was switched off completely for 15 minutes.

Traditionally, in addition to usual lighting, the illumination of the building is carried out in colors of New York teams the days when the matches of these teams take place (orange, dark blue, and white for New York Knicks, red, white, and dark blue for New York Rangers, etc.). During the tennis tournament US Open, yellow color (color of a tennis ball) dominates in the illumination. In June, 2002, in the days of celebration of the “anniversary of her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Elizabeth II” (Tauranac, 14), the illumination was purple and gold (colors of the Windzors’ house).

Even in the twenty first century, the technical condition of the building remains free of damages and cracks, it still functions as the largest office center, and over twenty thousand employees are working there. “The owner of the skyscraper is the W&H Properties Corporation, and the tenants of rooms are about 640 companies occupying more than 10000 office rooms” (Tauranac, 14).

The attraction, called New York Sky ride, is also interesting for tourist visiting. It was open in 1994. Having ridden on this attraction, it is possible to receive a complete illusion of air voyage across New York. Passengers of the plane are offered to endure really unforgettable feelings. “The aircraft shakes and twirls because of a storm, and a brave pilot Kevin Bacon tries to keep balance in every way” (Mann, 38). “In the new version of the attraction, the bigger attention is given to an educational and patriotic aspect whereas earlier this roundabout had carried a more entertaining function” (Mann, 39). The “flight” duration is 25 minutes.

Conclusion

In 1986, the Empire State Building was given a status of a national monument of architecture. Annually, it is visited by more than 35 000 tourists not including that more than 50 000 people work in the building (Mann, 3). The skyscraper is one of the most impressive tributes to the twentieth century. These buildings are a celebration of modern technology and innovation. Since its construction, the Empire State Building has symbolized technological progress and economic strength of the United States. The building embodied the refinement of steel construction that had been maturing over the previous decades. 

For not more than one decade, the Empire State Building has been considered a symbol of New York and the whole American state.

If you speak about symbols of America, the Empire State Building will occupy one of the leading places among outstanding buildings of this country. The tower skyscraper entered strongly into hearts of the Americans a long time ago having become not only one of the highest buildings of the USA and the whole world, but also the national sight of North America.

Across the world, skyscrapers are being built that more than double its size. Today the Empire State Building states on the twenty-first place among the tallest skyscrapers of the world (Mann, 13). However, undoubtedly, it was a great achievement for the humanity at those times as the construction of such great sizes managed to be completed successful. The building of such height and weight exists till now without any damages and cracks. And many future generations will be amazed and impressed by it.

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