This map plots the settings and references in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

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Empire State Building, New York
Looking up at the Empire State Building
GNU Free Documentation LicenseLooking up at the Empire State Building - Credit: BigMac

The Empire State Building features prominently in the novel, as a symbol of success and prosperity, and an icon of the City of New York.  The Empire Novelty Company, employer of Kavalier and Clay, starts life “in a hard-luck stretch of Twenty-fifth street.”  As it evolves into the immensely profitable Empire Comics, it relocates to “coldly splendid” offices in the Empire State Building. 

The building, an Art Deco skyscraper, stands at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street.  Its construction began in early 1930, on the site of the old Waldorf Astoria hotel. It was formally opened on 1 May 1931.  It was the tallest building in the world for several decades (it was surpassed in 1970 by the World Trade Centre).  It has 102 stories and rises to a height of over one thousand feet.  High speed elevators travel from top to bottom in 60 seconds.  The building has 6,500 windows, and two observatories, on the 102nd and 108th floors.  The upper portion of the building - the Art Deco spire - was originally intended, but never used, as a mooring place for dirigibles (Zeppelin-type airships). The idea proved impractical and dangerous due to the powerful updrafts caused by the size of the building, and the lack of mooring lines tying the other end of the craft to the ground.

 

Empire State Building
Creative Commons AttributionEmpire State Building - Credit: Supermac1961, Flickr