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Context of 'July 28, 1945: Empire State Building Is Struck by a US Army B-25 Bomber'

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Crash by a US Army B-25 bomber on July 28, 1945.Crash by a US Army B-25 bomber on July 28, 1945. [Source: NPR]A B-25 bomber crashes into the Empire State Building in New York City, causing 14 deaths. Lieutenant Colonel William Franklin Smith Jr. is piloting the B-25 Mitchell bomber on a routine personnel transport mission from Boston to LaGuardia Airport. He asks for clearance to land, but is advised of zero visibility. Proceeding anyway, he is disoriented by fog and starts turning right instead of left after passing the Chrysler Building. At 9:40 a.m., the plane crashes into the north side of the Empire State Building, between the 78th and 80th floors, carving an 18-foot hole in the building where the offices of the National Catholic Welfare Council are located. One engine shoots through the side opposite the impact. It flies as far as the next block where it lands on the roof of a nearby building and starts a fire that destroys a penthouse. The other engine and part of the landing gear plummet down an elevator shaft. The resulting fire is extinguished in 40 minutes. It is the only fire at such a height that is ever successfully controlled. Fourteen people are killed in the incident and one person is injured. Despite the damage and loss of life, the building opens for business on many floors the following Monday. The crash helps spur the passage of the long-pending Federal Tort Claims Act of 1946, allowing people to sue the government for the accident. (Richman 7/28/2008)

A 1968 advert with an artist’s rendition of a plane hitting the WTC.A 1968 advert with an artist’s rendition of a plane hitting the WTC. [Source: Committee for a Reasonable World Trade Center]A civic group opposed to the building of the World Trade Center publishes a nearly full-page advertisement in the New York Times, warning that the new buildings will be so tall that a commercial airliner might crash into them. The group, called the Committee for a Reasonable World Trade Center, is mainly composed of New York real estate developers who are worried that the huge construction project will glut the market. Its leader is Lawrence A. Wien, a real estate mogul who is an owner of the Empire State Building in New York. (Glanz and Lipton 9/8/2002; New York Times Magazine 9/8/2002) In July 1945, a B-25 Army bomber struck the Empire State Building, killing 14 people. (Witkin 2/26/1981) The committee’s advertisement shows an artist’s rendition of a large jet plane about to strike one of the proposed towers. (Glanz and Lipton 9/8/2002; New York Times Magazine 9/8/2002)


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