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Monday, January 28, 2008

Empire State Building car zap mystery


From Richard Weir in New York Daily News:
In the shadow of the Empire State Building lies an “automotive Bermuda Triangle” - a five-block radius where vehicles mysteriously die. No one is sure what’s causing it, but all roads appear to lead to the looming giant in our midst - specifically, its Art Deco mast and 203-foot-long, antenna-laden spire. “We get about 10 to 15 cars stuck near there every day,” said Isaac Leviev, manager of Citywide Towing, the AAA’s exclusive roadside assistance provider from 42nd St. to the Battery. “You pull the car four or five blocks to the west or east and the car starts right up.”

Motorists like Russell Valeev, 25, learn about it the hard way. “The lights work, the horn works, everything. But it won’t start,” Valeev, a driver for Golden Touch Transportation said one recent evening as he sat in his 2005 Ford van with the hood propped open on E. 35th St., between Lexington and Park Aves. “It’s my job. No money.” The 102-story building, at Fifth Ave. between 33rd and 34th Sts., has been home to broadcast equipment since its opening in 1931, when RCA installed an experimental TV antenna.

Since the 9/11 attacks destroyed the twin towers, the building has regained its status as the leading transmission site for commercial broadcast outfits, with 13 TV and 19 FM stations mounting antennas on its spire. The Empire State Building Co., which refused to provide the Daily News a list of its antennas, denied it has created any “adverse impact” on automobiles. “If the claim were indeed true, the streets in the vicinity of the building would be constantly littered with disabled vehicles,” the building’s owner said.

According to many doormen in the area, they often are. “They park here on the block and when they come back and try to leave, they can’t start their cars,” said Martin Deda, a doorman at 16 Park Ave., which fronts E. 35th St. “I’ve seen a lot of cars get towed away,” said a doorman at 35 E. 35th St. who gave only his first name, Joseph. “I see it all the time, at least 10 times a week ... I call it the ‘Empire State Building Effect.’

Read more here.

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