For my birthday in October of 2015 we visited New York City for the first time and it was amazing. I absolutely fell in love with the city. One of the best days in New York was spent running around Midtown with Karen, one of the customers of the company I worked at until 2009. It was a blast, and we couldn’t have had a better today. However, nothing compared to the phenomenal views atop the Empire State Building. The only thing that even comes close to this would be the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It was definitely an experience. I will share our visit in a moment, but I would like to tell you a little about the building itself first.
Located on Fifth Avenue between West 33rd and 34th Streets, it is right in the middle of midtown. It is 102-stories high, has a roof height of 1,250 feet, and with its antenna spire included, it stands a total of 1,454 feet. The Empire State Building is currently the fifth-tallest completed skyscraper in the United States and the 29th-tallest in the world. It is also the fifth-tallest freestanding structure in the Americas. When measured by pinnacle height, it is the fourth-tallest building in the United States.
Opened on May 1, 1931, this iconic building is designed in the distinctive Art Deco style and has been named as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. As you might imagine, the building and its street floor interior are designated landmarks of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission and confirmed by the New York City Board of Estimate. It was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1986. In 2007, it was ranked number one on the AIA’s List of America’s Favorite Architecture.
As with many other iconic buildings, the Empire State Building has been in many movies through the years. The first time it appeared in a movie was in 1933. You may have heard of a little movie called King Kong, lol. It was also highlighted in Love Affair (1939), An Affair to Remember (1957), Sleepless in Seattle (1993), Fail-Safe (1964), The Producers (1968), The Time Machine (2002), Independence Day (1996), Knowing (2009), as well as many others.
The day we decided to go turned out to be one of the best days that week. Even though it was a little hazy at times, the views were phenomenal. We were very happy to be able to see the Statue of Liberty since we weren’t sure how clear the view would be. However, I felt like we were in a movie, as it was quite a production to get to the Observation Deck.
First, we had to line up in the lobby to take an escalator up to another level called the Visitor’s Center where everyone got in line to see if you had prepaid or not. If you did great, you moved on, if not you got in another line to buy your tickets. We went and got our tickets. After getting scrutinized by security, we got in another line to get what they call a multi-media handheld device. It was cool and kept us entertained while we waited in yet another line to go up to the 80th floor.
On this level, which they call the Dare to Dream Exhibit, they have some documents including period photographs, architectural sketches, construction notes, and daily bookkeeping documents, as well as reproductions of photos and mementos from the more than 3,400 workers who helped create history. It is quite interesting and we had fun walking around.
However, our journey to the top was not over yet! Yikes, We had to take one more elevator to get to the Main Desk on the 86th Floor, If we had paid to go to the 102nd floor, that would have been another elevator. Like I said it was quite a production. Took us about 45 mins (minus the time walking around the Dare to Dream Exhibit) to finally get outside to see the incredible views. It was a little tiring and frustrating, but it was oh so worth it. The views of the city from up there were spectacular!
As you can see from our picture below, it was quite cold and quite windy up there, but it was nice and sunny on the south side. Of course, that was where everyone was because it also had some of the best views. We walked around all four sides trying to pick out buildings we recognized and even found the Andaz Hotel where we were staying. I just kept thinking how different the city looked from that high up. It was definitely one of the highlights of our trip and will always remember our first experience at the Empire State Building. Here is a link to their website. Hope to visit again on our visit next year!
Empire State Building Visitor Information
20 W 34th Street
New York, NY 10001
Daily 8am – 2am.. The last elevator up is at 1:15AM.
There are many packages / prices for touring the Empire State Building. Here are some of the more popular tickets/combo tickets.
Main Deck (86th Floor) and 2nd Floor Museum
Enjoy 360 degree views from the 86trh Floor Observatory indoor and outdoor promenades.
102nd, 86th Floor and 2nd Floor Museum
The ultimate ticket. Take the elevators as high as you can go and experience 360 panoramic views of NYC.
New York City Pass
CityPASS includes the 86th floor observatory + bonus same night admission (between 10pm-closing), plus 5 more top attractions: The Met, AMNH, Statue of Liberty OR Circle Line Cruise, 9/11 Memorial & Museum OR Intrepid, and Top of the Rock OR Guggenheim.
86th Floor AM/PM Experience and 2nd Floor Museum
Spectacular 360-degree views of NYC… see the expansive daytime views and the city lights sparkle that night.
As with anywhere in NYC, leave the car at home! Just in case, the closest garage is located on 33rd Street between Fifth Avenue and Broadway, across the street from the building. The Empire State Building is minutes by foot from all of midtown Manhattan.
The Empire State Building is fully ADA compliant. They have handicapped restrooms on the 86th Floor Observatory and also have lowered viewing walls and binoculars.
Service dogs are allowed throughout the building.
Motorized and non-motorized wheelchairs are permitted.
The 86th Floor has ramps to make getting around easier and lowered viewing walls so that visitors in chairs can still take in the view. The 102nd Floor Observatory features floor-to-ceiling glass windows with unobstructed views.
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