How Tall Is The Empire State Building: A Skyward Journey through Its Height and Records

By: Evan Scoboria, Last updated: May 28, 2023

From the hustle and bustle of New York City's streets, one architectural marvel has stood out, reaching for the sky for nearly a century—the Empire State Building. When people think of the New York skyline, this iconic skyscraper often springs to mind, its peak often shrouded in clouds or glowing in the evening. But how tall is this famous monument of human ambition? What records does it hold in the annals of architectural history? And how does it compare to other giants in the world of skyscrapers? This article will take you on a journey upwards, exploring the impressive dimensions of the Empire State Building, its comparison with other tallest buildings in the world, and some fascinating records it held for decades. We'll also look at one of the most exciting and unique events held in this building—the Empire State Building Run-Up. So, let's buckle up and set our sights high!

Empire State Building

Empire State Building: Height and Records

The Skyward Journey: How Tall is the Empire State Building?

The Empire State Building, including its antenna, measures 1,454 feet (443.2 meters) tall. Even without the antenna, the roof of the building itself still reaches a sky-high 1,250 feet (381 meters). This measurement comprises 102 floors, including the main roof and the additional height of its prominent spire.

The building's spire, stretching 204 feet (62 meters) above the roof, was initially designed to serve as a mooring mast for airships. However, the idea quickly fizzled out due to dangerous updrafts and the practical difficulties in anchoring the airships while passengers embarked and disembarked. Today, the spire is purely decorative, contributing to the building's iconic silhouette.

The antenna, which extends the building's total height to 1,454 feet, is more than a tall ornament—it plays a critical role in broadcasting for many of New York City's media stations.

Additional Empire State Building Dimensions

While the Empire State Building's height is its most notable characteristic, many other dimensions make this skyscraper a marvel of architecture and engineering. Here's a closer look at some of these impressive figures:

  1. Total Floor Area: The Empire State Building has an area of approximately 2.77 million square feet. This space includes offices, restaurants, broadcast stations, and observatories.

  2. Number of Floors: The building boasts a total of 102 floors. However, when visiting, you might notice the elevators only list 80 floors, and that's because the top 22 floors are primarily for broadcasting and maintenance.

  3. Foundation Depth: The foundation of the Empire State Building extends 55 feet below ground, and this solid foundation was critical for supporting the enormous weight of the structure.

  4. Width: The Empire State Building has a base covering about 2 acres, each measuring approximately 424 feet long.

  5. Weight: The total weight of the Empire State Building is estimated to be around 365,000 tons. This includes the steel framework, concrete, and masonry work, as well as all the interior furnishings and equipment.

  6. Elevator Travel: The building's elevators can travel up to a speed of 1,200 feet per minute. Reaching the 80th floor from the lobby takes less than a minute.

  7. Observation Decks: The Empire State Building has two observation decks. The main deck is on the 86th floor, an open-air terrace that provides 360-degree views of New York City. The top deck is on the 102nd floor, with an enclosed patio offering a different city perspective.

These dimensions underscore the grandeur of the Empire State Building and its architectural and engineering achievement. It's a testament to the skill and vision of the designers and builders who worked on it.

Comparison with other Tallest Buildings in the World

The Empire State Building, once the tallest structure on Earth, still holds a reputable position among the world's tallest buildings even after nearly a century since its completion. To give you some perspective, let's compare it to a few other sky-scraping landmarks across the globe.

Starting with the current record holder (as of my last update in 2021), the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, stands unrivaled. This architectural marvel reaches an astounding height of 2,722 feet (828 meters), almost twice as tall as the Empire State Building.

The second tallest building, the Shanghai Tower in China, soars up to 2,073 feet (632 meters). This spiral-shaped skyscraper, completed in 2015, significantly outstrips the Empire State Building in height, but it also stands as a testament to the advancements in architectural design and technology.

Another notable building is the Abraj Al-Bait Clock Tower in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Finished in 2012, this tower reaches a height of 1,972 feet (601 meters) and is currently the third tallest building in the world.

The One World Trade Center in New York City, also known as Freedom Tower, is another point of comparison. Standing at a symbolic height of 1,776 feet (541 meters), including its spire – a reference to the year of U.S. independence – it is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and exceeds the height of the Empire State Building.

Despite these towering structures surpassing its height, the Empire State Building's iconic status and historical significance still need to be improved. In the heart of New York City, it continues to be a favorite for locals and tourists alike, offering breathtaking views of the cityscape from its observation decks.

Height-Related Records of the Empire State Building

Tallest Building in the World for Decades

From its completion in 1931 until 1970, the Empire State Building held the title of the tallest building in the world. This Art Deco skyscraper dominated the New York City skyline for nearly four decades, symbolizing American progress and ambition.

The Empire State Building's total height, including its antenna, is 1,454 feet (443.2 meters). Even without the antenna, the roof height is a staggering 1,250 feet (381 meters). This made it the first building ever to contain more than 100 floors.

When erected amid the Great Depression, the Empire State Building substantially surpassed the Chrysler Building, its closest competitor. The Chrysler Building, also located in Manhattan, stands 1,046 feet (318.9 meters) tall, making the Empire State Building over 400 feet taller.

The Empire State Building's reign as the world's tallest ended in 1970 when the North Tower of the World Trade Center was completed, reaching a height of 1,368 feet (417 meters), or 1,727 feet (526 meters), including its antenna. However, following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the Empire State Building again became the tallest building in New York City until One World Trade Center reached its full height in 2014.

Despite being surpassed in height by numerous modern skyscrapers, the Empire State Building remains an iconic fixture of the New York City skyline, its history, and the story of towers worldwide. Its 40-year reign as the world's tallest building is a testament to its remarkable engineering and timeless design.

Records for Elevator Speed and Power

Another area where the Empire State Building stands out is in its vertical transportation system – its elevators. When the building was first constructed, it was equipped with 64 elevators, which was unprecedented. Today, the building has a total of 73 elevators, including both passenger and freight elevators. These elevators serve the building's 102 floors and can travel up to 1,200 feet per minute.

The Empire State Building's elevators were marvels of engineering for their time and remain impressive today. When the building was first completed, the elevators were some of the fastest in the world. While today's most advanced elevators can exceed these speeds, the Empire State Building's elevators are still recognized for their reliability, efficiency, and speed.

In fact, in 2001, the Empire State Building's elevators were wholly renovated to improve their speed and efficiency. This upgrade included installing a computerized dispatching system, which optimizes elevator travel by grouping passengers traveling to the same or nearby floors. This modernization has allowed the Empire State Building to meet the demands of its many occupants and millions of visitors each year.

The power behind these elevators is also noteworthy. High-speed gearless traction electric motors drove the Empire State Building's original elevators, and these motors moved the elevators and powered the electrical and mechanical systems within each elevator cab.

In summary, the Empire State Building's elevators, like the building itself, have been leaders in innovation and performance. From their initial groundbreaking speed to their modernized, efficient operation, they are integral to the building's iconic status.

Empire State Building Run-Up Event

A unique aspect of the Empire State Building that has risen in prominence since its inception in 1978 is the Empire State Building Run-Up. This event, which usually takes place in February, is an annual race up the stairs of the building, from the ground floor to the observation deck on the 86th floor. Talk about a stairway to heaven!

For those of you counting, that's a grueling 1,576 steps. The fastest runners complete the ascent in about 10 minutes, but most participants typically take between 20 and 25 minutes to reach the top. It's a test of endurance that attracts athletes worldwide, all eager to take on the challenge and conquer this famous skyscraper on foot.

The New York Road Runners organize the Run-Up, and participation is typically limited to about 200 runners. Runners are released in intervals to avoid congestion on the staircase, and the event includes categories for individual competitors and teams.

Notably, the Empire State Building Run-Up is considered one of the premier tower running events in the world. Tower running, as a sport, has gained international recognition, with races taking place in many of the world's tallest buildings. However, the Empire State Building Run-Up is often considered the most iconic of these races due to the building's historical significance and international fame.

In conclusion, the Empire State Building Run-Up is more than just a race; it's a unique event that combines athleticism, determination, and the iconic status of the Empire State Building. Whether you're a seasoned tower runner or just someone looking for a unique challenge, the Run-Up offers a memorable and rewarding experience.


From the tip of its antenna to its majestic lobby, the Empire State Building is a towering achievement that continues to captivate the world. Standing at 1,454 feet, it represents human ambition and architectural innovation. While it no longer holds the title of the world's tallest building, the Empire State Building's enduring legacy and the records it set along the way ensure it remains a vital part of global architectural history. So, the next time you look up at this iconic skyscraper, you'll appreciate its physical height and the lofty ambitions it represents.