14 weird facts that you probably didn’t know about the Empire State Building

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Courtney Verrill

85 years ago today, on May 1, 1931, the iconic Empire State Building officially opened for business.

Located in New York City on Fifth Avenue between 33rd and 34th Streets, it is a National Historic Landmark that gets over four million visitors every year.

There are things about the building that you probably already know about, like the popular tourist observatory deck on the 86th floor.

Many facts, though, are not so commonly known. We’ve rounded up 14 of them here.


During the grand opening of the building on May 1, 1931, the traditional ribbon-cutting took place, and the skyscraper’s lights were switched on. The lights were supposedly turned on by President Herbert Hoover in Washington, DC. While Hoover did press a button, the act was purely symbolic — the real switches that turned on the lights were inside the building.

Source: History


When it was first completed, the building was the tallest in the world, at 102 stories and 1,250 feet high (1,454 feet counting the lightning rod). That title was taken away in 1972 when the World Trade Center was built.

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2007
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Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

A total of 3,000 workers took part in the construction, averaging 4.5 floors a week.


It took only one year and 45 days to build.


The budget was $40 million, an astronomical sum in those days.

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2012
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Gary Hershorn/Reuters

The building is not quite an original. The architect, William Frederick Lamb, revived his old designs for the Reynolds Building — a skyscraper built in 1929 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina — to create the Empire State Building. Reynolds Building is now known as its “dad” building, and receives a Father’s Day Card from the Empire State Building every year.

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2014
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Andrew Burton/Getty Images

The Empire State Building has its own zip code: 10118.


There is a secret 103rd floor that is only open to VIPs.

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2013
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John Moore/Getty Images

Source: Daily Mail


On a clear day, people can see 80 miles of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts from the observatory deck.

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2011
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Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Source: CNN


In 1945, a North American B-25 bomber aircraft accidentally crashed into the north wall of the building’s 79th floor, leaving 14 people dead.

Source: Huffington Post


In 1979, a woman jumped off the 86th-floor observatory in a suicide attempt, and lived. A strong gust of wind blew her into the 85th floor, and she only ended up breaking a hip.

Source: CNN


You can get married on the 80th floor. If the couple gets married on Valentine’s Day, they automatically become members of the Empire State Building Wedding Club. They get free admission to the observatory every year on their anniversary.

Source: CNN


There is a lightning rod at the very top of the building’s antenna that takes about 100 strikes of lightning per year.

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2010
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Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Source: Huffington Post


It’s said that couples can sometimes see sparks between them when they kiss, due to the static electricity at the top of the building.

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2012
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John Moore/Getty Images

Source: CNN