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It’s May Day, May Day, May Day! - May 1, 2015

A worker bolts beams during construction of the Empire State Building in 1929; the Chrysler Building can be seen in the background. (Photo via Wikimedia)

Q: It was on this May Day - May 1, 1931 - that the Empire State Building was officially dedicated in New York City! The skyscraper was built by a company of brothers whose president was born and raised in Lawrence. What’s the name of this company - with Kansas ties - that served as general contractors for the Empire State Building?


A: Starrett Brothers

The Starrett Brothers served as general contractors for the Empire State Building, which was officially dedicated on May 1, 1931. Paul Starrett, the most famous of the brothers, was born in Lawrence. He also headed the family business. Working with his brother William, they completed the skyscraper in just 11 months. The pace of construction was so dizzying and stressful that after the work was done, Paul suffered a severe nervous breakdown. :-(
Paul and William were two of five Starrett brothers, all of whom worked in the industry, either in association or as competitors - four were builders, one was an architect. Their father was a minister in Lawrence during the town’s early days. The Starrett Brothers were also responsible for construction of New York City’s Flatiron Building, Penn Station and the Plaza and Biltmore hotels. The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., was another one of the company’s many projects. 

Fun Factoid: The Empire State Building is taller than the Eiffel Tower.

Another Fun Factoid: The original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel had to be demolished in order to make room for the Empire State Building.

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