How do you know that you’re in New York City? Yellow cabs, pushcarts, the electric pulse in the air might all tip you off – but catch sight of the Empire State building and you have, unmistakably, stepped into The Big Apple. The soaring skyscraper, which was dedicated 82 years ago Wednesday, is mythical and majestic, and seems to completely embody the city it has become synonymous with.
New Yorkers may soon be able to own part of the landmark building. A judge on Tuesday removed a major obstacle to real estate mogul Peter L. Malkin’s plan to let the public buy shares in 19 New York City properties, including the Empire State Building. The decision, which overruled objections by a group of current shareholders, moves the city’s architectural crown jewel one step closer to a historic IPO.
The construction of the Empire State building reads like a tall tale. Designed by William F. Lamb, his firm produced drawings of the building in two weeks. From its groundbreaking on January 22, 1930, the skyscraper was built in just 401 days and was simultaneously entered into a competition for “World’s Tallest Building”, along with the Chrysler building and 40 Wall Street. Even as it was being built, the Empire State building was hailed as a feat of American engineering, with 102 floors, 73 elevators, 9,000 faucets, and, with the addition of the spire in 1952, a height of 1,453 feet. The building was so big that it was given its own zip code: 10118. Upon its dedication on May 1, 1931, it was indeed the tallest building in the world, a title it held for 42 years until the dedication of the World Trade Center towers in 1972.
It’s story, since then, has become interwoven with New York’s history. As the city has grown taller, the streets busier, the population denser, the Empire State building has remained a watchful, yet spectacular, presence. It has become not only a symbol, but a witness to the life of a city.