Happy Birthday, Empire State Building


Dear Empire State Building,

Happy 80th! Wow, that’s old. You were born (completed, really, is the word) on May 1st, 1931, during the Great Depression. Standing 1,454′ 8 9/166″ tall, you were the tallest building in the world for forty years! A masterpiece of Art Deco design (although — let’s just face it — not as pretty as your sister, the Chrysler Building), you’ve been attracting hordes of clueless tourists for years and years.

Empire State Building, this is your life.

(Factoids courtesy of Wikipedia.)

  • You were completed in a startlingly fast 14 months, racing against 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler Building for the title of tallest building in the world. 3,400 workers built you (five died during construction. Yikes.)
  • You were officially open when President Herbert Hoover turned on your lights all the way from Washington D.C., using magic.
  • The floodlights at the top of you are on and modified for literally every occasion and event you could think of, including St. Patrick’s Day, NYU’s graduation, probably Secretary’s Day or something, and hopefully my birthday (my favorite colors are red and purple).
  • You hold the distinction of being the first building to have over 100 floors.
  • Originally, your famous spire was meant to be a mooring mast for dirigibles.
  • To date, thirty people have killed themselves jumping off of you. Bizarrely, the fence on the observatory terrace wasn’t put in until 1947. So there was literally no fence there before that, which quite frankly is insane.
  • 3.5 million people visit you every year. I did once. It was awful! No offense.
  • Andy Warhol devoted a whole eight-hour movie to you. 1964’s Empire remains, to this day, possibly the most boring art film ever made.

I could go on and on. In sum, you’re the best. Keep it up. Here’s to another 80 years of being the number one tourist trap in New York.

Rosie Gray on behalf of the The Village Voice