Archive for June, 2017

Empire State Building

Sunday, June 18th, 2017

This breathtaking perspective of the Empire State Building graces the cover of the 12 June 2017 issue of Engineering News Record.  The cover article describes innovative safety features that have been installed to protect workers from  the hazards of high power radio waves emitted by the broadcast antennas on the building’s mast and the public on the street below from dropped tools or debris.


Like many New York schoolchildren, I took a field trip to the Empire State Building and got to gaze out from the open-air 86th floor observation deck and the enclosed 102nd floor.  This was probably in Second Grade, because our teacher, Mrs. Henderson, wanted us to see the grandeur of Pennsylvania Station before it was demolished and replaced by the new Madison Square Garden.

My Dad took me into New York from from my grandmother’s house in Richmond Hill, going to the Museum of Natural History and Hayden Planetarium, the Public Library, and for a ride on the Staten Island ferry.  We would walk over to the Liberty Avenue El, climb the long flights of stairs, he would buy tokens and then go through the turnstile to the platform.  In later years, I could picture this as my Mom would talk of her commute into Manhattan for work.

One time Dad took my brother Tom and me to the Empire State Building, probably when he and I were about 6 and 9 respectively.  Like with the school trip, we took in the 86th floor, peering at the skyline through coin-operated binoculars until the time ran out and the shutter closed.  Back then, before the World Trade Center and Sears Tower had been built, the Empire State building was still the tallest in the world.  I remember getting a cast bronze replica as a souvenir.  To my surprise, there are no scanned photos from this trip, so I need to get the rest of Dad’s slides scanned.

Many years later when Judith and I were dating, we went up the elevator to the same two floors that were open to the public.  So it was a surprise to learn from the article that there is one more floor — the 103rd which has a VIP deck.  I bet my uncle Ed Johnson knew, as he was a mason and topped off the building when it was constructed.  You can see him atop the building on his last day of work, with the Chrysler building in the background.