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A dark painting of an older white man in a black cloak. The man has light skin with rosy cheeks and white, curled hair.
One theory credits George Washington with coining the term "Empire State".[1]

The U.S. state of New York has been known by many nicknames, most notably as the Empire State, adopted as late as the 19th century. This nickname has been incorporated into the names of several state buildings and events, and is commonly believed to refer to the state's wealth and resources. However, the origin of the term remains unclear.

There are several theories on the origin of the name. Two of them involve George Washington, one credits aggressive trade routes, and another associates the nickname with New York exceeding Virginia in population. None has been proven. One commonly accepted tale says that, when Washington was given a full map of New York prior to the Battle of New York, he remarked on New York's natural geographic advantages, proclaiming New York the "Seat of an Empire".

The origin of the term has puzzled many historians; as American writer Paul Eldridge put it, "Who was the merry wag who crowned the State ... [as the Empire State]? New York would certainly raise a monument to his memory, but he made his grandiose gesture and vanished forever."[1]

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  • What If The Empire State Building Was Attacked?


The Empire State Building is arguably the most iconic building in Manhattan. Standing tall since the 1930s, the building is an architectural and cultural marvel…. But what if it was at the centre of a plot? What if the building was harmed, or worse, was obliterated. Hello and welcome back to Life’s Biggest Questions, I am Rebecca Felgate and today we’re continuing our simulated scenario serious as we ask… What if the Empire State Building was Attacked? Before we launch right into this video I just want to ask you guys to hit that thumbs up button if you like our videos and to make sure you are subscribed for more big answers. The Empire State Building has become synonymous with the image of New York. It is one of the busiest tourist’s attractions in the world as well as being home to a number of businesses, including Linked Inn, which occupies 5 of the 102 floors. Approximately 15 thousand people work in the Empire State Building and a further 10 thousand visit each day to enjoy the observation deck and other leisure offerings. Of course, not all 25 thousand people who frequent the building each day would all be there at one time, but it is likely that many thousands of people would be inside if an attack took place. Of course, like with the horrifying events of 9/11, conducting an attack on a working weekday would be likely to cause the most devastation. speaking of 9/11, of course if the Empire State Building was attacked it would have some worrying parallels to that fateful day in 2001. Depending on the extent of the damage, it could be the worst attack the city, if not America, has seen since. Of course, we have to wonder how exactly someone could conduct an attack of any magnitude on the Empire State Building, which is now one of the most heavily guarded and security tight buildings in America. While an aerial attack would be the most affective in inflicting damage, Since 9/11, aviation law and security measures have been tightened, making a similar offence highly unlikely. Of course an aerial bomb attack is just about as unlikely as they come too, considering air space in Manhattan is tightly monitored, unless of course the fire comes from kind of unintercepted North Korean Missile. Of course, while these events are unlikely, they are not beyond the realms of possibility. For example, in 1945, an American bomber plane accidentally flew into the building, causing significant damage and killing 14 people. Other ways in which the building has been attacked include two mass shootings, one in 1997 and one in 2012. As security forces in the building are armed, this kind of attack would likely be contained reasonably quickly. The other possibility for a high damage attack could be an intelligent bomb plot. This would take very careful planning and a huge amount of luck on the attackers end, again because the building is so highly monitored. If an attack did unfold, depending on its nature, the building and the surrounding areas could be on lockdown, affecting a large part of central Manhattan. Nearby Penn Station and Madison Square Gardens would likely be affected too. Should the building be damaged beyond repair in an attack, it is possible the Zip Code 10118 would be retired, the exclusive postal code for the building. It would also have a big effect on the cities radio and TV broadcasts as, after 9/11 nearly all of the city's commercial television and FM radio broadcast stations started transmitting again from the top of the Empire State Building. Then, we get to the Pres. Donald Trump is the most vocal president of all time and should an attack like this take place during his presidency, he would bring the world down upon whomever was responsible. The War on Terror took place as a result of 9/11, and I can only imagine the 45th President would be keen to avenge any deaths that took place in a building which he once part owned. If the Empire State Building did fall or a number of people were killed, it would be a sad day for us all and depending on the nature of the attack, it could have far reaching political consequences. So, that is one question that will hopefully never find a real life answer. What do you think would happen if the Empire State Building was attacked? Let me know in the comments section below. For now, I am your host Rebecca Felgate, I’ll catch you in the next video, but until then, be sure to stay curious, stay alert and never ever stop questioning! If you want to continue on your questioning binge, why not watch our biggest What If’s Playlist and our Biggest History Questions.



The source of the term "Empire State" is uncertain. It has been attributed to the state's wealth and resources,[2] but there is some doubt regarding that. Two possible stories involve America's first president George Washington.

The first refers to an April 10, 1785 letter to New York City Mayor James Duane in which Washington called New York "the Seat of the Empire". Washington is also said to have used the phrase "Pathway to Empire" once when referring to the state in conversation with Governor George Clinton in the 1790s; no documentation exists for this exchange, however.[1]

Alexander Flick's History of New York State claims that the title was used as early as 1819, coinciding with New York surpassing Virginia in population. He does not provide any source for this claim. Further, Flick adds that the term was "universally acknowledged and accepted" by the time that the Erie Canal was completed in 1825.[1] In a later work, Flick and coauthor John Jacob Anderson claim that "New York is well called the Empire State ... not only because of the vastness of its resources, but because it so conspicuously illustrates the imperial power of law-abiding liberty among the people."[3]

Milton M. Klein proposes in The Empire State: A History of New York that the name may have accompanied the success of the Black Ball Line in 1818 "because of the signal advantage the regularity of shipping gave to New York's merchants over those in other coastal cities." He claims that, by 1820, it was clear that "Empire State" was in wide use, though he is doubtful that a clear origin of the term will ever be determined. The 1940 Guide to the Empire State included the following quotation: " would gratify the people of New York if they could discover who first dared that spacious adjective."[1]


The Empire State Building (1931) is the best-known application of the nickname.
The Empire State Plaza (constructed 1959–1976) houses much of New York State government.

New York is widely known by the nickname "Empire State", and its effects can be seen throughout the state.[1] Manhattan's Empire State Building opened in 1931 and was the world's tallest building until the completion of the north tower of the World Trade Center in 1970. Following the September 11 attacks, the Empire State Building once again became the tallest building in Manhattan until One World Trade Center claimed the title in April 2012.[4][5] 1939 New York World's Fair dubbed the span between the Trylon and N.Y. State Exhibit as The Empire State Bridge. The main offices of state government are located at the Empire State Plaza (ESP) in Albany, the state capital. Its most iconic structure is the Erastus Corning Tower, the tallest building in New York outside of New York City.[6]

The nickname has also been used for train routes. The Empire State Express of the New York Central Railroad was established in 1891, and Amtrak currently offers its Empire Service from New York City to Buffalo via Albany.[1] SUNY Empire State College was established in 1971 in Saratoga Springs and makes use of the name.[7] The Empire State Games were established in 1978 as an Olympic-style competition for amateur athletes from New York.[8] Additionally, the term "Empire State" was included on New York State license plates from 1951 through 1963[9] and since 2001.[10] In 2009, Jay-Z and Alicia Keys released the 5x-platinum single "Empire State of Mind."

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g New York State Historical Association (2001). Milton M. Klein, ed. The Empire State: A History of New York. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. pp. xix–xx. ISBN 0-8014-3866-7.
  2. ^ Shearer, Benjamin; Barbara S. Shearer (2002). State Names, Seals, Flags, and Symbols: A Historical Guide (3rd ed.). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. p. 9. ISBN 0-313-31534-5.
  3. ^ Anderson, John Jacob; Alexander Clarence Flick (1902). A Short History of the State of New York. New York, NY: Maynard, Merrill, & Co. p. 321. OCLC 6812818.
  4. ^ Berman, John S. (2003). The Empire State Building. New York, NY: Barnes and Noble Publishing, Inc. p. 9. ISBN 0-7607-3889-0.
  5. ^ Dunlap, David (2012-04-29). "With a Steel Column, a Tower Will Reclaim the Manhattan Sky". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2012-05-09.
  6. ^ Waite, Diana S. (1993). Albany Architecture: A Guide to the City. Albany, NY: Mount Ida Press. pp. 81–82. ISBN 0-9625368-1-4.
  7. ^ "About Us". Empire State College. Retrieved 2010-09-20.
  8. ^ "About the Games". Empire State Games. Archived from the original on 2010-09-12. Retrieved 2010-09-20.; Note that as of 2011, the games have been halted due to budget constraints.
  9. ^ "Vehicle registration plates of New York". Wikipedia. 2018-05-27.
  10. ^ Swearingen, Jacquelyn (2001-01-02). "Lady Liberty's License Plate Number Is Up". Times Union. Albany, NY: Hearst Newspapers. p. A1. Retrieved 2011-04-18.
This page was last edited on 2 December 2018, at 02:30
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