The Empire State Building: From King Kong to IPO

  1. New York's Iconic Skyscraper Through the Years
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    New York's Iconic Skyscraper Through the Years

    Completed during the depths of the Great Depression, the Empire State Building has defined New York's skyline for 81 years. Now Empire State Realty Trust, which owns the building, has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public stock offering that could value the company at $1 billion. Here's a look at the Big Apple's iconic skyscraper through the years.

    Photograph by Getty Images

  2. Rising Above the City
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    Rising Above the City

    A group of construction workers wrestle the building's steel structure into place. Financier John Jakob Raskob commissioned architect William Lamb to build the world's tallest building, in competition with the nearby Chrysler Building. The Empire State Building stood as the world's tallest until 1972, when the World Trade Center was completed.

    Photograph by Lewis W. Hine/George Eastman House via Getty Images

  3. Almost Completed
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    Almost Completed

    At 1,454 feet, the new art deco skyscraper rises above the Chrysler Building, in the background. At its 1931 opening, the Empire State Building was nearly empty, thanks to the Depression. Construction took only one year and 45 days. The building's official opening was marked by President Herbert Hoover switching on its lights from Washington.

    Photograph by Lewis Hine/Getty Images

  4. Disaster in the Fog
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    Disaster in the Fog

    Shortly before 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 28, 1945, a 10-ton B-25 bomber flew into the 78th and 79th floors of the Empire State Building. The explosion blew a hole 18 feet wide and sent one of the bomber's engines through the other side and across 33rd Street onto the roof of another building. Fourteen people died, but the building remained structurally intact.

    Photograph by Ernie Sisto/New York Times via Redux

  5. Devastation at the Crash Site
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    Devastation at the Crash Site

    The B-25 pilot, Lt. Colonel William Smith, had been flying past New York on his way to Newark when he got lost in the fog. He dropped in altitude to get his bearings, only to find himself in the middle of Manhattan.

    Photograph by AP Photo

  6. Date With Destiny
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    Date With Destiny

    The zeppelin Hindenburg floats past the Empire State Building in August 1936. Less than a year later, the German airship would be destroyed in a spectacular fire at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey.

    Photograph by AP Photo

  7. No Job for the Queasy
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    No Job for the Queasy

    A window cleaner using a leather safety harness works on the exterior of the Empire State Building around 1935. A $20 million makeover that began recently will replace all 6,513 windows to reduce energy consumption.

    Photograph by Al Gretz/Getty Images

  8. King Kong Climbs the Walls
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    King Kong Climbs the Walls

    The Empire State Building took its star turn in 1933, when director Merian Cooper chose it as the spot for King Kong's last stand, an epic battle between the giant gorilla and a swarm of airplanes. The doomed Kong and his beautiful object of fascination, Fay Wray, would forever be linked with the skyscraper.

    Photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt/Time & LIFE Pictures/Getty Images

  9. Kong's Last Stand
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    Kong's Last Stand

    After wreaking havoc in the city, King Kong seeks high ground, climbing all 102 stories to the top of the Empire State Building. He manages to knock off an attacking airplane before being overcome and falling to his death. His captor delivers the final line, surveying the crumpled Kong: "It was Beauty that killed the Beast."

    Photograph by AP Photo

  10. Tribute in Light
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    Tribute in Light

    In March 2002, six months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, twin shafts of light represent the fallen towers. Here the "Tribute in Light" is bracketed by the red-white-and-blue Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty.

    Photograph by Stan Honda/Getty Images

  11. View From the Top
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    View From the Top

    Deke Johnson, left, and Tom Silliman perform maintenance on the skyscraper's antenna. Besides the howl of the wind, few sounds reach up from the bustling city.Getting to the top takes 1,872 steps, or you can use one of the 73 elevators.

    Photograph by Vincent Laforet/New York Times

  12. New York's Tallest, Again
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    New York's Tallest, Again

    With the collapse of the World Trade Center's towers, the Empire State Building again became New York's tallest building. It will return to second place once the new One World Trade Center building is completed, in late 2013.

    Photograph by Tom Watson/Getty Images