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Empire State Building Tips (374)

Empire State Building

The Empire State Building - a 102-story, 381 m high skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan (5th Avenue between 33rd and 34th street), completed in 1931 - is probably the most famous building in New York, and an iconic landmark. For nearly 40 years it was the the worlds tallest building until surpassed by the World Trade Center Tower in 1970. After the 9/11 attacks, it was again the tallest building in New York, until surpassed by the One World Trade Center in 2012. Today, it is the fifth-tallest skyscraper in the USA and the 25th-tallest skyscraper in the world. The viewing platforms of the Empire State Building on the 86th and 102nd level have probably the best panoramic view of New York City.

Early queing is recommended as the thorough but efficient and fast security can cause waiting times. You are usually waiting at the sidewalk, for the elevator, at the ticket booth, at security and for the second elevator leading to the observation deck. Floodlights illuminate the building at night, often in colours matching an event that is celebrated at the time. The Empire State Building was used as a movie location many times, among the most notable films "King Kong", "An affair to remember" and "Sleepless in Seattle".

MichaelFalk1969's Profile Photo
Oct 09, 2015

The Iconic Empire State Building

This is yet another icon of New York City. Glimpses of it are shown in movies and TV shows set in NYC. It is internationally famous.

We have learned that the Empire State Building stands at 1,454 Feet high, including the antenna spire.

It was the first building in the world that was 100 stories or more. It has 102 stories.

When construction was complete in 1931 it became the world's tallest building for 40 years until 1972 when the North Tower of the original World Trade Center was finished.

The name, “Empire State Building” was given because New York State is referred to as “the Empire State.”

After the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center demolished the Twin Towers, the Empire State Building became the tallest building in New York City.

The Empire State Building is no longer the tallest building in New York City, though, if the spire on the newly opened One World Trade Center Tower is counted towards its total height.

The Empire State Building is frequently lit up different colours at night.

It has its own zip code or postcode.

The building has been used and featured in many movies including King Kong, Sleepless in Seattle, and Independence Day.

There is an annual race to run up to the 86th floor.

The top of the Empire State Building is used for broadcasting the majority of commercial TV stations and FM radio stations.

And here's another tip - if you want to buy some souvenirs for family and friends back home, there are some better priced souvenirs in stores near the Empire State Building than at near Times Square.

HulaJoy's Profile Photo
Jan 20, 2015

Wide views best views of town. Our guide planned our time to go up at sunset, and I understood why.

If, for a good photo, the light won't help at that hour, the show of lights appearing here and there, and finally everywhere, is gorgeous, and, with luck, the photos will not be that bad.

solopes's Profile Photo
Nov 01, 2014

Empire State Building

When it was built in the 1930's the Empire State Building broke all records and was dubbed 'the 8th world wonder'. It has 73 elevators and was constructed in only 1 year and 45 days. The skyscraper towered over the neighborhood with its height of 381 meters (1250 ft). As the Empire State Building was one of the last skyscrapers built before the Great Depression hit the real estate market, it wouldn't be topped until 1972, when the twin World Trade Towers dethroned the Empire State Building as the world's tallest building.The Empire State Building is built on a full city block. Most of it was occupied by the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, which opened in 1897 as the city's largest hotel with 1050 rooms as the most prestigious in New York. It was innagurated on May 1, 1931 in the presence of governor Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The Empire State Building was designed by William Frederick Lamb of the architectural firm of Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon. Lamb, influenced by Raymond Hood's Daily News building, came up with a fairly simple design, defined by requirements such as the budget, time limit and New York City's 1916 zoning law. The building would have a classical composition of a five story base, a large tower with setbacks and a monumental spire. The limestone facade had little or no ornamentation. Is simple design and sheer bulk gives the building a certain grandeur.

The observatory on the 86th floor has incredible views of New York. It's south of Midtown, away from the skyscraper clusters in midtown and in the financial district downtown, so this is one of the few places in Manhattan where you have an open 360 degree view. If you're looking for the best view of the Empire State Building itself, you better go to Rockefeller Center's observatory. Yes there are long lines & it's touristy, but we've gone with out of town friends recently.

apbeaches's Profile Photo
Sep 16, 2014
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Top of Mnahattan-from Empire State Bldg!

It was one of the last skyscrapers built before the Great Depression hit the real estate market. Its height of 381 meter (1253 ft) wouldn't be topped until 1972, when the twin World Trade Towers eclipsed the Empire State Building.

It is a 102-story Art Deco skyscraper in New York, NY on the intersection of 5th Ave and W 34th Street. Its name is derived from the nickname for the state of New York. It stood as the world's tallest building for more than forty years, from its completion in 1931 until the construction of the World Trade Center North Tower topped out on December 23, 1970. It is now once again the tallest building in New York, after the destruction of the World Trade Center in the September 11, 2001 attacks.

You can visit the Empire State Building's observatory on the 86th floor from where you have a magnificent view over the city of New York. The Empire State Building is situated south of Midtown, away from the skyscraper clusters in midtown and in the financial district downtown, so this is one of the few places in Manhattan where you have an open 360 degrees view.

Ticket Prices*
Adults (18-61) $16.61 (+$1.39Tx)
Youth (12-17) $14.76 (+$1.24Tx)
Child (6-11) $11.07 (+$.93Tx)
Seniors (62+) $14.76 (+$1.24Tx)
Military w/ID $14.76 (+$1.24Tx)

*A $2.00 surcharge will be added to the price of each ticket at the time of purchase.
Observatory is open 8:00 am to 2:00 am the following day everyday!

machomikemd's Profile Photo
Jul 25, 2014

Highlight of the trip!

Surprisingly many people told us not to go to Empire state building. They said it was not worth the price, and there is nothing SO special about it etc. I´, glad we didn´t listen to them. I bought the tickets as a birthday present for my husband two months before the trip, but I didn´t choose the time and day to go, even though I had a special day in my mind. (The 20th "anniversary" of our first date). It was 12th of March, and we did go that day (even if it wasn´t a nice weather, but that day ment a lot for us, and we wanted to do something special that day).
It was little bit rainy, but we not heavily. It was of course cloudy that day, but it somehow looked quite nice. Only thing we were sorry about, was that we came to early! We thougt it would take at least an hour to get to top, when all the guidebooks told us so, but since it was off season, we could just walk in and go up. So we were there too early to see the city lights. We tried to wait, but the time of sunset I had found in internet, was set too early.
We loved the oldish style of the place! All the signs and such were like form "Mad Men" or something.
I´m afraid of high places, but somehow this didn´t fwwl bad at all. Coupple of months later my mother did also went here, and she is absolutelly frightened of hights and I needed to talk her over to get up there (with my dad). She loved it, and wasn´t scared at all! So it is somehow so high, you don´" "feel" it, or your mind can´t "understand" it. Don´t leave it because of the hight!
Too bad there is none bar or anything up there, so we couldn´t toast for our day!

Turska's Profile Photo
Jun 23, 2014

Top of the Empire State Building

Until a few months ago, the Empire State Building was once again the tallest buildng in New York City. Although now #2, it is still an icon and world-wide symbol of NYC. Building started shortly after the Crash of '29. With 3,000 men working, the building rose 4 1/2 stories a week. On May 1, 1931 the building was officially opened. Although the building is 1,250 feet tall, a 217 foot antenna was added in 1950 for TV/FM radio/Emergency Broadcasting that brought the height of 1,467 feet.

In 1981 the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission declared the building a landmark, in 1982 it was listed on the State & National Register of Historic Places and in 1986 it was recognized as a National Historic Landmark by the National Parks Services, I.S. Department of the Interior.

The ESB has been featured in over 250 movies and is the location for countless weddings. The ESB has lightings - tower lights - that celebrate cultures and causes, religious holidays such as Christmas (with green and red), and even local sports events/championships such as the NY Yankees and NY Mets Subway Series (the last in 2013).

We are frequently asked whether it's best to go to the top of the ESB or Top of the Rock and I have long recommended the ESB. I finally understand the other point of view - mine may have been more sentimental. I do love the views from the ESB - especially of the bridges leading out of Manhattan but the point that keeps coming back is that you can't SEE the ESB FROM the ESB! So if you have time/money for only 1, I'd recommend the Top of the Rock.

If you do decide to go to the ESB, note that the lines can be excruciatingly long - as they are during the Christmas holidays and on many summer days. You'll have to wait on three lines - one for security, one to buy your tickets, and one for the elevator. At least avoid the ticket line and buy your tickets to the 86th floor observatory online. (To continue to the 102nd floor - which I really liked - even though it's enclosed - you have to buy the tickets from the 86th floor to the 102nd floor at the ticket office on the 2nd floor or the kiosk on the 8th floor.) You can also skip the elevator line by buying an express pass but it costs twice as much as the price of a regular ticket. I don't think it's worth it.

Be warned that the guys outside of the building will try and sell you combo tickets (that includes the Skyride, which I would definitely skip), express tickets, etc. Do your homework and know what you want to buy (or buy online), otherwise it can get very expensive!

ESB is also included in New York's City Pass -

You can check - - to see what colors will be lit on a particular day.

Open daily 365 days a year. 8:00am to 2:00am 7 days a week.

Donna_in_India's Profile Photo
Jan 04, 2014

Very Nice View

This is another must visit place in the city for a first timer. Make sure you visit the tower if you've never been before.

There are multiple lines to multiple elevators going up. The line keeps moving at a steady pace, so no worry there. If you have the city pass, you can come back up for the second time at night time. I suggest you go this route. It's very cool to see the view at night.

Take lots of pictures when you get to the top. The view is amazing. Don't forget your audio tour and learn about the different Burroughs of New York City.

We enjoyed visiting the tower.

acebruin's Profile Photo
Dec 20, 2013

Top 5 New York City Writers

Gypsystravels's Profile Photo


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"NYC: Everyday, Something new."
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"I Heart New York."
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""I want to be a part of it ...""
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". : New York City : ."
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...Old Mr Empire Never Says a Word...

An elevator to the top of the Empire State was the very first thing we did in New York on our first visit, long ago in January 1991. Walked from Penn Station in chilly sunshine, and rode the elevator right to the 102nd floor.

The viewing deck is quite small, but give expansive views over the low rise buildings to the south, which of course was at that time punctuated by the twin obelisks of the old World Trade Centre towers. More impressive though are the close up views of the surrounding skyscrapers, providing a differing perspective to the neck craning street level one.

I cannot remember what we paid in 1991, but I'd guess about $5.

Orchid's Profile Photo
Nov 10, 2013

My first tall building

No, not that this is the first time I've been up in a tall building. In 1964, this was the first tall building, I went to the top. Well, it's only the 86th? floor. Far up enough. The air is 10 degrees cooler and the wind is brisk. Plenty thick stone railings and wire fences to keep you safe. It was a great time to visit. Early, short line, uncrowded deck.

The line, moved as a walking rate. It was just the length of the halls that took time. No standing. But, then we were there about 8:30 a.m.

Toughluck's Profile Photo
Oct 08, 2013

Empty Building no more!

If you have never been here before, do not pass up the opportunity to see a historical and iconic building that has identified New York City as one of the most popular and global city in the world!

Built between 1930 and 1931 during the era of the Great Depression, this building was criticized as "The Empty Building" due to its high vacancy and unprofitablity. Today we see a far different story. According to David Robertson from "The Times" in a April 23, 2012 article, the Empire State Building makes more money off observation-deck ticket sales than the rental of office space! This was clearly seen as we waited in line to obtain tickets with our New York Pass cards (Please note that New York Pass Card holders do not have the extra privilege of obtaining tickets through a faster or shorter waiting line - they must stand in line with everyone else).

The ticket lines start on the 2nd floor and you must pass through a regular security screening checkpoint prior to obtaining tickets. Elevators whisk you away from the 2nd to the 80th floor where another line awaits you to take another elevator to the 86th floor. Both the 80th and 86th floor have restrooms. While on the 80th floor, there were various displays describing the construction and history of the building. An attendant also allowed us to climb a set of stairs six floors up to the observation deck to the 86th floor. She said it would be a 5-7 minute climb as opposed to a 15-minute wait for the next set of elevators coming back down for pick-up. We chose the stairs and the climb was not too bad, with older folks taking their time as there was no rush.

The observation deck was full of people, but was still manageable enough to get around on all four sides of the deck to see the beautiful panoramic views of Manhattan Island, Hudson River, East River, Queens, Brooklyn, and New Jersey. People packed the viewing areas but one does not need to wait too long (I would say less than 5 minutes) to have someone scoot aside and have you squeeze through to the viewing edge of the deck and take in your scenes with your eyes and camera. The views on top provided excellent aerial scenes of the growing metropolis around you. We clearly saw the World Trade Center 1 building and the hundreds of other buildings surrounding us. Keep in mind this building does not allow the closer views of Central Park that the observation deck of the Rockefeller Building provides. However, I felt the panoramic views of this building was much better situated in the center of all the development down below and gave a better panoramic sense of growth that New York City offers. It was educational and fun looking for the other buildings from the deck (Chrysler Building, Flatiron, Citi-Corp Building, Bank of America Building, WTC 1, Rockefeller Building with observation deck, our hotel building where we stayed, etc.)

The Empire State Building deck hours are open from 8:00 am to 2:00 am and even during inclemental weather, so be sure to check the forecast for the day. Suggested times to avoid long lines is early morning (before 10:00 am) or after 11:00 pm. There is also an Express Pass for $50 that allows you to bypass the long lines and fast-track you to the observation deck.The last elevator goes up at 1:15 am. You can go to the official Empire Building website before your travel to get the latest updates for prices, deck hours, and visitor tips.

jgacis's Profile Photo
Sep 02, 2013

Photo opportunity from a grand height

We climbed* the Empire State building using our New York Pass which we had purchased on the Qantas Activities page It did mean that we went to the front of the line* and there were long queues!! You have to be checked by security and of course queue to have your photo taken. The views are fantastic and well worth a visit.
If you have a New York Pass you are entitled to a “free” sky ride (Sky ride Empire State Building). This is a section cordoned off as you queue to get into the lift. There are three galleries* One on the treasures of New York, a second gallery on the history of the building of the Empire State building and last, a motion ride. This is touted as a virtual simulator tour of the New York city skyline. The tour* is in 3D and the seats simulate movement. Beware if you get motion sickness. I felt quite ill after.

albaaust's Profile Photo
Jun 26, 2013

Things To Do Near Empire State Building

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Getting to Empire State Building


350 5th Ave., New York, NY 10118


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