As a photographer for the Federal Works Agency, in 1930, Lewis Wickes Hine took this photo of a worker fastening bolts on a beam of the Empire State Building during its construction. The photo is online via the U.S. National Archives. Click on it for a full-page view.


The original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel once stood where the Empire State Building was constructed (at 350 Fifth Avenue) in 1930.  It took just over a year to finish what was then the tallest building in the world.

Who actually did the work?  How did they build it so fast?  What did the famous landmark look like during its birth year?

Lewis M. Hine took stunning photographs of the workers.  Many of those pictures are available for online viewing, at the New York Public Library's website. 

Historical footage, of the work in process, also shows men - seemingly on the edge of safety - as they worked in teams to create a modern marvel

Theodor Horydczak’s photographs of the Empire State Building, taken in the 1930s, have also been digitized by the Library of Congress. Let’s examine a representative sampling:

  • A view from 41st Street and 5th Avenue, on July 3, 1933 - four months after the March 2, 1933 release of the original King Kong film.

  • On the 4th of July, 1933, the building - at 102 stories - was the tallest in the world.

  • At the time, it dominated the Manhattan skyline

Samuel Gottscho’s photographs, also digitized by the Library of Congress, add to our understanding of New York City as it appeared in the 1930s:

Against this historical backdrop - when people in a previously vibrant city were “down on their luck” because of the depression - RKO Studio released King Kong, a movie which featured the city and its tallest building.

Like their predecessors, Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake and Jordan Vogt-Roberts' 2017 reboot require us to take another trip back in time - much further back - to the days of the dinosaurs. Could such creatures have existed on a place like the fictional (and primordial) "Skull Island?"

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5155stories and lessons created

Original Release: Dec 01, 2005

Updated Last Revision: Sep 01, 2017

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"THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING" AwesomeStories.com. Dec 01, 2005. Jul 17, 2018.
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