May-1-1931: An American Icon Premiers- The Empire State Building

Today marks the opening of an American icon – The Empire State Building.  Built in 15 months and opened on May 1, 1931, it surpassed the Chrysler building as the world’s tallest building.  It remained the world’s tallest skyscraper for 42 years until surpassed by the World Trade Center.

The opening of a huge office building away from downtown and during the Great Depression left much of its space vacant at first, giving it the title of the “Empty State Building.’  It would not become profitable until 1950.

Two years after it opened, its most famous visitor took an alternative route to its now famous observation deck.


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