Irven "Jack" Brod
TITLE: Founder and president, Empire Diamond Corp.
FLOOR:76th floor since 2001. His company started on the 7th,
moved up to 14, then 15, then 66.
CLAIM TO FAME: Longest tenant in the Empire State Building;
in on July 1, 1931, two months after the building opened.
QUOTE:"They called it the 'Empty State Building' back
then. It was the height of the Depression. No one could afford to
rent space here."
71 years Jack Brod has moved up in the world from the
7th floor to the 76th floor.
Irven "Jack" Brod thinks he may have
met the queen of England once but he's not quite sure. Over the
years so many dignitaries have been ushered up to his office in
the Empire State Building to shake his hand that it's hard to remember
"I know I met Her Highness Princess Grace she used to
be Grace Kelly," he says from his office on the 76th floor.
"And then there was Fay Wray, who played the girl in the original
King Kong movie. She was very nice."
Brod, 92, is the founder of the Empire Diamond Corporation, one
of the largest diamond merchants in New York City. But he's best
known as the longest living tenant in what is once again the city's
tallest building. "He's a landmark in a landmark," says
Lydia A. Ruth, the building's director of public relations.
Brod moved into the building on July 1, 1931, two months after
its official opening. His first office, a tiny 400-square-foot box,
was on the seventh floor. Boards covered the floor of the lobby
and workmen were still finishing the interior above the 18th floor.
Though the building went up in 14 months, it took another two years
to complete the inside.
"There was no rush," says Brod. "There were no tenants.
They called it the 'Empty State Building' back then. It was the
height of the Depression. No one could afford to rent space here.
The building didn't fill up until World War II."
While other Depression-era businessmen were daunted by the high
rents, Brod knew that the Empire State Building provided more than
a stupendous view on a clear day. It was an unforgettable address.
Brod says he still works six days a week because he loves selling
diamonds. "When a young couple comes in to buy a diamond and
I see that young lady's eyes shine, it makes my day," he says.
"People ask me when am I going to retire. I tell them, not
till they plant me."
Last year, Brod vacated his offices on the 66th floor and moved
up to larger quarters on the 76th floor. "I signed a 10-year
lease," he says. "Chances are I'm going to work another
five or 10 years."
-- Rachele Kanigel