The Empire State Building's Dark History

"He is much better off without me … I wouldn’t make a good wife for anybody". (suicide note, woman above)

The Empire State Building is personally my favorite building in America, the most beloved to me; more so than the White House, Washington Monument or any other significantly recognizable structure. At 102 stories and 1,454 feet tall it is seriously impressive. My first time to the observation deck, all I could think about was whether a penny would kill someone. I was terrified one might fall out of my pockets, so I stood back (even though it’s not possibly for one to spill out a pocket to the crowd below). Movies like “Sleepless in Seattle” and “King Kong” romanticized this beautiful art deco styled edifice even more. It possesses what I consider to be the observation deck for America.

The next thing one thinks of up where the winds are howling is how freaking far down it is and what kind of state of mind people would have to be in to choose that way to die. Not only are they serious about dying, but in a symbolic way, liberating themselves as they fly for the first and last time.

Strange facts about the building: It was built with a mooring for blimps, but later nixed the idea as it was too unsafe (duh). In 1945, a small plane crashed into the 79th floor. The people on the plane were all killed. The building has colored light displays they show off during different holidays.

Suicide: More than 30 people have jumped to their death from the Empire State Building.

Most beautiful fall:
 1947: 23-year-old Evelyn McHale jumped and landed on a United Nations Limousine (photo above) Andy Warhohl used the visual later for a piece of art entitled “Suicide.” This was just after the building opened and 5 more tried to jump within a 3-week period.

Most botched attempt: On December 2, 1979, Elvita Adams jumped from the 86th floor, only to be blown back onto the 85th floor and left with a broken hip.

Most surprising: 2007: A lawyer on the 69th floor was interviewing a client, then got up, opened the window and jumped.

Most recent: 2010: 21-year-old male Yale student jumped.

They ain’t just jumping: On February 24, 1997, a Palestinian gunman shot seven people on the observation deck, killing one, then fatally wounding himself.

Penny Myth: If you drop a penny off the Empire State Building, will it actually kill someone below? Nope! Busted on “Mythbusters.” Terminal velocity means that force exerted by air keeps the speed constant.

I remember being in the Empire State Building when they were still erecting the Twin Towers. I went back later once the towers were done and they made the Empire State Building seem like a dwarf and yet I never wanted to visit those sleek sharp-angled buildings for a better view. The Empire State Building always has had my heart and always will. It has made it into the list of American icons and a symbol of our fast growth in the 20th Century.