National Parks and Monuments
History of the Empire State Building

History of the Empire State Building
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 9
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.76

     challenging words:    unrented, excavation, stevens, mansion, operation, investment, construction, price, business, complex, record, observation, million, tore, property, until
     content words:    Empire State Building, Fifth Avenue, New York City, New York, American Society, Civil Engineers, Seven Wonders, Modern World, World Trade Center Towers, Trade Center Towers

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History of the Empire State Building
By Joyce Furstenau

1     One of the most well known landmarks in the world is the Empire State Building. It is located at 350 Fifth Avenue in New York City, New York. This 102-story landmark was completed in 1931. The American Society of Civil Engineers designated the building as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. It was the world's tallest building until 1972 when New York City's World Trade Center Towers were constructed. After the Trade Center Towers were destroyed in 2001, the Empire State Building was once again the tallest building in New York.
2     The site was once a farm owned by John Thompson in 1799. The land was sold to Charles Lawton for $10,000 in 1825. In 1827 William Backhouse Astor purchased the land as an investment for $20,500. The Astor brothers began building their mansions on the property. In 1893, William Waldorf Astor tore down his mansion on Fifth Avenue and built the Waldorf Hotel there. His aunt, Mrs. William Backhouse Astor, who had her mansion next door, tore down her mansion next and erected the Astoria Hotel. The new complex was called the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel was sold to Bethlehem Engineering Corporation for around $20 million in 1928. This was to be the site for the Empire State Building. The building took its name from one of New York's nicknames, "The Empire State."
3     Excavation began on January 22, 1930. On March 17, construction began. By May 1, 1931, the ribbon was cut, and the Empire State Building was officially opened. Herbert Hoover, President of the United States, was able to turn on the lights with the push of a button from Washington, D.C. As the tallest building in the world at the time, the observation deck took in approximately 2 million dollars in its first year of operation. Even so, the Great Depression left most of the rooms unrented, and it was nicknamed "The Empty State Building."

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