The Empire State Story

First transmitted in 2001, this programme chronicles the construction of the Empire State Building in New York, which was the world's tallest skyscraper when opened in 1931. The programme investigates the building's history through interviews with the people who contributed to the construction of this iconic building.

Release date:

Available now

49 minutes

Last on

Sat 23 Mar 2002 18:30
BBC Two except East, South East, Yorkshire

All American Collection

All American Collection
This programme is part of BBC Four’s All American - a collection of BBC programmes from the archives about US culture. Available online to watch in full.

Go to BBC Four All American Collection

More about this programme

Packed with personal anecdotes and great storytelling, this programme creates a compelling blend of archive and oral history. The Empire State Building took one year and 45 days to build and was completed not only on time, but also under budget. The anticipated cost had been 43 million dollars, but the actual cost was just a little over half that. Could this happen today? Certainly not, according to the contributors whose testimony brings this story about New York's number one tourist attraction vividly to life. 

The programme also covers the tragic events of July 1945 when a United States B25 bomber smashed into the 79th floor of the building. That story is told largely through the testimony of a survivor, the pilot's widow, and a reporter who was sent to the scene.

About BBC Four Collection programmes

Programmes are selected, in part, for their historical context and reflect the broadcast standards and attitudes of their time, which may not accord to some current BBC editorial guidelines. We aim to select programmes which can be shown in their entirety but in some cases edits are required.


Role Contributor
NarratorSamuel West
WriterJonathan Gili
ProducerJonathan Gili
DirectorJonathan Gili
Series EditorLaurence Rees

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