2. Empire State Building Mooring Mast

Empire State Building mooring mast
Empire State Building Mooring Mast. Photo by Julie Foster.

Atop the Empire State Building lies its distinctive Art Deco-inspired spire with sculptural cast-aluminum wings that have come to define the New York City skyline. Created to be a dirigible docking station, the mooring mast was added to the building’s design by architects Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon as a last-minute addition. During the 1920s in the heyday of airship travel, German zeppelins were incredibly popular. Playing off this popularity, the Empire State Building’s original flat roof design was changed to a 200-foot mooring mast marketed as the perfect landing spot for visitors to New York City. In the end, plans to dock airships were abandoned but the building still received the mast.

Since the completion of the Empire State Building in 1931, four buttresses have been added to the mast’s base as well as a needle-like antenna on the top. In 2019, Empire State Realty Trust and architects Consulting Associates of New York began removing obsolete infrastructure located between the 88th and 103rd floors of the building and restored the mooring mast’s appearance.