The Empire State Building, an Engineering Miracle!!!


the Empire State Building one of the

landmarks of New York it has often been

regarded as the eighth wonder of the



381 meters high for nearly half a

century it was the tallest structure on

earth with 102 floors it towers over the

skyline of Manhattan everyday up to

60,000 people enter and leave this

building at 350 Fifth Avenue has the

population of a medium-sized town


erected in a record 18 months the Empire

State Building was opened on May the 1st

1931 one of the most famous skyscrapers

in the world it has since become a



in 1871 large parts of Chicago were

destroyed in a great fire whole areas

had to be rebuilt the reconstruction

work marked the start of an

architectural revolution the skyscraper

was born


with building land in short supply the

new method of construction also proved

popular in New York soon the two cities

were locked in a unique contest that was

all about prestige a race to construct

the world's tallest building John Jacob

Raskob the founder of General Motors

desperately wanted to emerge victorious

in order to turn his version into

reality he sold his shares in GM for

twenty million dollars Blas Cobb had a

dream for New York times were good the

American economy was experiencing a

tremendous boom and Fifth Avenue was

becoming what it still is today the top

address in Manhattan luxury stores

opened up in the heart of the city


in the late 1920s the famous Waldorf

Astoria Hotel was a symbol of wealth

splendor and social standing that

attracted the New York upper class like

a magnet

but Raskob was only interested in the

site itself he bought the hotel for

sixteen million dollars and on August

the 29th 1929 the New York Times

reported that the Waldorf Astoria was

about to be demolished


Raskob had no time for sentimentality in

who's who he described himself as a

professional capitalist but only two

months later raskov and the whole of

America suffered a stunning blow on

Black Friday the New York Stock Exchange

experienced the greatest collapse in

history in just six days

investors lost fifty billion dollars

brass cops financing plans were looking

desperate but he was in lucked the

Metropolitan Life Insurance Company

granted him a substantial loan however

the interest repayments left raskov

little leeway the project had to be

completed as swiftly as possible the

construction schedule could scarcely

have been tighter the Empire State

Building had to be erected in only

eighteen months a race against time

began a monumental construction project

called for exceptional architects the

choice fell on Shrieve lamb and harmon

associates in one meeting with William

lamb Russ got past the architect how

high he could build without the

skyscraper toppling over in the end the

building reached a height of 381 meters


only a stone's throw away the Chrysler

Building was also intended to become the

world's tallest structure it's planned

height was kept a secret

so Raskob had to make doubly sure he

ordered the addition of five more floors

plus a 60 metre hide docking facility

for airships thus the Empire State

Building literally put its neighbor in

the shape

geologically Manhattan is an ideal

location for skyscrapers because the

bedrock is regarded as earthquake proof

only a few weak tremors are experienced

every now and then in 1934 countless

immigrants America was the land of

opportunity the Empire State Building

was intended to show just what America

was capable of

however this prestigious project faced

restrictive building laws for instance

Raskob could only use about half the

land he had bought and regulations in

force at the time generally required

skyscrapers to taper towards the top the

stylet brothers and ikan company applied

for the construction contract and

submitted convincing innovative concepts

especially built railway line and short

just-in-time supplies this avoided

unnecessary obstruction through building

material being stacked up in the streets


the equipment wasn't hired as was

customary but purchased and resold when

the project was finished because the

equipment was new teams were able to

work faster and more efficiently up to

three thousand people were involved in

the mammoth project the Empire State

Building sight was often a far from

inviting workplace

most of the construction workers were

Native Americans who had no fear of

heights and who could balance on the

steel girders hurry above the roofs of

New York in all the projects claimed 14



ruskov chose the marble for the building

very carefully for the facade he ordered

over 30,000 square meters of

high-quality marble from Italy and


the quarry is on the other side of the

Atlantic undertook to supply material

that had been cut exactly to size and

polished he planned the production of

steel for the building with the same

care works in Pittsburgh were given

detailed structural plans that specified

how many rivets would be needed orders

for more than 60,000 tons of steel were

placed each girder was given an index

number which indicated the delivery date

and where it was to be installed only 80

hours after being cast the sections for

the steel skeleton had reached their

destination on Fifth Avenue

even when judged by modern standards the

logistics and coordination verge on the


the Statue of Liberty was a prominent

forerunner of steel skeleton

construction in 1886 Gustave Eiffel made

an important technology transfer with

his gift to the United States the

principle is still standard in

skyscraper construction even today

but I feel created the perfect example

of a steel construction for his French

homeland and he took just 26 months

built for the World Exhibition in 1889

for a long time the Eiffel Tower was the

tallest structure in the world

using his experience of building bridges

Eiffel constructed the tower with

maximum wind permeability the structure

consists of 15,000 steel parts


considering the structural volume the

eiffel tower is extremely light it

weighs only 7,500 tons it's four legs

rest on a massive concrete base so the

weight pressing on the ground is only

about four and a half kilograms per

square centimeter that's about the same

pressure a chair leg exerts and

supporting a person of average went

steel skeleton structures have other

advantages where conventional buildings

are concerned it can be said that the

higher they are the more stable their

walls are but for an architectural

giants like the Empire State Building

the supporting walls would have to be so

thick that there would be no room for

such a spacious reception hall a steel

skeleton however transfers the weight

not to the walls but to the foundations

the facade is merely attached to the

skeleton like a curtain the advantages

are obvious with their relatively low

weight such constructions guarantee

extremely high stability and they can be

erected very quickly most of the parts

are prefabricated to size by the steel

works and to simply riveted together on


the weight of the Empire State Building

is borne by a total of 210 pillars a

seemingly unshakeable steel ball that at

least is what the architects thought in

1930 they could never have foreseen the

madness of September the 11th 2001 it

was burning kerosene that caused the

steel girders of the World Trade Center

to melt experts cannot agree whether the

buildings would have collapsed had the

fuel tanks of the aircraft that struck

them been empty it's possible that the

steel skeleton could have withstood the

mere impact


despite their size steel structural

components have a tolerance of less than

half a millimeter this precision also

enables intermediate elements to be

prefabricated and installed in the shell

construction later with the Empire State

Building this was all done in the form

of piece wood 20,000 square meters of

glass for the 6,500 windows had to be

cut to size

an army of bricklayers was hired to line

the internal walls with 10 million

bricks gradually the skeleton was filled

with life the 15,000 telephones and more

than 5,000 kilometers of cable needed

for the building pushed the Bell

Telephone Company to its limits

incredible quantities of doorknobs taps

locks and radiators had to be fitted the

construction costs totaled 41 million

dollars nine million less than Raskob

had calculated the Empire State Building

was completed four and a half months

earlier than planned as a rule people

are not prepared to walk up more than

five floors and so the development of

the lift was of decisive importance to

skyscraper construction the

steam-powered lift was invented in 1852

by Elijah graves otis five years later

it was being used in New York for

transporting passengers a quarter of a

century later notice his sons Charles

and Norton presented the first hydraulic

lift not only was it safer than its

predecessors it was cheaper to operate

the hydraulic system utilized the

pressure from the pipes of the munis old

in 1903 the first electric lift entered

operation in the beaver building in New

York electric lifts could reach any

height required and were much faster one

veteran from this era is still in

service in the Woolworth Building and

gives visitors are slow but nostalgic

ride anyone heading for the top floor

has to be patient but with the speed of

12.7 km/h back then the Woolworth left

was a real racer the size of the Empire

State Building called for an effective

logistics system for limits and it too

has stood the test of time some lifts

only serve certain floors this avoids

long waiting times eleven kilometers of

lift shafts and 67 lifts ensure that

people reach their destination as

swiftly as possible at 22 kilometers an

hour the lifts are almost as fast as

their counterparts in what is currently

the world's tallest building

it stands in Kuala Lumpur the capital

malaysia the petronas towers saw up

above the mega city to a height of 450

meters but giant buildings over 500

meters high are already being planned

just where will this race happen will be

one day see buildings with more people

in them than a large town


John Jacob Raskob was a man of vision he

built for eternity but in reaching for

the stars he started a race in which he

himself long since became history