Completed in 1931 and named after New York State's nickname, the Empire State Building is one of the symbols of New York City. It was the world's highest building for forty years and until the construction of New York's World Trade Centre. Since 2001, the Empire State Building has returned to being New York's highest structure. The 381-metre building occupies a prominent position in central Manhattan and is a magnificent example of Art Déco architecture. The observation deck at the top offers the best views over New York - definitely a must when visiting the city.
The Empire State is one of the signal sights of NYC. It is once again the tallest building in the Eastern USA after the 9/11 disaster. Its design, with its impressive art deco lobby, made with marble from Georgia, some expensive wood from somewhere, is at once stunning and a sign of the times in which it was built.
The views from the observation galleries is as you would expect. I heard it said that the view from the Rockefeller center is better, as the Empire State is a beautiful sight from it.
There are queues so be patient. It is $20 well spent, as you cannot really say you went to NYC unless you went up it.
The Empire State Building was awesome. You have to go EARLY and yes, you do have to wait in a line. If the line is out the door--dont bother, come back later. If you can get your tickets online, definetly do it. IF YOU'VE BEEN TO EPCOT & DID "SOARING"--DONT BOTHER WITH THE SKY RIDE. ITS SO BAD!!!!! It jerks you around, its not smooth and enjoyable--too many quick flashing, odd angle and distorted pics of the city sights. And especially for the extra money...its not worth it.
One more thing....dont buy the $30 overpriced picture they take of you. They give you a picture card and the prices are a bit more reasonable when you order online.
I wasn't going to do this one as I hate standing in lines and, well, it's one of those really cliche tourist things. Still, as my Other Half pointed out, it IS the ESB and something I'd probably only do once in my life so off we went. About 45 minutes into a long, hot wait I was giving him the evil eye but once we (finally) stepped on onto the observation deck...
... the pictures say it all.
The website has everything you want to know about the history and visiting info of this historic, Art Deco spire so I'll stick to the generals:
Entrance to the building is on 5th Avenue, between 33rd and 34th Streets. There is a separate handicapped entrance (see website).
You will wait through a succession of 3 lines before you reach the 86th floor observatory: security, ticketing and elevators. The longest part of the wait will be inside the building and it was oppressively warm when we were there so you'll probably be shedding your coats (no coat check). Bring something to keep the kids occupied! Cameras and camcorders are, of course, fine but no tripods. Also no suitcases or bottles allowed.
There are several ways to cut the waiting time:
Order tickets in advance from the website - which eliminates the ticket line.
Order Express passes, which eliminates the ticket line and places you at the front of the other two. This comes with a price (around $45) but if you have $$ and don't have time, this is the way to go.
During your wait, they do their level best to sell you add-ons like tickets to a simulated helicopter show (Skyride) or 102nd floor observatory, audio guides and souvenirs.
General admission is, at the time of this writing, about $20 for adults and less for children and seniors (see website). US military, in uniform, and little ones under age 6 are free.
The ESB is open 365 days a year, 8:00AM to 2:00AM. Last elevators go up at 1:15AM.
A note about the illumination: it's normally white but changes per seasonal holidays (like Christmas) and other national/world events. They also occasionally turn it off on foggy/cloudy nights during peak migration season (spring/fall) as the birds are drawn to the lights and can smash into the side of the building.
This 1930's Art Deco building is one of NYC's favorite attractions, although, one warning....if it's cloudy or hazy don't waste the time or money, wait for a sunny day. On a clear day you can see for distances of 80 miles and into four other states: NJ, PA, CN and MA. This building was featured in one of my favorite movies, An Affair to Remember.
If you like standing in line and paying an extraordinary amount just to see the city from up above... then Empire State Building, the 381 meters high - (overall height with the 68m long antenna is 448 m) - Art Deco skyscraper is great. Its name comes from the nickname for the state of New York. Since its opening in 1931, it has been visited by 120 million people from Queen Elizabeth of the UK to Fidel Castro and even the soccer star Pele.
Time your visit for early or late in the day -- morning is the least crowded time -- when the sun is low on the horizon and the shadows are deep across the city.
When entering the building you must go through the security check. This consists of a walk-through scanner and baggage check system. You should have a picture ID too.
The major attraction is the 2nd-floor virtual tour simulator, the skyride techno journey.
It is a fun-filled presentation of movie, motion, and sights.
This visual and motion simulation experience allows you to “fly over” 30 sights, New York is famous for, lifting off from the top of the Empire State Building, soar through the Manhattan Skyline, glide past the Statue of Liberty, play in traffic at Times Square, "zoom" through Wall Street and ride the stomach-crunching Coney Island Cyclone. The half hour complete experience includes 2 pre-shows called “I am New York”, on the history of the Building and “Top 10 Things to do in New York”. No photography allowed.
The 86th-floor observatory, 320 meters, is open to the air, but has also an air-conditioned, glass-enclosed area. The 102nd-floor observatory is closed when crowds are too large.
On a clear day you can see approximately 130 km far in five US Federal States (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts). The top of the building is lit up every night in different colors.
The conquest of the stairs of Empire State Building is organized in every years. 1576 stairs of 86 floors wait for the candidates, who undertake to climb up under the possible shortest time onto the peak. The present record is 9 minutes and 33 seconds set up by an Australian professional cyclist in 2003.
Admission: Adult (18-61) $20, Senior (62+) and Youth (12-17) $18, Child (6-11) $ 14 but younger than 6 free, 102nd Floor Observatory is an additional $15.
Express Pass $45 (you will automatically be moved to the front of each and every line.
Lobby: free to the general public.
Observatory hours: Daily 8am - 2am next day. Last elevators go to the top at 11:15pm
During our 3.5 days in NYC we had the chance to visit both viewing platforms, the observation deck of Empire State Building as well as "Top of the Rock" on top of Rockefeller Center. Hence I decided to compare them in this tip, in order to help you decide which one to go to:
Both buildings are very impressive from the outside, with ESB being the higher and more famous one. The inside of ESB is very cool, lots of marble and art nouveau stuff but still I liked the stylish interiour of Rockefeller Center much better. Part of the reason for this might have been the building site inside ESB's "change elevator" floors.
ESB 1 - TOTR 1
The views are fantastic from both buildings but again I prefer Top of the Rock. The reason for this is that I rather live in the ugly building to see the nice ones from my windows than the other way around. I mean, it's great to be on ESB, thinking of King Kong and all the pictures and films we all know but it's even better to stand on Rockefeller Center and have beautiful Empire State Building in all your pictures!
Another advantage of Rockefeller Center is that it's nowhere near as crowded as ESB and that there are no metal bars blocking your views. On the lower floor of TOTR there is only glass between you and the drop. On the upper floor there is nothing (And the stone walls even act as natural tripods perfectly). However, from ESB you get the better view of Lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and Flatiron Building. Still it's ESB 1 - TOTR 2.
We visited ESB in the morning (around 10-11am) and went up Rockefeller Center at nightfall (4.30pm). It took us less than an hour to get up to ESB which was quicker than expected. Still the changing of elevators and queueing got onto our nerves quite quickly (Buy tickets online in advance to skip the ticket queue at least!). For Top of the Rock you buy your tickets outside at the booth near the iceskating rink, walk into the building, walk up a flight of stairs and just take the elevator up. No queues at security. No queues for elevators. No queues to come down again. Wonderful! Maybe ESB will be better when the reconstruction is finished and the elevators will go all the way up but for now it's definitely ESB 1 - TOTR 3.
You know me. I love my tourist shops. The shop in ESB, upstairs, was fantastic. Lots of Kitsch and colours. The one of TOTR, however, was rather boring and grey. Definitely a point for ESB: ESB 2 - TOTR 3
So, Top of the Rock won by one point - less clear than what I had expected when I started writing this because I really enjoyed Top of the Rock so much more than ESB. If you get the chance, go up both buildings. They are both worth it. Plus it's great to see the view during the day and at night. If I only had the time to visit one next time I am in NYC I would skip ESB and head straight to Rockefeller Center.
One of the many big buildings in NYC. It is also one of the famous buildings of the New York skyline.
You can go up to the 86th and 102nd floor. From here you have FANTASTIC vies over the city.
To the WEST you will see:
black spike of One Penn Plaza
Madison Square Garden sports entertainment complex
Jacob Javits Convention Centre
Location of the World War II aircraft carrier Intrepid
Newark International Airport
To the SOUTH you will see:
Many historical buildings
Wall Street structures
Statue of Liberty / Ellis Island
To the NORTH you will see:
St Patrick's Cathedral
Elite shopping districts
On a clear day you will see the states Connecticut and Massachusetts
To the EAST you will see:
United Nations Headquarter
Triboro, Whitestone and Throgs Neck Bridges
LaGuardia and JFK Airport
The building was built in just 410 days (10 million bricks, 6400 windows and 328,000sq ft marble).
It is located were the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel used to be.
It has 102 stories and it is 1472 feet (442 meters) high. The opening was in 1931.
The initial estimated total cost were $50 million, including land. But the actual final cost were $41 million. Renovation over the past ten years are $100 million ($59 million more than the original building cost).
It is open for the audience daily from 9.30am-midnight. The price for the Observatory and the Skyride is $43 (June 2008). When you purchase this ticket, you will get a leaflet to get a free t-shirt (which you can pick up at the souvenir gift shop).
This is a given if you've never been to NYC. Built during the Great Depression for years it stood as the tallest building in the world until the WTC North Tower surpassed it when it was completed in 1972. Its great to read and hear about the history of the Empire State Building but going up to the top and getting a 360 degree view of NYC is worthwhile and memorable. The observatory up top is open 7 days a week from 8am-2am with the final elevators going up at 1:15am. There are actually two observatories, one on the 86th floor and the other at the very top on the 102nd floor.
I was fortunate enough to visit NYC before the atrocity of the Twin Towers and clearly remember, as my picture shows, the way they jointly eclipsed all other buildings as they reached towards the heavens. My condolences to everyone who lost a loved one on that day.
First, an admission – we didn’t actually go up the Empire State Building on this visit to New York! On our first trip in 1982 we went up everything we could – this, the Rockefeller Center and the World Trade Center. This time, with only a week at our disposal, we decided to be more selective and chose the Top of the Rock for two reasons: firstly, the queues aren’t the problem they are here, and secondly, you get a great view of the Empire State Building from it, whereas of course you can’t get that when you’re on top of it! Despite not going up the building however, we inevitably saw a lot of it, and as it’s one of the city’s main tourist attractions I think it deserves a mention here.
The Observatory is on the 86th floor, 1,050 feet (320 meters) above street level. Over 3.5 million people ascend each year, which explains the aforementioned queues. You can speed things up a little by booking in advance, but you’ll still have to queue for the lifts, so come prepared to wait. There is an additional Observatory on the 102nd floor, for which tickets can’t be bought in advance, so that’s another wait if you want to go higher. Note that this is currently closed for renovations so check the website before you go. And if all this waiting sounds too much, you can buy an Express Pass, which entitles you to go to the front of every line, but this will cost you - $47 at the time of writing rather than the regular adult charge of $20.
If like us you decide not to go up the Empire State Building, do go take a look at it nevertheless. It was built in1930, during the Great Depression, as a deliberate (and successful) attempt to build the tallest building in the city and in the world, an honour it retained until 1972, when the World Trade Center took that honour. Following the destruction of the latter, the Empire State Building again took over as the tallest in New York, but other have meanwhile surpassed it elsewhere in the world. Just the same, while craning your neck to look up at it, you won’t be thinking it’s on the small side!
Make sure you check out the building at night time too, as the floodlighting is very effective. The colours change from time to time, depending on the time of year, current events and holidays etc. For instance, on the 5th November 2008 the building was lit up simply in blue, to celebrate Barack Obama’s victory in the previous day’s US Presidential election.
Casablanca Hotel New York City
1 Review and 2415 Opinions This is a Hotel /Bed and Breakfast. It is a oasis in the middle of Times Square. It is quiet inside...
Library Hotel New York City
3 Reviews and 1720 Opinions The Library is a good little hotel but the frustration is it could be a great hotel. Great concept...
The French Quarters Guest Apartments New York City
1 Review and 395 Opinions The location is great, some 5 minutes fom Time Square and is situated in the street called...
see all New York City member meetings