and Eiffel’s office has been opened to tourists. The exclusive Le Jules Vernes restaurant occupies the second level. During the Paris millennium celebrations of 2000, the tower was covered with thousands of small lights that nightly illuminated the gracious “iron lady” of Paris.

See also

Maria-Pia Bridge

Further reading

Marrey, Bernard. 1984. The Extraordinary Life and Work of Monsieur Gustave Eiffel. Paris: Graphite.

Sechi-Johnson, Patricia, 1997. 100 Greatest Manmade Wonders. Danbury, CT: Grolier.

Steiner, Frances H. 1984. French Iron Architecture. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research Press.

Empire State Building

New York City

For forty-one years from 1931, the Empire State Building was the tallest tower in the world. That distinction has since been wrested and rewrested by a series of successors. The 102-story building, covering its 2-acre (0.8-hectare) Park Avenue site and soaring to 1,252 feet (417 meters), was completed in the incredibly short time of 1 year and 45 days; in fact, the time from the decision to build to the letting of office space was only 27 months. Because of the precise planning and exacting project management that achieved such efficiency, this most familiar of all skyscrapers is one of the great architectural feats of the twentieth century.

The Empire State Company was formed in 1929 by John Jacob Raskob (General Motors’ chief executive), the industrialist Pierre S. du Pont, the politician Coleman du Pont, Louis G. Kaufman, and Ellis P. Earl. Raskob invited Alfred A. Smith, the New York State governor until 1929, with whom he had political ties, to become president of the corporation. The two men became the prime movers of the project. The 35-year-old Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Thirty-fourth Street, was bought for about $16 million from the Bethlehem Engineering Corporation and demolished to make way for the new building. The architects Richmond H. Shreve, Arthur Loomis Harmon, and William Lamb (who did much of the design work) were initially commissioned to create a 50-story, 650-foot-high (195-meter) office block. But the scheme would go through more than 15 revisions before emerging as an 86-story, 1,252-foot (375-meter) tower. Last-minute revisions would further increase it to 102 floors and a height, including its mast, of 1,472 feet (450 meters). The structural engineers were H. G. Balcom and Associates.

Shreve, Harmon, and Lamb produced a steel-framed, art deco tower whose marble-clad, five-story base covered the whole site. From a 60-foot (18-meter) setback at the fifth floor, it rose uninterrupted to the 86th floor. The upper levels were faced with silver buff Indiana limestone and granite, and the verticality of the facade was emphasized by continuous mullions of chrome-nickel steel. The office floors were served by seventy-three elevators.

The esthetics of the design were hardly remarkable, and the building was either ignored or criticized by the aficionados of the sterile European Modernism—so-called international architecture—then being touted in North America. For the present purpose, the Empire State’s artistic qualities are inconsequential, because its significance lies in the fact that the architects made a design that, in the contractor’s words, was “magnificently adapted to speed in construction.” And speed was of the essence: the clients announced an 80-story building in August 1929 and forecast the completion date: 1 May 1931.

The firm of Starrett Brothers and Eken won the contract, estimated at $50 million. The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel was demolished within a month, and site excavation began on 22 January 1930, digging 55 feet (16.7 meters) below ground to the gray Manhattan bedrock. Construction started just under two months later, and through the meticulous construction scheduling of the chief engineer, Andrew Eken, it proceeded at record pace. Materials suppliers were asked to deliver goods as they were needed, so there was no need for on-site storage in the downtown area. When materials arrived on-site—at the busiest time, that meant almost 500 deliveries daily—they were immediately hoisted to the appropriate floor and transported by railways to their final location for