We were excited to be included in this Secrets of New York City roundup by Time Out New York with some wonderful NYC bloggers like Moses Gates, Nick Carr of Scouting NY, Jeremiah of Vanishing New York, Ephemeral New York, and more. Larissa Hayden, cofounder of the Society for the Advancement of Social Studies shared her favorite fact:
The top of the Empire State Building has a 200-foot mooring mast that was meant to dock airships—then thought to be the vehicle of the future.
It ended up docking only one dirigible due to the fact that the idea was so ill-conceived, it didn’t account for how the winds coming off the building made it too dangerous to anchor an airship (let alone have people walk out on the 102nd floor). It was more of a stunt to ensure that the Empire State Building would be the world’s tallest building, but man, the idea of zeppelins hanging out in midtown is pretty great. I love this [secret] because it’s really easy to point to when you’re walking around or happen to have a good view, plus it’s pretty ridiculous to think about in the 21st century.
However, the New York Times reported in 2010 that the although the plan was real, the docking of an airship, including the famous photographs of the docking didn’t fully occur and that the famous photo below is a “composite, a fake.”
According to the Times:
Dr. Hugo Eckener, the commander of the Graf Zeppelin and the world’s expert on dirigibles, said flatly that the Empire State project was not practical…The tallest building in the world opened that May; the developers acknowledged that the apparatus for winching the airships had not yet been designed. In December the Navy airship J-4 flew from Lakehurst and hovered around the tower at the request of a newsreel company. The 30-mile-an-hour winds, described as “treacherous” by The Times, made the approach difficult.
Still, we love these vintage images enough to make this today’s #DailyWhat. Have a quirky find you want us to publish in the Daily What?!? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or submit to us on Twitter with the hashtag #DailyWhat. Get in touch with the author @untappedmich.