When 24/7 Wall St. set out to pick the most iconic building in America, we consulted a number of lists, including those from Architectural Digest and American History. We found homes (particularly the White House), churches, government buildings (particularly the Capitol) and monuments (particularly the Lincoln Memorial). Most lists included skyscrapers, some of which were built as long ago as just before the Great Depression. Some were barely a decade old, including One World Trade Center, which was completed in 2014.
Among all these buildings, the one that stood out and took the place of the most iconic building in America was the Empire State Building, completed in 1931, just over 13 months after construction started. Including an antenna at the top of the building, it stands 1,454 feet tall. It was the tallest building in the world at the time and kept that place until the World Trade Center was built in 1970.
The Empire State Building stands at one of Manhattan’s most busy intersections on Fifth Avenue between 33rd and 34th Streets. About 10,000 people visit its observatories every day.
The Empire State Building’s popularity in the United States jumped in 1933 when it was climbed by King Kong in the movie by that name. Kong was killed after fighting several airplanes and plunging over 1,000 feet from the top of the building to the streets below.
The Empire State Building was prominently in the national news again when it was hit by an airplane that was lost in the fog on July 28, 1945. The B-15 Mitchell bomber crash killed 14 people when it hit the north side of the building on the 79th floor. The building’s structural integrity was not damaged.
The Empire State Building is also famous for its architecture. ESBNYC described its design thus in a story titled “The World’s Most Famous Building”:
With its soaring height and signature design, the Empire State Building defines the New York City skyline. The world’s most magnificent Art Deco skyscraper, it’s a living piece of New York history and an instantly recognizable symbol of city culture today.
Our selection as the most iconic building in America will be debated, but what is a good argument without a strong point of view?