Evelyn McHale: A Beautiful Death on 33rd Street

Keith York City

When the Empire State Building officially opened in 1931, it was an engineering marvel: by far the tallest structure on the planet, and built in just 16 months during the depths of the Great Depression. Though the weak economy caused it to sit almost empty for many of its earlier years, the building’s lofty observation deck drew crowds in immense numbers. In fact, the building’s owners made roughly as much in observation deck ticket sales during its first operational year as it collected from office rentals in the tower itself.

The observation decks on the 86th and 103rd floors were an instant hit. Tourists and locals alike happily took rides in the building’s sleek high-speed elevators hundreds of feet above the street to absorb the breathtaking views, which on clear days, stretched all the way to Connecticut.

But the building also became rather quickly known for something far more tragic. One…

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