By: Tiya

New York’s tallest building is the Empire Sate Building, which stands on Fifth Avenue, New York, between 33rd Street and 34th Street. It was built on the site of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and took 410 days at a rate of 4 ½ floors a week to complete. The building was opened on 1 May 1931 by remote control, when President Herbert Hoover pressed a button in Washington DC.
The Empire State Building towers 381m above ground-and measures 443.2m to the top of the TV tower. A further 16.7m is below ground. The spire on top was designed as an airship mooring mast, but after a German airship, the Hindenburg, burned at its mooring mast in New Jersey in 1937, the mast was never used. For more than 40 years, the Empire State held the record as the world’s tallest office of apartment building, until the twin towers of the World Trade Center were completed. Since their destruction in 2001, it is once again New York’s tallest. More than 2.5 million tourists a year go up to the observatories on the 86th and 102nd floors. On a clear day you can see 129km from the 102nd floor.

• The workforce – 3,400 at its peak – took a total of seven million man – hours to complete the Empire State Building.
• The cost was $40,948,900 including the land (the building cost only $24,718,000).
• The building’s weight is 331,122 tonnes. This includes a 54,431-tonne steel frame, 10 million bricks faced in limestone and 662 tonnes of aluminium and stainless steel.
• The Empire State is served by 73 lifts and contains 3,194,547 light bulbs, 80km of radiator pipes and 113km of water pipes.
• The lightning conductor was struck 68 times in the building’s first ten years.
• In 2003 Australian runner Paul Crake broke his own record for racing up the 1575 steps to the 86th floor in 9 minutes 33 seconds.
• On 28 July 1945, a B-25 bomber cashed in fog between the building’s 78th and 79th floors, killing the pilot and 13 other people. It happened on a Saturday so most offices were empty, or the casualties would have been higher.
• The building’s coloured lights are changed for seasonal celebrations. They are red, white and blue on Independence Day and green on St Patrick’s Day. The lights are turned off when birds are migrating to avoid confusing them.
• On St Valentine’s Day, couples can marry on the 80th floor.

It’s a ghost town. But don’t panic in Detroit.
Twenty years ago Detroit was the sixth biggest city in America. Today it’s the umpteenth. Everybody left in the 1980s. So why would you go there? In transit; a lot more people pass through Detroit airport (35 million) than live in the city (1million). And Northwest Airlines’ new S1.2 billion ‘World Gateway’ hub means that thousands more will catch a connection here. Detroit is bizarrely proud of being “about a 90 minute flight from 60 percent of the US population”. Meanwhile, the canyons of Downtown are eerily silent. Stay at the 73-storey Marriott in the Renaissance Center (above) for a room with an unnerving view.

People Mover
The best way to savour the dystopic charms of Detroit is to go round in circles on the People Mover. The 2.9-mile monorail is served by two toy-like cars. A 50-cent token will take you full circle in 15 minutes flat. You can also get off at any of the 13 stations.
Don’t panic; if you need a cop just take a photograph at the next station. You will immediately be apprehended.

It was cars that made Detroit great-and then not so great. Henry Ford built his first car here in 1896 and the world’s first concrete road was built in Detroit in 1901. Today all roads lead out of Detroit to the suburbs where there is still some life. It was of course the automobile magnates who started the trend. Be sure to visit Henry Ford’s ‘Scottish Baronial’ home in Dearborn as well as the nearby Henry Ford Museum, an astounding 12 acre display of material culture from steam trains to automobiles (including JFK’s death-ride limo).

Stranded in downtown Detroit with no wheels? You might as well eat. For classic Americana try Rivertown Fuddruckers (E Jefferson Ave), a ‘50s style malt shop with the world’s greatest hamburgers. Roma Café (Riopelle St) the city’s oldest restaurant, serves Italian. Tribute (W 12 mile Road) was named one of America’s 50 best restaurants by Gourmet magazine.

THE DETROIT INSTITUTE OF ARTS is a reminder that this was once a real metropolis. 100 galleries hold an encyclopaedic collection that ranges from Persian miniatures to the French Impressionists. The atrium (below) is illuminated with Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry frescos.

Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson- they all got their start at Motown Records. And then they all shifted to Los Angeles (so did Motown Records) but the famous ‘Hitsville USA’ studio where they all recorded is now preserved as a wonderfully atmospheric museum. The Detroit music scene is a little whiter today. Local talent includes Eminem and Kid Rock. The annual Electronic Music Festival (usually held in May) is huge.

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