Archivist update: Empire State Building turns 85

On May 1, 2016, the Empire State Building marks 85 years since it officially opened on May 1, 1931, with the press of a button by President Herbert Hoover in Washington, D.C to turn on the lights. At the time that the building opened, it was the tallest skyscraper in the world. In its 85-year history, the Empire State Building has weathered economic hardship, world war, labor strikes, murder, terrorist fears and even its own plane crash.

Below is a selection of photos from our archive of the Empire State Building through the years.

See these photos on


Follow AP photographers on Twitter:


Spotlight is the blog of AP Images, the world’s largest collection of historical and contemporary photos. AP Images provides instant access to AP’s iconic photos and adds new content every minute of every day from every corner of the world, making it an essential source of photos and graphics for professional image buyers and commercial customers. Whether your needs are for editorial, commercial, or personal use, AP Images has the content and the expert sales team to fulfill your image requirements. Visit to learn more.


Written content on this site is not created by the editorial department of AP, unless otherwise noted.



AP Images on Twitter | AP Images on Facebook | AP Images on Instagram