Hi, I'm Ben Arrona, here for About.com. I'm a historian with a Master's degree in American History, and this is a profile of the Empire State Building.It was the tallest building in the world when it opened to the public on May 1, 1931. The Empire State Building pierced the New York skyline at a dizzying 1,250 feet and was the crowning achievement of skyscraper building until the latter half of the 20th Century. Beginning with Paris' Eiffel Tower in 1889, a race to build taller and taller buildings had begun in the major cities of the industrialized world. In the United States, the Woolworth Building, at 792 feet, and the Bank of Manhattan Building at 927 feet, both in New York City, reigned supreme.In 1929, John Jakob Raskob and a group of partners decided to build a skyscraper that would be the tallest the world had ever seen. Complicating matters, however, was the fact that their primary competition for that honor, the Chrysler Building, was already under construction and had a final height that was being kept secret until its completion. Raskob and his group purchased property at the intersection of 34th Street and Fifth Avenue, the site of the original Waldorf Astoria Hotel.After demolishing the existing structure, builders Starrett Bros. & Eken began erecting the Empire State Building's steel skeleton on March 17, 1930. A model of efficiency in both engineering and construction, the Empire State Building was completed in just one year and 45 days, at a cost of just under $41 million dollars. With the Chrysler Building coming it at 1,046 feet, the Empire State Building's 1,250 foot height would make it the tallest building in the world until the completion of the World Trade Center Towers in 1972.Here are some quick facts on the building: when including its lightning rod in the measurement, the Empire State Building is 1,454 feet tall. It has 102 floors, with observatories on the 102nd and 86th floors. At the peak of the construction efforts, 3,400 people were working on the building at one time. In all, the Empire State Building's construction was the product of seven million man-hours and 57,000 tons of steel.Thanks for watching. To learn more, visit us on the web at About.com.
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