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Empire State Building Suicides: The Tower Of Tragedy And Majestic Beauty

Empire State Building Suicides
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The Empire State Building, positioned in Midtown, Manhattan of New York City attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world due to its Art Deco-inspired architecture and delicate work of art. But, apart from that, the architectural monument is renowned for its haunting suicide history for decades. This article will walk you through the observational decks of the 49th tallest building in the world and will uncover interesting facts about Empire State Building suicides. 

So without further ado, let’s dive deep into the seven Wonders of the modern world! 

The Architectural Masterpiece Of New York – The Empire State Building

Before jumping into the Empire State Building suicide history, let us try to understand the Art Deco-inspired structure of the National Historic Landmark. 

The Americans joined the architectural race soon after the establishment of the Eiffel Tower was built in Paris. The Americas were ready to construct a more tall building that will eventually outshine the glory of French architecture. 

The initial plans to surpass the charm of the Eiffel Tower came from Empire State Inc. which purchased the land of the Waldorf Astoria site and announced publicly that the building would be 80 stories – the tallest building in history. Wings of success were attached to their dream when William F. Lamb of the architectural company, Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon agreed to create the architectural design of the building, which later was enlisted among the seven wonders of the modern world. 

But, problems arose when New York joined in the “Race into the sky”! The 40 Wall Street building and the Chrysler Building both recorded themselves as the most powerful competitor of the Empire State Building. While Chrysler was overly confident that his masterpiece would outshine that of Raskob’s The Empire State Building, Raskob devised plans to destroy Chrysler’s dreams. With improvements and innovations, the roof height of the Empire State Building was now increased to 1250 feet, making it the tallest skyscraper in the world. The construction started in the year 1929 and was completed by 1931, which took approximately 410 days to establish the whole building, much ahead of the estimated date. While the building was referred to as an example of a “word portrait”, the establishment of the twin towers of the World Trade Center snatched the title of the World’s tallest building from the Empire State building and recorded it in its name. But the collapse of the World Trade Center in 2001 again added a feather to the crown of the Empire State Building and it was known as the city’s tallest skyscraper until 2012! 

History Of Suicide – Empire State Building 

The Empire State Building, with its Art Deco-inspired architecture, the observatories, and great heights have made it a popular attraction for tourists and adventure freaks from all over the world. Built with Indiana limestone, the 102-storeyed building is more famous for suicide attempts and other events of accidents and death. The blonde walls of the geometric masterpiece have witnessed more deaths than visitors over 90 years. But, why do people choose to commit suicide from the Empire State Building? What is the reason behind it? Do they want to shift people’s attention toward their life? This section will tell you the secrets behind the Empire State Building suicides. 

But, it is worth noting that suicide was not the only potential danger to this great monumental masterpiece. The Midtown in Manhattan has witnessed several accidents of the workers who were employed in the construction work of the building as well. According to reports, five of the workers slipped accidentally and breathed their last during the construction work was going on. Though rumors say that the death rate exceeded a hundred, there is no solid evidence to prove the claims. 

But, the accidents did not gain much attention as compared to the innumerable suicides that were operated from the building. The building has been holding the grievances of many people for decades. It has witnessed more deaths than its share of violence and accidents. 

History Of Suicide Empire State Building – The Most Beautiful Suicide 

Amidst innumerable Empire State Building suicides, the notable and most famous is the Suicide committed by the beautiful and charming Evelyn McHale in the year 1947. Born to seven siblings and divorced parents, in the year of 1923, Evelyn established herself as a bookkeeper in Baldwin of New York. 

As the legend says, on 30th April 1947, Evelyn set off from her place to meet her fiancé Barry Rhodes for his birthday bash. After spending quality time with her love, she again bid home goodbye and was ready for her home. Fast forward to 10:40 am on the same day in Fifth Avenue of Midtown, Patrolman John heard a loud crash near the Empire State Building. To his and others’ surprise, Evelyn took her own life by jumping off the 86th-floor observation deck. While she landed with a loud crashing noise on the United Nations Assembly Cadillac Limousine, her body did not undergo any destruction and looked calm and serene. At the time of suicide, she was wearing pearls and white gloves, which made her look more ethereal and divine! Though her external features were without any scar, her body internally was destroyed and her organs couldn’t be recognized. She was later recognized by her sister Helen and was cremated. 

Upon investigation, police found her coat, a brown makeup kit, and a letter that read, “I don’t want anyone in or out of my family to see any part of me. Could you destroy my body by cremation? I beg of you and my family – don’t have any service for me or remembrance for me. My fiancé asked me to marry him in June. I don’t think I would make a good wife for anybody. He is much better off without me. Tell my father, I have too many of my mother’s tendencies”.

Though the statement of his fiancé didn’t match with her handwritten note. According to Barry, she was very happy and cheerful, and there was no sign of depression or stress! 

Hearing the loud crashing sounds, the public assembled at the suicide area amongst whom, Robert Wiles, a photography student was also present who snapped the body. The picture snapped by Robert soon snatched the limelight and was seen on one of the pop art prints of Andy Warhol. American punk band, Saccharine Trust also used her image in one of their albums, “Surviving You Always”. 

Throughput three weeks, six people including Evelyn committed suicide attempts by jumping off of the 86th-floor terrace. In response to such Empire State Building suicides, a 7-foot wire mesh fence was positioned along with the 86th-floor observatory. 

How Many Suicides Empire State Building Witnessed? 

Apart from the “most beautiful suicide”, more than 30 incidences of suicide attempts have been recorded in the past decades. The first attempt was recorded in the year 1932, when a carpenter, who was fired from his job, jumped off the 58th floor, even before the construction was complete. Two other suicides were recorded in the years 1935 and 1943 when Irma P. Eberhardt and William Lloyd Rambo attempted to end their lives. Again in the year 1946, Marine Douglas ended his life by leaping from the 76th-floor window! 

While guards were appointed to keep a check on the increasing suicide attempts, Frederick Eckhart of Astoria successfully avoided glancing at the guards and jumped from the 102nd floor and died later. The year 2013 also witnessed a person falling from the Empire State Building, but he was not injured much. 

Empire State Building Suicides – The Lucky Suicide 

In the year of 1979, Elvita Adams lost her job and was depressed. When found no way to survive the job loss, she decided to end her life by following the path of others. She went to the 86th-floor observatory fence and jumped off! But, destiny had something more exciting in store for her. The gushing winds pushed her body back and luckily she landed on the 85th Floor, with a broken pelvis bone. In the year 2011, a woman play was organized named, “I’ve been Elvita Adams”.


In addition to more than 30 Empire State Building suicides, several other accidents and shootings were witnessed by the tallest skyscraper in New York City. In the year 1997, a Palestinian teacher, Ali Hassan Abu Kamal shot the people of the observatory, which killed one man and others were injured. Later, he killed himself as well. Again in the year of 2012, Jeffrey Johnson, after being fired from his job, killed his cousin worker amidst a conflict. In response to the shooting, police later killed him and in the process, others were injured as well. Another blood-curdling incident occurred in the year of 1945 when a B-25 bomber was trapped in a dense fog which resulted in the loss of visibility of the pilot, which crashed on the 79th Floor of the Empire State Building, which led to a fire burst in which 13 approximately were killed! 

Despite its haunting history, the Empire State Building will continue to rule the world of architecture with its charm and elegance! 

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