Elvita Adams made the decision to end her life on December 2, 1979.
The 29-year-old Bronx woman was reportedly living on $100 welfare checks after losing her job. Her landlord was threatening to evict her and her 10-year-old son because she couldn't pay the rent. So, depressed and unsure of what to do, she ended up on top of the Empire State Building.
Elvita Adams jumps from the Empire State Building And Those Before Her
The 102-story midtown Manhattan structure is well-known throughout the world. It was finished in 1931. Elvita Adams wasn't the first person to decide to jump from the Empire State Building, despite her height of 1,250 feet. The renowned skyscraper in New York City has been the site of over 30 successful suicide attempts. The first occurred in 1931, even before the building was finished, when a fired man leaped from the 58th story.
The tragic tale of Evelyn McHale, who landed atop a limousine while wearing gloves and pearls, earned her the moniker "the most beautiful suicide." The image of McHale's 1947 leap, taken by a photography student, went viral and was featured in Time magazine as well as artwork by Andy Warhol.
However, since Elvita Adam's suicide was the first and "most beautiful," it would go unnoticed. It would stick in people's memories because, in spite of the leap, nothing happened.
Adams had wandered over from the Bronx to Manhattan on that Sunday evening in early December just to see the lights.
She is cited as remarking afterwards, "I wanted to reach out and touch them because they were so pretty." Adams leaped over the fence surrounding the 86th floor observation platform of the building. But something amazing happened, so she would never find death.
Although wind isn't usually considered miraculous, Elvita Adam's body was blown back by an extraordinary gust of wind, landing her just one flight down. The wind speed on that particular day was reported to have been between 23 and 38 mph. Adams leaped to the 85th floor and landed on a ledge that was 2.5 feet below the surface.
Adams was reportedly moaning when security officer Frank Clark heard her and reached out of the floor window to pull her in. After that, she was brought to Bellvue Hospital in excruciating pain, possibly from a fractured hip or pelvis. Following her treatment, a hospital representative stated that she was in "satisfactory condition" and she was put under psychiatric observation.
After The Fall
Elvita Adams is quoted as saying, "I'm not sure if the wind pushed me back, or pushed me off," and "All I remember is the pain, I was in so much pain that I wasn't afraid," in the wake of the incident from the hospital.
As she had to climb over the fence, it was more than likely a suicide attempt, according to a police officer named Joseph Bay, who made this statement in an article that appeared in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, the local newspaper in New York, the next day.
What transpired to Evita Adams after her rescue is unknown. Many years later, in 2011, the one-woman play I've Been Elvita Adams was produced. The off-beat play speculates off the idea that, after her attempt to end her life, Adams went on to become a standup comic.
It was probably not the case. But perhaps with a helping hand from the serendipitous encounter and a fresh outlook, Elvita Adams managed to get the assistance she required.