Day Seventeen

In the afternoon we visited the Empire State Building (ESB). We were informed of zero visibility up on the observation deck on top of ESB because of the bad weather before we started ascending. However, now that we are here, isn't it a regret if we don't ascend to the top? So we took the elevator to the top of ESB. We looked into the distance and, sure enough, everything was in haziness. Waterland sighed with emotion: It would be a regret if we would not have climbed to the top, but even if we had climbed to the top it remained a regret!

ESB was named after Empire State, a nickname of New York State. It is located at 350 Fifth Avenue (between 33rd and 34th Streets) in New York City and was constructed on the site of the former Astoria Hotel. The construction started on March 17, 1930. Cornerstone was laid on September 17, 1930 by former New York governor Alfred E. Smith. The construction took just over 18 months and was completed about a month and half ahead of schedule and about $5 million under budget. President Herbert Hoover officially opened the building on May 1, 1931 by pressing a button from the White House that turned on the building's lights. Tallest building in the world from 1931-1972, ESB was surpassed by One World Trade Center. However, ESB regained the city's "tallest" title on September 11, 2001.

There are several numbers to describe the height of ESB. The total height of the building, including the lightning rod, is 1,454 feet. The height of the building from the ground to its tip is usually given as 1,250 feet. The measurement from the ground to the 102nd floor observatory is 1,224 feet and from the ground to the 86th floor observatory is 1,050 feet. There are 1,575 steps from the lobby to the 86th floor and 1,860 steps from street level to 102nd floor.

The building was constructed with 10 million bricks and 60,000 tons of structural steel. It incorporates 1,886 kilometers (1,172 miles) of elevator cables, 6,400 windows and weighs 331,000 tons.

The facade is composed of more than 200,000 cubic feet of Indiana limestone and granite, and utilizes several setbacks to offset the optical distortion of its 102-story height. Initially the building was intended to have a flat roof until a "hat" or metal-plated tower on top of the building was designed. It initially served double duty as a zeppelin mooring mast and an observatory. Yet it was used for only one zeppelin landing because the winds were too strong at such heights making mooring dangerous and also because the golden age of zeppelins was quickly slipping into the past. A broadcasting antenna was added to the building in 1951 putting the almost vacant metallic tower at the top to use as a storage area for broadcasting equipment. The height of the antenna has been increased from 1,454 feet to 1,472 feet.

ESB is a legend. Built in the midst of the Depression, it was, and still remains a testament to American fortitude and ingenuity. The building itself cost $24,718,000 to build (nearly half the expected cost because of the Great Depression). Including the property on which the building sits, the total cost for ESB was $40,948,900.

An international icon, ESB has been visited by more than 117 million people, who come to marvel at the 80-mile view into New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts. However, history witnessed some tragedies here. On a Saturday morning in July 1945, a US B-25 Bomber crashed into the 79th floor offices of the Catholic War Relief Services. 14 people died. Despite suffering some fire damage and a 20-foot gash, ESB opened back up for business on Monday. At least 32 people jumped to their deaths off the observation deck on the top during the deck's operation.

Soon after opening ESB became a major tourist attraction, attracting many famous people, including the French Prime Minister, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Pope Pius XII, Fidel Castro and Queen Elisabeth II, to name a few. ESB was declared Landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission on May 18, 1981. It was listed on State & National Register of Historic Places on December 20, 1982. It was declared a National Historic Landmark on October 23, 1986. At present, ESB is mostly filled with rentable space for businesses.

After the 9.11 incident, everyone who enters ESB should go through the security check for fear that terrorists should attack it. Though the security check procedure here is not so strict as that at the airport, visitors should be asked to go zigzag along a line ten times longer than the short way directly into the elevator.

When we left ESB, it was getting dark and we went to the hotel. Milford Plaza Hotel is a hotel with a high rate of occupation as it is located close to Broadway. Visitors who have come to Broadway from all corners of the globe will surely stay in here. I used the hotel in 2005. Its conditions were satisfactory if we didn't care the small capacity of the rooms.

Disney's musical play The Lion King

In the evening, we watched Disney's musical play The Lion King in a Broadway theater.

Here is a plot summary for it. The king of all lions, Mufasa has a baby called Simba. This greatly angers Mufasa's brother Scar, who would have been next in line to the throne. Scar plots to kill Simba and Mufasa, and leads them to a gorge. There Mufasa is killed by a herd of Wildebeest, and Simba is led to believe by Scar that he is responsible for his death. Simba then flees the kingdom in shame, and Scar becomes king of the pridelands. After several years, in which time Simba has grown up, he returns with the help of some new friends to the pridelands, where he has a final battle with Scar and wins back the pridelands, completing the "Circle of Life".