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5 Historical Facts About the Empire State Building

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New York’s tallest building is one of the most popular attractions on our New York student tours, and it’s no wonder; the Empire State Building is an American cultural icon with a fascinating history. Before traveling up to the 102nd floor of this Art Deco masterpiece, check out these fun and historical facts about the Empire State Building.

 1. Possibly Named by George Washington?

It is a known fact that the Empire State Building is named after New York’s nickname, “the Empire State.” What is not known is the origin of the nickname itself; though there are several theories, many believe President George Washington coined it during the American Revolutionary War.

2. An Engineering Feat

Completed in less than a year and a half, the construction of the Empire State Building involved 3,400 workers, many of whom were European immigrants and Mohawk iron workers. Standing as the world’s tallest building from 1931 to 1967, the structure is listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.

3. “The Empty State Building”

Having opened during the Great Depression, the high-priced building struggled to find renters. As a result, New Yorker’s began referring to it as “the Empty State Building.” Despite its current success, the Empire State Building didn’t become profitable until 1950.

4. New York City’s Biggest Film Star

Featured in over 90 movies, the Empire State Building has played large roles in famous films such as King Kong and Sleepless in Seattle. Lesser-known pictures include Empire, an eight-hour silent film by Andy Warhol that consists of a continuous nighttime shot of the iconic building.

5. World’s Tallest LEED-Certified Building

During a 2009 renovation, $12 million was spent on transforming the structure into an energy-efficient and eco-friendly building. In 2011, it became the tallest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified building in the world.

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