Holy Crap Accomplishment: Building the Empire State Building

Location: West 33rd Street, NYC

Height: 1,454 feet including its antenna

Built: 13 months, 1930-1931

Opened: May 1, 1931

Reputation: World's tallest building until the construction of the World Trade Center in 1970

Design: Changed 15 times to ensure it would be tallest building.

1st Profitable: early 1950s

Idea: John Raskob:

Grandson of German immigrant,

Son of cigar manufacturer.

Delivered newspapers as a child.

Father died when he was 18 (1898).

1901, hired as personal secretary to Pierre DuPont.

1914: Assistant treasurer.

1918: VP of Finance for DuPont & GM. Early investor in GM and engineered DuPont’s

purchase of GM. (Founded GMAC)

1928: Supported Al Smith (democrat) for NY Gov. Head of GM, Sloan, supported Hoover

(Republican), Sloan demanded Raskob resign. Sold his stock in GM and used it to fund Empire

State Building.

1928: Became Chair of the Democratic National Committee

1929: Interview in Ladies Home Journal: Everybody Out to Be Rich.

1932: Resigned when FDR was elected – he was anit-New Deal. 

Original Plan: 50 stories. Then 80. Height restrictions placed on other buildings, ensuring its reputation as world’s tallest. 66 Elevator Cars.

Competition:   Chrysler Building, 40 Wall Street, already under construction, The "Race into the Sky", country's optimism in the 1920s. Back and forth battle between Chrysler & Empire State Building.          

Funding:  October 24, 1929: New York Stock Exchange crash, beginning of the decade-long Great Depression. Raskob refused to cancel the project, too much progress.  Obtained a $27.5 million loan from Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Construction could begin but depression killed demand for new office space, Raskob and Smith nonetheless started construction, as canceling the project would have resulted in greater losses for the investors.

Complications: NYC lack of space. 200 truck deliveries daily. Temporary driveway on 22rd and 34th street. A series of relay and erection derricks, placed on platforms erected near the building, lifted the steel from the trucks below and installed the beams at the appropriate locations.

Finish: April 11, 1931 (structural) final rivet made of gold shot by NY Governor Al Smith., twelve days ahead of schedule and 410 days after construction commenced

Holy Crap Thinking

Desire: to be the best, in this case, the tallest building in the world.

Competition:   pushed higher – didn’t quit

Creativity:       Necessity spawns creation

Holy Crap Quote:

“Go ahead and do things, the bigger the better, if your fundamentals are sound. Avoid procrastination. Do not quibble for an hour over things that might be decided in minutes. However, if the issue at stake is large, stay as long as the next man, but go ahead and do things.”

“Everybody ought to be rich.”

Holy Crap Challenge:

Think Bigger: Literally. How can you increase the size of your project?

Reach Higher: What outside events or situation can you use as motivation to do more?

Do the Impossible: Why not go for “world best” instead of “pretty good.”?

Share | Download