Along with the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building is one of the most iconic structures in New York City. The 102nd-floor observation deck had been closed for renovations. The original windows in the observatory were short in height and have now been replaced by full-height windows. The 102nd-floor just reopened on October 11th and I was there a week ago to see the sights.
The site dates back to the Revolutionary War when it was a farm. In 1826, John Jacob Aster bought the land now totaling 20 acres for $20,500.00. The site on 5th Avenue from 32nd Street to 35th Street was developed into a hotel. The hotel closed in 1929 and a group of investors called Empire State Inc. bought the property and adjacent land.
The race was on to build the world’s tallest building. Empire was competing with the 40 Wall Street building and the Chrysler building for that title. If your building was coming up a little short, install a mast to increase the height. The Empire State Building started at 50 floors and ended up 86 floors beating the Chrysler Building by a mere four feet. Just to be sure, the Empire State Group added the tower to include the observation deck on what would become the 102nd floor to make sure that they had the tallest building.
The building in its early years was a financial failure. The depression and years of low vacancies did not produce enough rent to make a profit. The idea was born to sell tickets to the top of the observation level.
What to See
You will enter the building from the north side at 20 West 34th Street and enter the lobby. Leaving the lobby, you will go up to the museum and exhibits on the second floor. From the second floor you will take an elevator to the 80th floor and another one to the 86th floor. The 86th floor has both indoor and outdoor viewing platforms. The movie, Sleepless in Seattle was shot on the outside platform. If you have tickets to the 102nd floor, you will get in line for the elevator to the 102nd floor. If you have paid for the VIP Express Pass option, you can bypass the line. We went on a beautiful Saturday with the basic tickets and our wait for the elevator from the second floor was about 25 minutes. The wait at the 86th floor to go up was about 15 minutes. Tickets are capacity controlled so that everybody has a good view from the top without bumping into other visitors.
The Empire State Building in Pop Culture
The Empire State Building has been used for the production of several movies. Not to be left out, LEGO has an Empire State Building in its architecture series.
The Elevator Ride Up To The 80th Floor
Be sure to look up at the top of the elevator. The elevator ceiling is a display panel that makes it look like there is no top of the elevator car and you are watching the workers building the structure.
From the 80th floor, you will transfer to another elevator to take you to the 86th-floor observation level.
The View From The Top
Now you are at the very top and you can enjoy the views from these new, full-height windows. The photos taken from the 102nd floor are what you will see – no telephoto was used.
Tips to Get to The Top
Tickets to the top (102nd floor) are capacity controlled and should be purchased in advance from the Empire State Building. Tickets are sold in blocks of time:
- 8:00 am to noon
- noon to 4:00 pm
- 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm
- 8:00 pm to 2:00 am
You must enter the lobby before your time block expires. The costs for tickets to the 86th and 102nd floors are below and do not include the NY tax and processing fee.
- $58.00 for adults
- $56.00 for seniors
- $52.00 for children ages 6 to 17
- Children under 6 are free
VIP Express Pass:
You can skip the lines with the VIP experience. The ticket price for all ages is $93.00. Children under 6 are free.