Exchanging mountains for Manhattan

Assignment: write a 500-word feature story on the Empire State Building for your hometown newspaper. Pick your own angle.


Colorado Springs, Colo.


Colorado Springs resident Kelsey Travis exchanged the green, white and granite of Pike’s Peak for the gray marble of the Empire State Building when she enrolled at The King’s College in New York City.

Travis, a junior at the college, said the swap was a big contrast.

“[In] Colorado it’s bright green and [you have] the mountains and the snow, and you don’t get any of that here,” Travis said. “The Empire State Building [is] that one iconic building in the skyline, and in Colorado Springs that belongs to Pike’s Peak. The difference [between] concrete jungle and a fourteener is huge.”

With a height just a few inches shy of 1,454 feet, the Empire State Building is the tenth tallest building in the world, ranking behind Chicago’s Sears Tower (No. 5) and the Taipei Financial Center in Taiwan (No. 1).

Over 120 billion people have visited the observatories of the Empire State Building, and the observatories have 3.8 million visitors annually, according to the building’s Web site. Travis bypasses the tourists to get to her classes in the basement.

“We come screaming through because we have our passes and there are all these tourists trying to figure out what’s going on,” she said. “It’s kind of frustrating honestly sometimes.”

Travis found the building overwhelming at first, but she said she now knows her way around quite well.

“When I first walked in I remember being like ‘this is huge!’ It was unbelievable,” she said. “It was intimidating coming from Colorado Springs where downtown Colorado Springs is kind of a joke.”

Tourists planning to visit the Empire State Building this summer will see the lobby in a state of partial repair.

The lobby is currently undergoing a $400 million renovation, begun earlier this year, to restore it to a closer resemblance of its original condition, according to a 2007 article in the Architectural Record.

The building, which was completed in 1930, cost $41 million, according to the ESB Web site.

The renovation will replace several interior features, including a ceiling added during the 1960s, and will remove posters of the seven wonders of the ancient world, also installed during the 60s. Over 6,000 exterior windows will also be replaced.

The office manager of the Empire State Building could not be reached for comment on the renovation.

The King’s College is a private Christian college which has been operating out of the Empire State Building since 1999, according to the college’s Web site.


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