From the outset, the Empire State Building seemed to have had everything going against it. Although conceived during the 1920s boom years, most of the construction went on during the earliest years of the Depression, thereby putting the idea of high occupancy in the severest doubt. Its location wasn't ideal either. It was three miles north of the Wall Street district and a mile south of the center of the midtown business center. And it was ten blocks south of Grand Central Station and three avenues east of old Pennsylvania Station. The idea of mooring dirigibles was quickly scrapped after failed attempts. And sure enough, although the Empire State Building did get built, the tenants did not come. King Kong did, but he didn't pay rent.
John Tauranac describes all this and more in his exhaustive book, THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING: THE MAKING OF A LANDMARK. Written in an engaging style, Tauranac's book is as elegant and interesting as the subject itself, while his wit is as colorful as the characters surrounding the Empire State Building's creation. The book covers the idea for the building, Raskob's and Smith's supervision, the monumental task of the construction workers, and, most importantly, the survival of the building to become THE emblem of America's cultural and economic reach while become THE identifying symbol of New York City. The generous amount of photographs add to the understanding and enjoyment of the book. Highly recommended.