May 1 ~  Monuments They Leave Behind Building the Empire State

"Men are only as great as the monuments they leave behind." ~ Napoléon Bonaparte

Empire State Building

On this day in 1931, New York City's signature skyscraper, the Empire State Building, officially opened to the public. From Washington D.C., President Herbert Hoover flipped a switch to light the magnificent Midtown Manhattan landmark.

At the corner of Fifth Avenue and 34th Street, the building was conceived by millionaire investor John Raskob and former New York governor Al Smith, Smith said at the dedication: "A building designed, fashioned, built by the brains, the brawn, the ingenuity, and the muscle of mankind."

Architect William Lamb said of his creation, "One day out and I can still see the building."

One of the world's most famous buildings and a marvel of 20th century engineering, the 102-story building was the world's tallest skyscraper from 1931 to 1971.

"It seems to float above the city in diminishing jetes almost, as if it were a ballerina jumping into the air," described writer John Tauranac.

Built during the Great Depression, over 3,400 workers risked dizzying heights to complete the Art Deco structure under budget and in record time, just 410 days. "Like little spiders they toiled, spinning a fabric of steel against the skay," said The New Yorker.

With gray and red Italian marble interiors and 1,860 stairs to the top, the building has become an historical beacon, adding light and color to the skyline...

Search light honored the Presidential election of hometown boy Franklin D. Roosevelt (1936)...Freedom Lights revolved for hope and peace (1956)... More lights accented the top 30 floors (1964)... and red, white, and blue lights celebrated the bicentennial (1976).

Called "the nearest thing to heaven," by Deborah Kerr's character in An Affair To Remember, the skyscraper has been featured in dozens of films and is visited by nearly four million each year. The view from the 86th floor observation deck is pure panaroma, 360-degrees.

For over 75 years, the Empire State building has been a symbol of American progress and remains a metaphor for life's possibilities.

Leave something great behind.