SOARING over Manhattan, it is an iconic feature of not only the New York City skyline, but of dozens of classic movies. It seems, though, that the future of the Empire State Building is uncertain.


How so?

The pandemic has taken a toll on the 102-storey Art Deco skyscraper that turned 90 earlier this year, having been officially opened by President Herbert Hoover on May 1, 1931.


And now?

In a typical year, the building hosts more than four million visitors, but a new report in the New York Times points to the impact of coronavirus which “emptied out the attractions, shops and offices” on its floors, as well as in the rest of the Big Apple as tourism was decimated.


It’s not just the lack of tourists?

The reduced role of the workplace has also made its mark as most of the landmark’s floor space is dedicated to offices, belonging to firms big and small. They too have sat empty. The newspaper said 41 per cent of the companies they spoke to said they will “embrace a hybrid work model” when they return, with only 2% returning full time, meaning the once-teeming building will be far quieter.


It has shops too?

On the ground floor, yes, but tourism’s pandemic decline has seen footfall plunge.


It was a record-breaker in its day?

At the tip of its 200ft crowning lightning rod spire, the building stands 1,454 feet tall, holds over two million square feet of office space and covers two acres of land. When it was completed at a cost of $40 million, it was the first building in the world to have more than 100 floors.


And it’s a movie star?

Many of its silver screen appearances are vital to the plot, including that of 1957’s An Affair To Remember, starring Cary Grant and Scotland’s Deborah Kerr, as a couple who are engaged to others when they meet and agree to rendezvous at the top of the Empire State Building in six months’ time if they still feel the same way.


Sleepless in Seattle?

The 1993 Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan movie was partially inspired by An Affair To Remember and reaches its romantic finale with scenes in the Empire State Building's lobby and observatory. It also plays a starring role in the 2003 classic Christmas film, Elf, where Will Ferrell's 'elf' goes to the building to meet his father, James Caan.


It was designed to be a beacon of hope?

Built amid the Great Depression, it was said to have been regarded by its builder, businessman Jakob Raskob, as a symbol of hope and progress.


So what now?

Empire State fans online have been debating the best way to progress and, it seems, remain full of hope, with many suggesting that empty space could be turned into apartments. One admirer said the building’s ethos was always about “embracing the future”. Another wrote: “It will prevail.”