Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
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You'd think the best source for this information would be the , but even they seem to be a little unclear on the exact measurement:
"The Empire State Building does not sway... it gives. With a wind of 110 miles per hour, the Building gives 1.48 inches. Movement off center is never greater than one quarter inch, thus measurable movement is only one half inch, one quarter inch on either side. "
This doesn't make a lot of sense to me, since it says that it gives 1.48 inches, but never more than one quarter inch to either side. In any case, I think it's safe to say that it's not any more than an inch and a half, for all that there are plenty of people out there saying that can get to as much as a few feet! To find out why it may look like a lot more than just a couple inches, check out this explanation by the How Stuff Works folks.
Aha- After rereading this many times, a possible coherent meaning of that web site blurb occurred to me. Maybe they mean: under a very strong wind, the building leans 1.5" to one side, but the short-term swaying motion around that new position is only a quarter inch either way.
It’s not clear, but it’s hard now to see what else they could have meant.
(published on 10/22/2007)