If one thing symbolises New York it would have to be the Empire State Building. The world's tallest building from its construction in 1931 until 1972, over forty years. You have to go back to the 1600s to find a building that lasted as long. You have to go back to a time when people didn't even care what was the tallest building in the world.
It's not just the size of the building that has made it such an icon. The tower was catapulted into world fame just a couple of years after being built when it featured in the movie King Kong. The ape climbed to the top of the Empire State Building to fight biplanes with his bare hands. Such images are burned onto the retinas of movie lovers like me, and make this a magnet for millions of visitors every year.
Those visitors can make a visit to the observation deck a queuing nightmare. Snakes of people going around the block and tales of three hour waits are not unusual. Somehow we got lucky. We went straight to the tower early one morning only to find what must have been hundreds of people already there before us, and the queue weaved around the corner. We gave up. But later, around lunchtime, we accidentally walked past and there was no queue at all. We got to the observation deck in about ten minutes.
The views really are outstanding. If you go up only one tall building in the world, make it this one.
Arguably the world's most famous skyscraper is the Empire State building. Built in 1931 it was at 1,250 feet the worlds tallest building until it was surpassed by the World trade center in 1972. Today the 102 floor observatory provides magnificent views over Manhattan.
The Empire State Building is probably one of the two most iconic symbols of New York City, the Statue of Liberty being the other one. It was opened in 1931 and now has its own zip code. The style is Art Deco and it has some lovely detailing through the building and in the lobby, with a "man and machine" type theme. The outside of the building isn't an overly special design, not like the beautiful nearby Chrysler building, but it's silhouette is still famed and the views from the 86th floor observation deck more than make up for it.
There are two observation decks, an outside one on the 86th floor and one on the 102nd floor which is glassed in. It cost more to go to the higher level. They also have an exhibit on the 80th floor about the building's history. The building is open from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. so you can go up late and watch the lights of the city come on or see the city wake up at your feet. It really is better to go early or later due to the crowds. It's open every day and is fully accessible with ramps and elevators.
The summer is the really busy season for tourists visiting, and you can expect really long waits. We went in early May, mid morning and it still took an hour from walking in the lobby to going out on the observation deck. That's the tedious part, waiting in line ups and there are plenty of them, even if you have a ticket before you go in. You can buy tickets online or you can gain entry if you've bought one of the various city Pass cards. We had the Explorer pass so we still had to go to a ticket booth to have it scanned. If crowds make you fidgity or claustrophobic, either go early or late or avoid this.
Is it a tourist trap? Yes probably it is. They herd you through the first security line. The ticket line wasn't nearly so long so I assume most people already had tickets or passes. But then they want y ou to stop for a photo in front of a green screen so they can sell you a photo later with "the view" behind you. There's a queue to wait for the elevator which takes you to the 80th floor in case you want to see the history exhibit and then there's another one for the last 6 floors and yet another for the 102nd floor if you are going that far. They charge you a lot more to get an express ticket to bypass most of the lines.
They do have gift shops and in the lobby there are places to eat. On a nice day the views are spectacularly breathtaking but the observation deck is not that wide so it gets crowded easily. It was pretty busy when we were there, I can't imagine how packed out it must be in summer. There is an indoor section too with glass walls if it's cold or rainy but that's no fun, is it?
Bus to 33rd street or the subway to 34th/Herald Square. The ESB is on 34th and 5th ave.
General admission is $25 for the 86th floor, $42 for the 102nd. There are discounts for seniors and children. The express passes cost about another 20 dollars on top of the GA prices and really, things don't look that much different from 102 than they do from 86. It's an iconic building and it's worth doing if you've got the stamina for the lines and the crowds on a good day with a basic General Admission cost. We did it and it was great!
The 102 story skyscraper EMPIRE STATE BUILDING is located in midtown Manhattan at the intersection of 5th Avenue and West 34th Street. It boasts a height of 443 meters and 102 Floors.. It stood as the world's tallest building for 40 years.
It is designed in the Art Deco style.
The Empire State Building has one of the most popular outdoor observatories in the world. The 86th floor observation deck offers 360-degree views of the city. There is a second observation deck on the 102nd floor that is also open to the public.
Our Bus tour package did not include the Empire State Building Observation Deck. We were instead treated to the "Top of the Rock" which I must say, offered excellent views of the Empire State Building.
Even though it took us approximately 2 hours (and most likely it will take you just as long) until we finally made it to the top of the Empire State Building (not because we walked up the stairs - most of our time was spent waiting in line to enter one of the elevators), I'd highly recommend visiting the Empire State Building as a trip to New York City would not complete without admiring the view from above and getting that queasy feeling in your stomach. The Empire State Building is 444 meters tall and it is located at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street. When you're on top of the Empire State Building you'll enjoy looking 444 meters down to Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street. Unless you're acrophobic. In which case you may prefer standing on Fifth Avenue or West 34th Street looking 444 meters up. Either way, it's a great place to visit, but only from the top can you see the curvature of the earth.
The Empire state building is really pretty and TALL. We had the New York Pass (Which I highly recommend to everyone visiting NYC) and the pass got us a free virtual tour of the city. I do not suggest anyone that gets car sick easily to do this tour because it basically is a virtual helicopter flying over the city. Then we were able to take the elevator up to the top, oh but that’s not it… then you have to walk another couple of flights of stairs. Whew.. tiring. But when you get to the top it was so worth the climb! The day we went it was super crowded and very hard to get a decent picture so try your hardest to go on a weekday when the crowds are smaller.
Zip up to the 86th floor observatory on our speedy elevators and take in the view.
Senior (62+) $22
Child (6-12) $19
Although I did not find Meg Ryan, nor even a reasonable facsimile, up there, I will nevertheless attest to the fact that from the 102nd floor of this majestic architectural (and cinematic) icon you will have magical views of New York and surrounding states, from the concrete canyons of Midtown to the myriad islands in the harbour. Buy your tickets online to avoid long queues. For a little less you can end your ascent at the 86th floor, but you only go round once in life so, please go for the top.
I miss the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center but, in my mind, the Empire State Building will always be the skyscraper star of New York City.
This grand old building was begun in 1930. The architect, William Lamb, broke new ground with his then-revolutionary design. President Herbert Hoover officially opened in a year later. For many years, it was the world's tallest building.
It's still a big favorite. If you wish to take the elevator to the top, I recommend buying tickets well in advance--especially during summer and on weekends. The view is among the best.
To enter the Empire State Building there is a cost. You travel up to to the observation deck on the 86th floor by lift. The views are amazing. You can have a 360 degree view of Manhattan. You don't realise how many buildings have been fitted on the island!
If you want the best views of New York City, this is the place to get them!
One of the best times to see NYC from the Empire State Building is just before sunset. The magnificent views are made more memorable by the change in the city's mood - from boring daytime scenes to that rush hour when everyone seems to be in a bit of a rush to get out of the island. But the most spectacular change occurs when the lights within the buildings become more visible, as the city's skyline transforms into a forest of structures with mesmerizing twinkling lights.
Of course, this is only possible if the weather cooperates, so it's advisable to check the weather bulletin. Good weather, however, does not guarantee that you're going to be warm and comfortable up there in the observatory, 86 storeys high. I learned this the hard way: it could really get cold up there with the wind factor, but I was determined to capture the city's changing mood with my lens. I hope the pictures were well worth the effort - and the numbed fingers.
The Empire State Building is not just famous for its observatory - it is a destination by itself. While you're in it, take a few moments to admire the buildings art deco style like the bronze art deco medallions at the lobby, as well as the relief image of the building. Architecturally, the building had earned a place in numerous lists of the world's greatest skyscrapers.
Given its well-earned status as symbol of the city (among many other symbols), the colors of the building's floodlights are changed either in celebration of a festival, or sometimes to honor other countries - sometimes controversially, like when it splashed red and yellow lights to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Chinese revolution in September 2009. A bit interesting for one of the symbols of free enterprise to honor one of communism's most historic events.
Whether one is in agreement with the choice of colors for the tower lights or not, the sight of the tallest building in the city lit up in some interesting colors - in effect making a statement - is one of those memorable (and free) NY experience for the visitors.
One of the best vantage points to start your NYC visit - in truly iconic fashion, sans King Kong, but 20 dollars poorer - is the from the observatory of the Empire State Building. Its location between Midtown and Lower Manhattan affords visitors a magnificent views of the Manhattan itself as well as the surrounding landscapes (and seascapes), including the Liberty and Ellis Islands.
If you're not in a rush (and if you wish to maximize the 20-dollar ticket), allot a few hours at the observatory, preferably around sunset when the city's mood changes. I did just that and it's well worth seeing the city at daytime and at dusk when the buildings start to reveal their lights. Quite a sight.