Empire was never the tallest or narrowest typeface, nor is the Empire State Building the tallest building anymore, but both are indeed slender and sleek. Naming a typeface is both the hardest and most enjoyable of jobs. In the 1930s, when type was sold to designers and type directors with all the fanfare of a car or film, a good name was essential.
The American Type Founders in Elizabeth, N.J., did their best to stay on top of style by naming faces according to popular new trends. Empire “with its smartness,” which began as a “headletter” in Vogue, was marketed to advertisers. “It will add eye-appeal to small newspaper space just as readily as it will lend atmosphere to a large ad or larger broadside.”