Empire State Building :: Manhattan, New York


New York City‘s Empire State Building has been one of the most talked about buildings in the world for a long time. It is still one of the most important buildings in the world and the tallest in the state. It was the tallest building in the world for forty years from 1931 when it was completed. The Empire State Building has two observatories on the 86th floor, and at the top on the 102nd floor. The 86th floor observatory is at a height of 1050 ft and the 102nd is at 1250 ft. The Empire State Building is located at the intersection of the Fifth Avenue and the West 34th Street.

From the observatory you will get an amazing view of Central Park, Times Square, the Flatiron Building, Brooklyn Bridge, Chrysler Building, Statue of Liberty and the entire skyline of New York City. Your horizon will be extended to as far as the states of Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts in addition to New York. You will not get such a view from anywhere else except from the air. The 86th floor is reached by high speed, automatic elevators. The observatory there is enclosed in glass and is heated in the winter and cooled in the summer. There are wide, outdoor promenades on all four sides. Powerful binoculars are provided in the promenades for a nominal charge. The visitors will get a 360 degree view from the observatory.

To visit these observatories identification documents are necessary. The observatories are open  everyday of the year from 8 am to 2 am. Only carry-on luggage is allowed. Cameras are permitted. A security check is mandatory for everyone on entering the building. No glasses and bottles are permitted inside the observatory. Cost of the ticket is $20 per person. At the entrance there are 3 lines for admittance. The first one is for security check. The second is for ticket purchase. If you have tickets purchased in advance, this line can be skipped. The third is for elevators to the observatory. If you purchase an Express Pass for $45, you are allowed to go to the front at every line. This charge does not include a visit to the 102nd floor observatory. It costs an additional $12. Your first elevator ride will take you to the 86th floor.  Yet another elevator ride is required for the 102nd floor. Tickets for that can be purchased either at the ground or at the 86th floor.

After purchasing the ticket your photograph is taken. After that you will pass a gift shop. Then there are the optional Skyride Concession and the Audio Tour. The former is a simulator film about New York and in the latter you will hear some interesting facts about the city. These services require additional charges.

A visit to the Empire State Building observation decks is a must do for any first time visitor to New York City.

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New York City (Lonely Planet City Guide)
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