It was to be a structure like no other - the largest and tallest skyscraper in the world. Initial plans for the Empire State Building called for an Art Deco masterwork to rise 1,000 feet, with 80 stories of rental space. The high-rise was to completely fill the 84,000-square-foot site of the former Waldorf-Astoria, then New York's most opulent hotel. The Empire State Building would, hopefully, accelerate Midtown's stride toward commercial prominence, pulling more business uptown. Built in the early years of the Great Depression, during which one out of four New Yorkers was out of work, the Empire State Building's construction was thought by many to be a foolish undertaking. Yet, it was completed under budget and ahead of schedule, and the new commercial colossus would stand to see a new day dawning - for New York, for America, and for the world.
Ronald A. Reis has written young adult biographies of Eugenie Clark, Jonas Salk, Mickey Mantle, and Ted Williams, as well as books on the Dust Bowl, the New York Subway System, African Americans and the Civil War, and the World Trade Organization, all for Chelsea House. He is the technology department chair at Los Angeles Valley College.