Document of the Month, May 2016: Photograph of the Empire State Building, New York

Allyson Lewis, Archivist

D/DWt Z3/9

For our May Document of the Month, we have chosen to highlight a photograph from one of the many albums compiled by Colonel Francis Whitmore of Orsett Park.

Col Whitmore travelled extensively during 1930 and 1931. His travels took him around the world via Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Vancouver and Winnipeg before arriving in April 1931 in New York.  He took this photograph of the Empire State Building, perhaps the first photograph taken by an Englishman of the newly completed building.

D-DWt Z3-9 empire state building 1080 watermarked

Construction of the building began on 17 March 1930.  Many Mohawk Iron workers worked on the project which was completed 12 days ahead of schedule on 11 April 1931.    The structure stands 102 storeys high and is 381 m high to the top of the roof, but 443 m high if the radio antenna is included.

The building was opened on 1 May 1931 by President Herbert Hoover switching the lights on from Washington DC and the grandchildren of Governor A J Smith, president of Empire State Inc. the construction company for the project, cutting the ribbon in New York.

The construction of the building was part of the race to build the tallest building in New York.  The Chrysler Building and 40 Wall Street each held the title for less than a year as the completed Empire State building surpassed them all.

Col Whitmore was there to record the completion of what has become such an iconic landmark.

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