Built in just 1 year and 45 days, the Empire State Building has stood the test of time and remains a modern marvel to this day.

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waldorf astoria

The original location of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on Fifth Avenue was sold for an estimated $20 million.

The building is demolished and plans for the world's most ambition building project - the Empire State Building - begin.

Hoover Opening Day

Construction of the Empire State Building begins on March 17, 1930. In a record-breaking 1 year and 45 days, the construction of the building is completed and on May 1, 1931, President Hoover officially opens the world's tallest building and turns on the Empire State Building’s lights for the very first time.

In 1933, "King Kong" debuts putting the Empire State Building front-and-center for one of cinema's most famous films

ESB Offices

The Empire State Building had become the headquarters for several major organizations and approximately 15,000 employees.

By this point, the Empire State was among the world’s most profitable buildings and one of its most recognizable and beloved pieces of architecture.


To allow more stations to use the Empire State Building antenna, the building installs a new 222-foot tall, 60-ton antenna.

As a symbol of welcome and freedom to visitors, four large beacon lights are installed at the foot of the tower in 1956. These beacons, which could be seen across the city, were known as “The Freedom Lights.”

Daily Mail Transatlantic Air Race

Lawrence A. Wien, Peter L. Malkin, and Harry B. Helmsley buy the Empire State Building for $65 million. The price, which does not include the land, is the highest ever paid for a single building.

In 1969 the Empire State Building serves as the finish line for the Daily Mail Transatlantic Air Race, which saw 360 “runners” – men and women piloting jets, propeller planes, and helicopters – make the long trans-Atlantic trek from London’s Post Office Tower to New York City.

top of empire state building

The Empire State Building Observatory receives its 50 millionth visitor in 1976.

Today, we welcome millions every year to our incredible observatories!

view of Empire state building

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission declares the Empire State Building a landmark in May 1981.

Valentines Day Wedding

On February 14, 1994, the first Valentine’s Day weddings take place at the Empire State Building.

More than 250 couples have exchanged their vows during the event since its inception.

The annually televised event is covered by news outlets around the globe.

Window Retrofit

In 2009, President Bill Clinton, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Anthony E. Malkin announce the Empire State Building's groundbreaking energy efficiency retrofit program. An unprecedented, multi-year program, it involves a range of tech, systems, and architectural optimizations making it the global model for retrofitting existing buildings. The $65 million modernization program introduces new elevators, climate systems, and technology upgrades and 6,514 ESB windows. Learn more about the Empire State Building's role as a Sustainability Icon.

On September 29, 2009 the newly renovated ceiling in the Fifth Avenue lobby is unveiled, precisely recreated in the image of the original on opening day. 

Want to learn more about this incredible feat? Visit our Design & Architecture page.

2010s - Today

In 2012, the Empire State Building unveils a new LED lighting system capable of 16,000,000 different colors. With this upgrade, the building has even more ways to wow tourists and New Yorkers alike. 

Opening in 2019, after a comprehensive renovation of the 2nd and 80th floor exhibition spaces, a new Empire State Building is revealed. Visitors can now live the Empire State Building experience like never before, stepping into a world of history, pop culture, glamor and NYC culture.

The building’s transformation includes a stunning, reimagined 102nd floor observatory, offering the most breathtaking views the city has to offer.


To mark 90 years, the Empire State Building will kick off a wealth of new offerings, with more announcements on the way throughout the rest of the year.


Follow ESB on Instagram at @EmpireStateBldg to join in the festivities!


Share a your favorite memory of our building—whether it’s your daily walk past our tower, a special visit with a friend, or the time we guided you home from that brunch that went late—on your Instagram story using our special template for the chance to win two tix to our brand-new experience: the 90 in 90 premium tour!

Look out for special posts throughout the month of May where you’ll have the opportunity to win anything from sunrise tickets to our most special & exclusive experience—the All Access tour, complete with champagne and a special luxury gift basket featuring some of our favorite collaborations with high-end brands!

90th anniversary



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