The Empire State Building's Mooring Mast

Did Dirigibles Ever Land on Top of the Empire State Building?

Top of the Empire State Building
Top of the Empire State Building. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

At a time when dirigibles were the transportation of the future, the architects of the Empire State Building planned for a mast to be built on top.

The Plan 

The plan was that a dirigible would anchor itself to the mooring mast and then let passengers disembark down a gangplank onto the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building. The dirigible would be anchored at this location for three to four hours, which would also allow it to be serviced.

Unfortunately, not much research was done as to whether or not a dirigible could anchor to the top of a building in the middle of a city. Usually, dirigibles were anchored by many ropes in the middle of an airfield, purposely away from the center of cities.

One Time a Dirigible Did Dock

Only once did a dirigible dock at the mast. In September 1931, a small, privately owned dirigible made contact with the top of the Empire State Building. Dropping a long rope, a ground crew of three were able to catch the rope and hold onto it.

Though it took the small dirigible over half an hour to accomplish this, it was only able to stay moored for three minutes.

Too Many Problems

It was determined that the air drafts from the height of the building, the danger of explosions over a city, as well as the infeasibility of tying up a dirigible by a single rope caused the mooring mast on top of the Empire State Building to be unusable.