The Empire State Building, a 102-story Art Deco building in New York City, was designed by Shreve, Lamb & Harmon Associates and built in 1930. It is 390 m to the 102nd floor observatory; it is the tallest building in the city (before the construction, and following the destruction, of the World Trade Center), and was the tallest building in the world for many years. The construction was hurried to completion, in order to take the title of "world's tallest building" from the Chrysler Building. The Empire State Building was officially opened on May 1, 1931. Much of the office space went unrented until the 1940s.
A public observatory at the top of the building offers impressive views of the city, and is a popular tourist destination. Floodlights illuminate the top of the building at night, in colors chosen to match seasonal and other events; they were red, white, and blue for several months after the destruction of the World Trade Center, then reverted to marking holidays.
Perhaps the most famous popular culture representation of the building is in the 1933 film King Kong, in which the title character, a giant ape, climbs to the top to escape his captors, and eventually dies by falling off of it. In 1983, for the 50th anniversary of the film, an inflatable King Kong was placed on the real Empire State Building. However, a mouse chewed through it one day, partially deflating the ape. He also needed a constant supply of air, and was never fully inflated. The observation deck was the designated site for romantic rendezvous in the films Love Affair and Sleepless In Seattle and a phony Martian invasion in an episode of I Love Lucy. An episode of the puppet science fiction series Thunderbirds involves an attempt to move the building on tracks to a new location.
At 9:49 a.m. on Saturday July 28, 1945, a B-25 Mitchell bomber accidentally crashed into the north side at the 79th floor, where the offices of the National Catholic Welfare Council were located. The fire was extinguished in 40 minutes. In the accident 13 people were killed.
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