The accident happened at around 10 a.m. in a 26-story office tower near Grand Central Terminal that has been the longtime home of advertising agency Y&R, formerly known as Young & Rubicam.
Officials said the woman was stepping onto the elevator on the first floor when either her foot or leg became caught in the closing doors. The car then rose abruptly, dragging her body into the shaft and killing her, officials said.
The elevator then became stuck between the first and second floors. Two people who were on the elevator were taken to a hospital to be evaluated for psychological trauma but weren't physically injured, Fire Department officials said.
Investigators with the fire department, the police department and the city's buildings department were on the scene in midtown Manhattan. The name of the victim was not immediately released. Fire and police officials said she was 41.
A spokeswoman for Y& R, which announced just days ago that it planned to vacate the building for a new headquarters, confirmed that there had been a fatality but said she couldn't yet provide additional information.
The company is among a number of tenants in the building.
Officials initially said they thought the elevator had fallen two floors.