Designated May 19, 1981
The Empire State Building is a symbol of New York City and the building boom of the affluent 1920’s. It was built as a speculative office building by the Empire State Company which was led by former General Motors executive John J. Raskob and former Governor Al Smith.
With an average construction rate of four and a half floors per week it only took thirteen and a half months to complete. Many of the workers were Irish and Italian immigrants, with a sizable minority of Mohawk ironworkers from the Kahnawake reserve near Montreal.
The building’s large antenna was originally designed to be a dirigible mast and the observation deck was for passengers boarding and exiting. Although it was never used for its intended function the observation deck helped make the Empire State Building one of the most famous and visited buildings in the world, and the antenna helped to make it the tallest building in the world from 1931-1972. In a ceremony held in Washington D.C., President Herbert Hoover officially opened the Empire State Building to the public, remotely pressing a button that illuminated the building’s iconic lights on May 1, 1931.
Both the exterior and the ground floor interior are designated New York City Landmarks and it was named a National Historic Landmark in 1986.
STATUS Designated Exterior and Interior Landmark
Midtown is home to some of the city's most iconic buildings, including the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and the headquarters of the United Nations, as well as the Rockefeller Center, Broadway, and Times Square. Midtown is sometimes split into three sections including Midtown...Explore the Neighborhood >
“I don’t know what the City would be without HDC. [They] testified before LPC time after time and helped us focus on the right issues. We would not be an historic district without HDC! ”
Doreen Gallo: DUMBO Neighborhood Alliance
“Use HDC as a resource because they know what they are doing and can offer advice on how to go about creating a district from every front: architectural, political, LPC, and the media. I had floundered prior to my involvement with this invaluable organization.”
Fern Luskin: Lamartine Place Historic District; Friends of Lamartine Place & Gibbons Underground Railroad Site
“HDC provided guidance and shared information during that process—we knew which Council members were going one way or another and we changed a few minds. I don’t think NoHo would have had as cohesive a district had it not been for HDC’s aid.”
Zella Jones: NoHo Historic District; NoHo East; and NoHo Extension
“I remember Richard saying at a meeting, we have someone here from HDC, Nadezhda Williams, Director of Preservation and Research, to help us. She said to us, ‘You are not the only ones going through this.’ HDC included us in an enormous community”
Erika Petersen: West End Preservation Society
"HDC has begun a series of projects to highlight the Bronx's architectural and cultural history. From booklet's and research highlighting specific sites and historic districts to the HDC's symposium in October 2018 to the latest community-based committee to look into further possible sites to qualify for landmarking, the HDC has established projects that will serve the Bronx community well."
City Lore, Folklorist
Bronx Music Heritage Center, Co-Artistic Director
"Welcome2TheBronx is grateful for the advocacy done by the Historic Districts Council on behalf of the people of The Bronx. Through their deep connections and understanding of the importance of preserving our local histories, The Bronx has been able to have several spotlights shown on endangered communities as gentrification creeps into the borough."
Ed García Conde,
founder and Executive Director,