* Prices may differ from that shown
Although I had been to the Empire State Building on a previous holiday to New York, I really wanted to go there again. The Empire State Building has 102 floors! It is located at 5th avenue/west 34th street. Building began in 1930 and remarkably was completed in 1931! There was a work force of around 3000 men whom were managing to build 4 ½ floors per week! There are also 67 elevators!
The design of the building inside is spectacular; Art Deco, very elegant and quite beautiful. Unfortunately it was the time of the Depression when the building was completed; it was meant to be an office building but much of the space remained unrented.
Some people have committed suicide by jumping off the building but safety fences were erected to try to stop this (www.wikipedia)
On our trip we went as high as the 86th Floor where there is the indoor and outdoor observation deck. At first my sister thought you couldn't go outside! I said to her. 'Look, of course you can!'
It was a fairly miserable day when we went; rainy and a bit windy, but the views are magnificent! You can see the whole of Manhattan, Central park, New Jersey, Brooklyn, Long Island and on clear days you can see further afield.
On the 80th floor there is also an exhibition with photographs and a history of the building. Within the building are a couple of gift shops and a café where you can get food and drink.
It is $25 or around £16 to get to the 86th floor observatory and it costs $42 to get all the way to the 102nd floor (prices per adult); child prices are less. If you get the New York pass; the Empire state building is included with the pass (up to 86th Floor) and you can skip the main queues outside! You will also get to go on the the Skyride, a motion simulator which takes you above the buildings of Manhattan via a high definition screen; it's pretty good and is narrated by Kevin Bacon. If you don't have the New York pass you can buy a combined Empire state building observatory ticket/skyride ticket.
Highly recommend when in New York city; 5 Dooyoo stars from me!
Going to New York City for the first time and visiting The Empire State Building kind of go hand in hand with one another, so whilst making our itinerary for our trip we obviously made plenty time to see the best view of the city.
Our hotel was right in Times Square, so getting to The Empire State Building was incredibly easy, it's only about a 15 minute walk but as we'd managed to get ourselves lost the day before, we decided taking the subway would be our best bet. We hopped on the N line downtown from the Times Square station and got off at Herald Square, which left us with a short walk to the door of the building. Despite it being the tallest building around, it still took us a good 5 minutes to spot it so we knew which direction to go in. Unfortunately, on our walk there we were stopped by the police and told we couldn't go any further as there had been a shooting right outside the building just an hour before (August 24th). Our trip was cut short before it had even begun! Luckily we were able to access the building before leaving the city, so we made the same subway trip down a few days later and headed towards the door.
Anyone who has been to NYC before will be well aware that there is always someone trying to sell you something, especially in Times Square. After being scammed on our first night in the city, we decided just to ignore anyone trying to sell us something in the streets, whether they looked genuine or not. On our walk down from the subway, we were stopped by 3 men dressed in purple polo shirts with "NY Skyride" printed on them. My boyfriend brushed them off, but they kept insisting that if we were going to The Empire State Building then they had a good deal for us, so we listened without promising to buy their tickets. One of the men continued on to tell us that we could go inside and get a regular ticket for $40 or we could get a VIP ticket from him that would grant us access to the NY Skyride and give us a map of the view from the top of the building. He assured us that the VIP ticket would mean we wouldn't have to wait in any queues and was only $10 more. My boyfriend told him we weren't interested as he didn't believe the spiel and asked where we go for the general observatory tickets. We were told to take the entrance on the left (33rd Street).
The entrance on the left had around 15 people queuing up, all of which were granted access to the building without having tickets checked at the door. It wasn't until we'd gone up an elevator and taken to another queue that we realised we'd been directed straight to the NY Skyride ticket centre instead of the entrance for The Empire State Building observatory. We explained to the staff what had happened but they told us that now we were this far we would only be able to purchase a combo ticket for the skyride and the observatory. These tickets were $57 each and then a further $9 for a map - the map was not optional, therefore should just have been included in the price.
By this point we were absolutely furious. We'd just been scammed again, except this time by a famous tourist attraction and were now waiting in a queue for the skyride - something we'd never heard of nor had any idea of what it was. All we'd wanted to do was go to the top of the building to see the view, which we made very clear to the staff both inside and out.
After a 15 minute wait in a room made to look like Central Park, we were taken through to continue the skyride. This was a 3 part event that ended on a simulator. The first area was made to look like a newsroom and played videos of the Top 10 things to do in NYC - this was fairly dated and poor quality, which is a bit rubbish really considering we'd just paid over $100 to be there - as had the other 30 or so people that were on our Skyride with us.
Step 2 was a round, dark room with a video explaining why the Twin Towers would still be in the simulation. There was a short video explaining what the Twin Towers meant for the city and what the grounds mean for the city today which set me off in tears because we'd just been to visit the memorial site the day before.
We were finally taken through to the simulation which was essentially a small cinema room with roller coaster type seats. When the simulation started, it turned out that it was just a trip round the city with a not-very-funny narrator and vibrating seats. We were fairly disappointed.
We then got to pass through the queue and head straight for the observatory, having already spent an hour or so in the building, we were finally getting to do what we'd planned all along!
We were taken in an elevator up to the 80th floor, and then another elevator up to the 86th floor where the observatory was. Each side of the building has a sign stating which side you are facing so that you can check with the corresponding bit of the map. The Empire State Building does have incredible views, I'll give it that, however we discovered that Rockefeller Centre has the better views of the city as you can get a full view of Central Park along with being able to take some nice photos with The Empire State Building in the background - this is something you obviously can't do if you're standing on top of it!
You do get to see the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and the Ground Zero site (along with the Freedom Tower which is currently under construction), however they looked quite dull in the distance due to the smog. We visited on a beautiful day, but NYC is known for being smoggy and because we were so high up, the photos have all come out with a line of smog running across the top.
The observatory was incredibly busy, as expected, but due to the high volumes of people, we were actually rushed around the four sides before being asked to make way for new visitors. We spent around 15 minutes at the top, taking in the view and taking some pictures before being told we could pay another fee to go to the 102nd floor or we could just leave. We decided just to leave as there would be nothing extra we'd be able to see from the 102nd floor and we'd already paid a fortune to be there anyway.
After having a quick look around the gift shop and deciding we didn't want to give the building any more of our money, we left.
Upon leaving the building, we discovered the main observatory entrance where tickets are only $25 and you get straight to the top without having to bother with the tacky, dated simulation. We were left incredibly disappointed, both with ourselves and the staff. We'd wished we'd done a little more research on the entrance and ignored the annoying staff outside, but we also wished that when we'd stated we only wanted to go to the observatory that the staff would have directed us the right way instead of right into where they wanted us to start with.
We'd been to Top of The Rock (the observatory at the top of Rockefeller Centre) on our second night in the city and after visiting The Empire State Building, we wished we'd done Top of The Rock twice. Once during the day and again at night. I would only recommend The Empire State Building to you if you feel it is something you cannot go to NYC without seeing, but you'll get the best views from Top of The Rock and an all round nicer experience too.
Top tips for visiting!
- Make sure that you go to the MAIN entrance if you want to avoid being roped into the Skyride. This is a complete waste of time and money so you don't need to do it. The main entrance is on 5th Avenue and will grant you access straight up to the observatory.
- If you do get stopped by the ticket guys outside, don't follow their directions when you tell them you only want to go to the observatory. Even if they insist that they've told you to go to the correct entrance, continue on down the road until you get to 5th Avenue and enter that way.
- Don't bother with the $9 map. Anything that is of interest is either blatantly obvious from the top, or can be pointed out by the staff manning the top of the building.
- Go on a nice day, it sounds obvious but you'll get much better views if it's a clear day. Even with the sun shining and very few clouds, you're so high up that there is still smog and a bit of dullness in the air.
- Play around with your camera whilst you're there. We got some really cool photos by poking our cameras out over the edge and tilting them certain ways. Some of the shots we got of yellow cabs came out really well because of this!
- Stand right at the centre of the South side where there is one huge long straight of road. Take a photo aiming along that road and you'll have a beautiful shot of lower Manhattan.
- If you're asked to leave because other people are coming up, ask if you can stay a bit longer. There are no time limits made clear on the tickets so in theory, you should be able to stay as long you like, especially if you've just paid for the "golden ticket" like we had!
All in all, I didn't really enjoy my morning at The Empire State Building, as much as I tried to and left feeling really angry that we'd been scammed and then only got 15 minutes at the top. We actually ended up going back to Rockefeller Centre to praise them on their service after experiencing Empire State and would 100% recommend going to Top of the Rock instead. I have a review of that to follow.
I'll be giving our experience 2 stars as we did get to see some incredible views, but nothing worth the money we paid when we could've seen the same things for $25. As I mentioned earlier, I'll recommend it to you if you feel you must visit the building, but I only recommend the $25 ticket as the combo ticket is a complete waste of time and money.
Thanks for reading!
I don't think this review is going to be extremely helpful to the average traveler wishing to visit the Empire State Building, but I just wanted to clear something up. Before I'd been to New York other people who had never even been themselves - yet decided that they were experts - told me that it wouldn't be a good attraction for me to go to, as it wouldn't be suitable for a wheelchair user to see the sites from the top.
So naturally upon disembarking at Newark and checking into my hotel, I went to check it out for myself so I could take some nice photos and rub them in everyone's faces [grrr].
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The regular observatory is located on the 86th floor, which is 1050 above ground level.
There are famously said to be five separate queues when visiting the Empire State Building; the sidewalk line, the lobby elevator line, the ticket purchase line, the second elevator line, and the line to get off the elevator and onto the observation deck. I've now been to New York three times for Christmas shopping and visited the EST twice each time and can honestly say that I've never seen lines outside the building or in the lobby.
Here's where my review stops being helpful to the majority of travellers; A staff member has always escorted me from the lobby elevator to the front of the ticket purchase line, then from there we go straight to the front of the line for the high speed elevators [ear poppingly fast], wait two minutes or so, then it's straight onto the observation deck. My Dad and brothers have all been to ESB and say the queues vary between 40 minutes and 90 minutes, depending on the weather and season [Halloween through to New Year is the busiest period].
(I'd normally be a little embarrassed about breezing past everyone, but I've spent eight hours in Macy*s on a Black Friday and being shoved and getting shopping bags whacked in my face all day cured me off the embarrassment and allowed me to be smug)
On the observation desk is a [enclosed] gift shop and the walkways that completely surround it are open air. There is a low wall and fence [easy to take photos through] all around the walkways, but the wall is at different heights so I could enjoy the stunning views without the wall blocking my line of sight. High powered binoculars are spaced around the deck - also at different heights so everyone can enjoy the sights [Going during daylight is great, but I love going after dark, when every building is all lit up].
The 102nd Floor Observatory was reopened in November 2005, after being closed for half a dozen years. Tickets for this observatory are only sold upon arrival at the Empire State Building at a cost of $15.00 in addition to regular admission tickets.
I've never been interested in it; Why pay more money for the same views? Plus it is completely enclosed and much smaller than the observatory on the 86th floor.
* It may be closed on high-traffic days.
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What else is on offer?
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New York Skyride; Is a motion simulator attraction, located on the 2nd floor. I've never visited it, so can't confirm accessibility. I'd guess that it's not wheelchair accessible, based on experience with similar rides.
Sustainability exhibit; Is a new, multi-media, interactive exhibit. It only opened this year on 26th July, so I'm not sure if the exhibit is focused purely on ESB or on New York as a whole. It's also located on the 2nd floor.
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The Empire State Building is located at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street.
There are many restaurants and shops in the nearby vicinity; Including Macy*s [The 34th street store is the largest department store in the world - it covers a entire block and has nine floors].
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Observatory: Hours of operation
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Open 365 days a year.
8:00AM to 2:00AM. Last elevators go up at 1:15AM.
* I once went when it was wet, cloudy and windy to find out it was closed for safety reasons. So check weather reports before you go.
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Admission Prices at the Building:
ESB Express Pass $41.52 (+$3.48 Tx)
Adults (13-61) $18.45 (+$1.55 Tx)
Child (6-12) $12.92 (+$1.08 Tx)
Senior (62+) $16.61 (+$1.39 Tx)
ESB Audio Tour $7.38 (+$.62 Tx)
Military in Uniform Free
Toddlers (5 or younger) Free
Information on group rates can be obtained by faxing a request to the Group Sales Office at (212) 947-1360 or by visiting the Observatory ticket office on the 2nd floor of the building.
There was doubts we would go up the Empire State building on our recent trip to New York. Hubby is scared of heights. Although it wouldn't have been the same I was going to go up it on my own to have the experience on going up such an iconic building and also get some nice pictures. It was on Thursday the 13th of May at night that we made it up there.
This building is open from 8am-2am every day apart from Chistmas and New years Day. I had heard how long the queues were, and was advised to book a ticket, but we didn't as we weren't going to go it, so it was a wait in the queue for us.
Where we were staying in New York we had a view of the building from our window. We were staying on the 17th floor of an apartment block on West 42nd street, and the Empire State Buidling is situated way over on Fifth Avenue and 34th street. Instead of walking the distance as we had been walking all day we hopped in a Taxi down there. I asked what the huge queue of people were - not realising that we were kerbside to the huge building. The queue was massive and this was at 7pm at night. Nice bright night though and I thought visability would be good. Then again I didn't count on how many queues we would have to wait in to get to the top!
Little bit about the building. The construction was started in 1930, and finished the year later in 1931. At the time it was the tallest building in the world, but years later it has lost that claim. The only buildings taller in New York at the time was the Twin Towers, so this currently stands the tallest. The Chrysler Building is pretty much up there with this as well though. The Empire State Building is 102 floors high, but that is measured to the bottom of the needle point in the picture, as that is the highest floor you can get to. It is 1250 feet high. After the collapse of the Twin Towers the Radio masts from the have been put onto the Empire State Building. At night the 86 floor level and 102 floor level is lit up which you can see from the outside. The colours change, but mostly we seen green. There was purple and blue though but I think green suited it best anyway!
So you queue outside this impressive structure. Once into the grond level of the building you will see the marble and gold detailing inside. Nice cool building inside, no doubt because of the marble. You continue to queue at this part, and an attendent will let groups through to the elevators at a time.
The first queue you are waiting on is the security line. They don't mind you taking bags, rucksacks and that into the building, but they are scanned like at an airport. Then you have to walk through the body scanner as well. No need to take your shoes off like at the airport though. This queue was probably the longest one. Staff worked efficiently and quickly. The next queue was a long windy one to get your tickets. If you had already got your tickets online, then you got through the quick queue, which you could pretty much just walk though.
You could buy a pop up map which highlighted the buildings you were looking at, but we didn't bother about this $5 for it, which wasn't much. There was also an audio tour which we weren't fussy about either.
There is a few different tickets you could buy. The one that takes you to the 86th floor only was $20 each, if you wanted 86th floor and 102 then that ticket was $35. I would have thought everyone would have went to the highest floor but many people who were getting tickets with me only chose the 86th floor. You could also buy a ticket to a simulator screening which you sat in a little room and got panoramic and interactive views of the city, but that was a good bit dearer. You could add this onto the $20 and also get priority pass to get through the queues quicker, but the $20 turned into $46, and that wasn't including the $15 for the 102nd floor. We decided since the main queues were passed then we didn't mind about getting through them any quicker.
So up to the higher floors now. Another queue to wait in for the lift now. For some reason the lift takes you only up to the 80th floor. You can then walk up to the 86th floor, or wait on another lift to take you from 80th floor to 86th floor. We just walked up as there was a queue again for the lift.
Although after looking on our tickets it said if you had purchased to go t both floors you should go to the 102nd floor first for a look around and then back to the 86th floor, we done the 86th floor and then the 102nd floor.
The 86th floor was pretty busy. Probably because most people chose this one and not the higher up one. The walking area wasn't too narrow, and you got a good view of the city. It was nice and breezy as the floor was open with some wire over the open bits. Everyone was fighting to get the pictures, but everyone managed in the end. People would stand at the edge bit to take the pictures, but no one seemed just to keep standing there and people kept moving on. By the time we had got up to this level there was still a good enough light, but it was going a bit dusky. Not dark enough for the city lights to be on though, so we got some nice pictures and a bit filming done. Everything was pretty small apart from the height of the buildings which still looked big.
Now up to the 102nd floor, and another queue for a lift. This is where someone managed to spoil my visit in a way. There was 2 roped off lines and we didn't know what one to stand in as they weren't marked. We asked a worker who pointed us down to the line. We stood in the left one, but the man in front said that queue was for going to the lift which took you down the the ground floor and pointed us to go into the other line. We stepped over the velvet rope, as there was no one in the line, and a man came around the corner a minute later and ended up standing behind us. He then flagged a guard down and said we had queue jumped. I admitted we walked over the line, but there was no one coming behind in the queue, and the queue area was tiny, so I knew there wasn't anyone would be walking around a big long queue. Anyway the guard listened to this man, took us out the queue, and we ended up about 6 people back from where we were. Shame this could have spoiled everything. If I was going to queue jump I would have done it for more than 6 people!
Anyway a short wait this time to get up to the 102nd floor. When up on this level the area wasn't open and you were looking out at the city behind glass. can understand why this was enclosed, but it was a bit dark and quite warm. Pictures didn't really come out well due to the glare on the glass, but we were able to camcorder it better. Although a narrower area, less people up there when we were up to easier to move around. By the time we were up here it was pretty dark, so we couldn't make out that much but we saw the building with their lights on and the teeny, tiny cars with their lights on too.
After spending a bit time up here we made our way down, into the expensive gift shop and then out the building.
So was it worth it? yes it was. The price wasn't too bad considering it is a tourist thing in a tourist place. You were free to spend however long you wanted up it without anyone trying to move you on. There was plenty of staff around to help you and it was an experience to be in such an iconic high building.
No visit to New york would be the same without going up this.
We visited the Empire State building on our 3rd day in New York (a Monday morning), avoiding the weekend queues that we'd read so much about online beforehand.
We left our hotel room at around 8am and after a quick bagel we took the subway and then walked the remaining few blocks. Now, this might sound a little silly, but New York's biggest building is actually quite difficult to find from the ground - largely because of the other skyscrapers that are blocking your view. After asking a couple of people we eventually made our way in and were impressed with just how good the building looks from the inside.
The interior is very ornate and the doormen are immaculately dressed and friendly. A large image of the building is sculptured into the wall behind reception which looks fantastic too.
We arrived early expecting queues but were surprised to find that the place was very quiet. After going through security we made our way to the elevators through a maze of rooms, corridors and velvet ropes that are an indication of just how busy the building must get.
After the short elevator ride you're there - 86 storeys up with fantastic views of Manhattan and the downtown area. The only problem is that your view is impeded by the large metal grill that encases the observation deck. Alright the grill needs to be there, but it really makes the ESB seem the Top of the Rock's poor cousin - the views from the Rock are unobstructed and unrivalled, whereas the ESB doesn't quite match up.
Don't get me wrong, it's still an iconic building and a fabulous attraction, it just doesn't offer as good views as the Rock does.
If I were going back to New York, I'd go up both the Empire State and the Rock, but if we only had time to do one, I'd choose the Rock.
King Kong was very wise to climb up the outside of the Empire State Building. In doing so, he managed to avoid the long queues that he would have faced if he had chosen the indoors route. Yes sir, there are queues aplenty in store for anybody who wishes to make their way to the top. However, patience is duly rewarded and anybody who makes it will have a treat in store.
One of the main reasons for these long lines is security which is understandably strict and checks are thorough. As frustrating as that can be, this is unfortunately the way of the world now. After the security queue, you face the ticket queue. After that, it's the elevator queue. Then another elevator queue. You can see why patience is necessary.
For those who make it to the top (one visitor I spoke to said that had queued 2.5 hours), the observation deck awaits. This is a lot of smaller than I expected and can get pretty crowded. The views are worth it though, both at day and night.
I wouldn't recommend taking small children because I can't imagine them having the desire to stand around for hours in a hot building.
Prices: (At time of writing) Standard tickets cost $20. This will get you as far as the 86th floor.
To get to the 102nd floor will cost an extra $15 per person but it isn't really worth it.
An express pass which allows you to skip the queues costs an extra $45 per person.
The Empire State Building is probably the most iconic building in the world, made famous by King Kong grappling his way to the top in the 1930's. It dominates the New York skyline, visible from just about every part of the city, including Liberty Island, and even the runway at JFK, where we saw ESB and it's "little" sister the Chrysler Building framed against the sunset and a purple sky.
We went up the tower twice, once during the day and once at night, both times cost us $20 each. The queue was actually not that bad, from base to tip took about 45 minutes. As we went in the first time during daylight hours, the sun was shining, I was wearing a t-shirt, and all was right with the world. At the top we walked into the biggest thunderstorm New York had had in the last decade. After about twenty minutes atop this wonderful art deco structure we were called inside the glass observatory to avoid the lightning and the torrential rain! We were somewhat disappointed that our view was obscured by the weather, but we could still see the Flatiron building, the Chrysler Building and the GE building clearly. The GE building is perhaps best known under it's former name, the PAN AM building, where Christopher Reeve flew and caught a falling helicopter in the first Superman film.
There are coin operated telescopes around the 86th floor viewing deck, and the wire mesh enclosing you does not hamper the view at all. As someone terrified of heights, I felt very safe to go to the edge and look down, the people below scurrying like ants about their business. My legs did turn to jelly when my other half decided to hold the camera out for a downward shot though! Immediately below you is Macy's department store, taking up an entire city block, and from above you can really appreciate it's size.
On our second visit, we arrived in the dark at about 10.30ish, a good three and a half hours before closing. The queue was even shorter, despite the fact were buying an additional ticket, this time wanting to go up to the 102nd floor, located as far as I can tell in space. Within half an hour we had rocketed up in the lift to the 86th floor. The elevators are ridiculously fast, covering over 1000 feet in under a minute. You can taste your breakfast. The view at night was crystal clear and utterly breathtaking. The lights stretched out below were like stars fallen to Earth, and stretched like a blanket into the night. We could see Central Park, The Chrysler Building lit up with a gold luminescence, the neon glow of Time Square. After half an hour of photographs, videos and head shaking we ascended into the stratosphere, heading for the 102nd floor.
The lift heading this last stretch was old and slow in comparison to the rocket ship we had used earlier, clanking it's way skyward. The observation deck is all windows, in a circular room. The view is even more impressive up here, although the glass made photography difficult with the reflection from the flash. We were given about twenty minutes up here, which melt away far too quickly. It is the only time in New York that I have heard everyone go silent, the view was just awe inspiring.
On the way down you pass through the predictable gift shop, with New York and ESB themed merchandise, most of which is over priced tat. Each year they hold races up the stairs to the 86th floor, the record being around 13 minutes, but I was much more comfortable in the lift on the way down. it took me 45 seconds,and I didn't break a sweat. Even the entrance hall is something to admire, with brass on the walls, and marble pillars giving it an air of magnificence.
Another attraction not to be missed is the Sky Ride, located on the second floor. This virtual tour of New York's skyline fly's you through the famous architecture with a great voice over from "Scotty", engineer of the Star Trek Enterprise. The cost was about $15, and took about twenty interesting minutes. It was also fun to be thrown around in the bowels of the 15th tallest building in the world.
Overall this is one of America's premier attractions, and something not to be missed. This is more then just a skyscraper, more then just a feat of engineering. This is a testament to the human spirit, built in record time during the great depression of the 1930's, in the aftermath of the Wall Street crash. It was a symbol of hope to American's, and especially New Yorkers, and continues to be to this day.
One word .... WOW!
This is one tall building!!
I visited the Empire State Building (ESB) last month whilst on a five night stay in New York City. New York contains lots of tall buildings, almost everywhere in the city, I found myself looking up into the air at the height of the buildings, but none of them come close to the ESB.
A few interesting facts:
The Empire State building is located on 5th avenue and the entrances are on the 33rd and 34th street. The building stands at 1454 feet, and is therefore one of the tallest buildings in the world. It is a huge tourist attraction, and ques can often form in the morning, hours before the building is open to the public.
The construction of the building began in 1930, and, and it took just 7 months to complete the masonry, which is pretty amazing!
It cost $41 million in total, and weighs in at a massive 365,000 tons!
The ESB contains 103 floors, served by 73 elevators, and is staffed by approx 250 persons.
Prices, my opinion, views etc:
There are various options available for people visiting the ESB, on my visit, I paid $20 to go up the Observatory, which I would highly recomend. The observatory is located on the 88th floor, and is basically a large glass viewing area, which also has a surrounding outdoor area for those wanting to take in the raw, cold, breathtaking views of NYC.
I remember looking out, and it was amazing how small all the other 'tall buildings' looked from the observatory. For example I picked out my hotel ' The New Yorker' which seemed huge when I arrived at it, but from the observatory it looked like a tiny bugalow!! Personally, I felt the building swaying slightly as i stood up on the 88th floor looking down at the world, and felt what i can only describe as sporadic mild vertigo for the next 24 hours. The views are absolutely out of this world, and in my opinion are best viewed at night, to take in all the glitz and glamour of the lighting from around NYC.
current prices for the observatory are:
Adult (13-61) $20
Child (6-12) $14
Senior (62+) $18
Open daily 365 days a year.
8:00am to 2:00am
7 days a week.
Last elevators go up
There is also an option of paying a little more to go up the 102nd floor, as well as an option of paying approx $45 for the observatory viewing, and the skyride which is an independently owned and operated virtual tour simulator located on the 2nd floor of the Empire State Building. The NY SKYRIDE takes you on a simulated aerial NYC tour unlike any other.!
For more info visit:
Wow, writing these reviews has really made me want to get on a plane and get over to NYC!
Now there's loads to do in NYC but this one is on the must-do list (unless you're very afraid of heights) - the Empire State Building, ocne again the tallest in New York. This is an art deco building from the '30's, located on 34th street, it's also near Macy's and lots of other shops. It's 86 stories high and you can get an excellent view of the city and beyond, especially on a clear day. During peak times, the queue to get in can be pretty long, so leave yourself some time. You can go up there till pretty late at night - would recommend getting up there for sunset (a popular time, so leave early!) It was ten dollars last time I went up there and there's the usual souvenir shops.
The ESB lights up at night and may turn different colours for different occasions (such as red, white and blue on the anniversary of 9/11).
You have to go up here, it's part of evEry stay in NYC!
This year Mr Tart and myself found ourselves in New York (well, I mean we had planned to be there!). I'd been a couple of times before but Mr Tart had never been so I designated the Empire State Building (ESB) as a must see.
The ESB was built in 1930. At the time it was the world's tallest building and it is still up there in the tallest buildings list (currently number 15). The ESB is 1472 ft tall (if you include the antenna) and there are 102 floors.
Ok so you may have guessed that the ESB is in New York City! It is at 350 5th Avenue and the intersection with 34th Street. Trust me you can't miss it! The nearest subway station is 34th Street/Penn.
The ESB is one of America's most visited attractions so it's never going to be that cheap to visit. The visit costs $20 for adults and $14 for children (under 5s go free). If you are over 62 then it costs $18. If you want to do the audio tour as well then it costs an extra $8. There is also an option to buy the express pass which means that you skip the queues but this is a whopping $45! You can also pay an extra $15 to go up to the 102nd floor observation deck (the normal price gets you to the 86th), but you can only buy these once you are at the ESB.
The ESB is open every day (yes including Christmas Day). It is open from 8am to 2am every day.
We had booked our tickets on the ESB website. We (foolishly as it turned out) thought that this would save us lots of queuing time when we got there. Not to be. If you haven't bought the express pass, be prepared to queue.....a lot.....I mean really a lot!
We got to the ESB about 10am. The queue went all the way round to 33rd Street. Mr Tart made a lot of 'this better be worth it' noises. I told him firmly that it was worth it, I promise! After about half an hour we managed to get to the entrance. Yes, you did hear that right! Oh well, the time outside was useful for writing postcards....! Once inside the building you go up an escalator to join queue number two.
Yes, there is a theme developing which you may notice throughout this review. Queue number two is the one for security, which is fair enough. Then you get to join queue number three (you lucky things). However, we managed to avoid queue number three as it is the ticket queue and we'd booked online. We were slightly annoyed though as it looked like the world and his wife had booked online and only a handful were buying their tickets on the day! So, bring on queue number four! This one was to have your picture taken in front of a delightful screen, upon which they would later superimpose you onto the ESB. Oh the joy! OK, so I know I'm sounding like a very moaning Minnie but enough of the queues already! I think it would have been better if they had had a queue for those who wanted the picture and those who didn't. I would never buy those pictures anyway as they are such a rip off!
Ready for it - queue number six is up! This queue is the one to get into the lift to actually go up the tower. There are a few lifts so this queue wasn't too long. In all it took us about an hour and a half to get this far. Mr Tart was getting grouchy (luckily I brought food and water so that kept him calm!). In this queue there were at least some information boards to tell you a little bit more about the ESB, which kept us happy.
The lifts are scarily fast. The go up to the 86th floor in about one minute. I really had that feeling of my stomach going! Once you reach the 86th floor you head out onto the observation deck. Once outside, you really do forget all the queues, it is completely breathtaking. You can see all of New York laid out below you.
We spent about 30 minutes up the tower. It's a lot of queuing and quite a lot of money for a relatively short amount of time but it's still worth it. We really enjoyed spotting places that we'd been to and places that we'd seen on TV. We could see the Statue of Liberty, the Chrysler Building, Central Park and the Flat Iron building. You can spend quite a while looking at all the buildings and just watching the people and taxis going about their business below. The observation deck has a concrete rail which comes to chest height and then there are metal bars stopping anyone trying to climb over (it has happened in the past). The bars are criss-crossed and not too close together so it doesn't obscure the view at all. It does mean that there is the distinct possibility of dropping something through them so make sure that you use the strap on your camera to stop you losing it (and possibly doing some damage to the people below!).
Also on this level there are telescopes so that you can use to look at the sights, so if you want to use these remember to take some coins with you. There are also signs up telling you what you are looking at.
The observation deck was quite busy but it didn't take long to get to the edge so that we could do the photograph thing. People will generally move along fairly quickly.
Another thing to note is that it is a good idea to take a jacket if it's not the absolute height of summer. We were there in April and it was quite warm at the bottom but it was absolutely freezing at the top of the tower where the structure was blocking the sun and the wind can be pretty fierce as well. The observatory deck does have an indoor, glass fronted middle which is great if you're not so good with heights. This level is wheelchair accessible as well.
There is also a shop in the building, surprise, surprise. The shop sells a lot of ESB and general New York souvenirs. They were generally overpriced and we didn't stop to buy anything.
I think next time I would try to go up the ESB near to sunset so that I could see New York laid out at night time as all the lights are supposed to be amazing. The Building itself is lit up every night. On the ESB website there is a lighting schedule because they light it different colours on different days (e.g. red, white and blue on US holidays).
I don't really think you can go to New York City and not go up the Empire State. It really is the most amazing view. Ok so the queues can be unbelievable but it is worth it. Mr Tart was moaning when we were queuing but he was really glad that we'd made the effort to go up in the end. It's not cheap either, but again I do think it's worth the cost.
I think when most people travel to New York going to the Empire State Building is top of their things to do list....my husband and I were no different.
We went to New York for a four night, five day visit and it was just spectacular, the best city in the world. Five days is no where near long enough to see everything New York has to offer, I will definetely be going for a return visit. The Empire State Building is one of the first things we went to see.
The Empire State Building is the tallest building in New York and is on 350 Fifth Avenue, between 33rd/34th street. It was the tallest building in the world when it was first built and after 9/11 is now once again the tallest building in New York.
It opens 365 days a year, 8am to 12 midnight. April to December there are extending opening hours until 2am on thursday, friday and saturday. It suggests to avoid crowds visit before 11am. The last elevator goes up 30 minutes before it closes.
The building is 102 floors high and stands nearly a quarter of a mile above fifth avenue. The main observation deck is on the 86th floor where you can see breathtaking views across the rooftops, avenues and byways of New York.
I am unsure of the cost of tickets as we got free entry after buying a New York Pass, something I would recommend when visiting the city because you get free entry into lots of attractions.
You get to skip the ticket line and pick up your tickets from the Empire State News Store.
I think it costs about $20 entry, worth every penny.
Once inside and with your tickets you then take the elevator to the 86th, there are security checks along the way. Once on the observatory deck the views are just amazing, I did get slightly scared about how high up we were but I just loved the views and spent ages taking loads of photo's. It was fairly busy but if you're patient enough you will get to see everything
Once you've been on the deck there is a souveniour shop to buy lots of goodies on the way out. We also went on a New York Skyride which was in the Empire State Building, this was something else we did for free with our pass. It is basically a virtual tour stimulator of New York and I really enjoyed this too. It lasts about 30 minutes.
Being on top of the Empire State Building was one of the highlights of my trip, I thought it was fantastic. My only regret is that I didn't go at night as I think the views would have been better.
I think next time I might visit Top of the Rock and see how it compares.
Empire State Building
I think everyone has heard of the Empire State Building, it got its name because one of New York's nicknames is 'The Empire State', and this building is pretty much the monument of New York. For over forty years it was the tallest building in the world, until the North Tower of the Trade Centre was built. It lost its title for almost 30 years until the destruction of the world trade centre in 2001, and now remains as the tallest building in New York City however not in the world anymore, and definitely not in America as the Chicago Willis Tower over towers it.
Designed by Gregory Johnson back in 1930, the building was actually designed from the top down. The contractors of the building was originally the Starrett Brothers and Eken, and they began work on January 22nd 1930. It took 3,400 workers to complete the project and according to our guide on the tour bus 5 people died when making the building.
The building was actually constructed for a competition called the 'Worlds Tallest Building', the other two buildings fighting for the name were 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler Building, both of which I'm sure you've heard of.
It only took 410 days for the construction to be completed and was open in May of 1931, with Herbert Hoover turning on the lights. The Empire State Building however was erected during the Great Depression, and it wasn't until after World War 2 that it began to make a profit.
When on the bus I found out for the first time that in 1945, the Empire State Building was hit by an airplane, only around 15 people died, I actually can't remember if it was a terrorist attack or just a plane going wrong, but I found it quite weird that I had never heard of it before. The guide also told us that the Guiness World Record for longest survived elevator fall happened in this event, which was also quite amazing.
This is what we all flog to go and see when we go to New York, we all want the chance to go up to the Observation Deck and to see Manhattan from this great height. The 86th observation deck offers tourists and locals alike the chance to see Manhattan and the rest of New York from a 360 degree angle. You can go to the 102nd observation deck however I believe that is more money.
We went about 10-11 o'clock on a Wednesday morning and it was packed, royally packed. People were very polite though and took the pictures they wanted and then moved onto the next bit of the deck allowing you to go and have a look, well some people stood there for weeks taking pictures of their 20 children all doing at least 10 posses each with the Manhattan Skyline behind them.
When you get into the Empire State Building, you have to first go up an escalator before you get to the first queue line. This can change though as I have heard that the queue can go out onto the street in the most busy times of the days. The queue only took about 5/10 minutes at most to get through and then you reach the first batch of security. We didn't realise they'd be security and we were all dressed up to the nines in metal jewellery and belts and a lot of different things. We had to take all of this off before queuing up again to get your tickets.
You are able to skip this line if you've booked your tickets online, however you only miss one queue out of A LOT depending on the day, it may be worth it as this was the longest queue of the lot but it's not a problem to stand there for 10 minutes. Your tickets will then get checked and then you get put in another queue and this time it's for a picture.
We had our picture taken, but by the time we stood in front of the green screen, and gone to pose, she had already taken the picture and was screaming at us to move along. Lets just say they lost their $28 or whatever price it was they were asking for, for this one. At this point as well you could buy a small mobile phone like machine which tells you all about what you're looking at, we ignored this, but when we were up there, people were using them and we got a little jealous about that.
Then you get in the lift and then you're up on the observation deck, and the views are just amazing. I kinda wished we went at night as well, but with a $20 ticket, it is a little bit much, plus we didn't have the time.
The views were amazing, here is a brief outline of what you will see when you get up there:
North- I think the only ones worth looking for is the Chrysler Building and the Met Life Building. Nothing much else is on this side, however it was where I got my best picture of the whole holiday. One of which I'm thinking of sending into a travel photograph competition.
East- Here you'll be able to see Queens, other than that there's nothing else here really, it is a beautiful view though.
South- Here you'll be able to see the likes of Wall Street, and the statue of liberty. Even though it is one of the most beautiful parts of the city, for some reason these were the weakest pictures that we actually got in the end, there seemed to be some sort of fog over this part of the City.
West- The only real things here are the following: One Penn Plaza, World War 2 aircraft carrier and the ferry service between Manhattan and New Jersey. Gorgeous pictures but nothing much to talk about.
Make sure you take the time to get some amazing pictures, it is one of the best views in Manhattan and you really are able to see almost everything. It is only $20 to get in which in our money is about £12, which isn't too much when you consider what you are getting to see and what you'll be able to say you've done.
Empire State Building vs Top Of the Rock
These two are the two observation desks in Manhattan, I can't be sure if there is more or not, but these are the main two that I've heard about. They both ask for the same fee to go up to the observation deck at just $20 each, however the Empire State Building is the fourth tallest building within the States whereas the Top of the Rock is the 9th.
You would think then, you will get the best views from the Empire State, however in my opinion you would be wrong. Not only did we feel a lot safer at the Top of the Rock observatory deck, but because of the Empire State Building, we got some gorgeous pictures of that portion of Manhattan.
You do get better views of Central Park and Empire State Building from the Top of the Rock and overall it was the better of the two due to the fact we got a lovely picture taken of us, just like the 'Men on a Girder' poster that I adore, but we weren't rushed everywhere. It was about 6 when we went but I think it is a lot less of a tourist attraction compared to the ESB.
Overall, I recommend seeing both, however you will get better views from Top of the Rock
It is one of the most in demand tourist attractions in New York, which means it gets VERY busy, however that did not call for the way we were rushed everywhere due to the fact we were with a disabled person. Some of the lovely helpers there helped my nan around and allowed her to skip queues, but some, especially when we had the picture taken didn't seem to give two craps. They didn't let us get ready and pose for the photo, which meant it was their loss not ours, as if it was a good photo they would have probably got $25 from us as well.
It will probably be best for you to book your ticket, however we went about 10-11 and it was just normally busy, it didn't take us too long to queue and we weren't too bothered with them at all.
I think if you haven't seen it already, then it is a great opportunity to see it. If you can afford to go twice, then I would recommend doing so, once in the day and then at night, as night time is supposed to be just gorgeous. I think next time I'll go, I'll do it again, but this time at night.
Fantastic, well worth $20, and you do get some great views.
(C) Kirsty 2009
Hope you enjoyed it. I hope you can see why I couldn't include this in the original New York review.
I'm not sure if this is allowed, if It isn't I'll take it out, but if you haven't read my New York review, and want to know a little bit more about this wonderful state, then please have a look. It'll be much appreciated.
The Empire State Building, currently the tallest building in New York. It is located in the Midtown area of Manhattan, on 5ht Avenue and 34th Street. From afar, you can't really miss it, it is rather big at 102 stories high. Once you start to get closer though, it is pretty easy to miss it.
From looking at the bottom, it does not look as majestic as looking up the building. When we went, it was shrouded in scaffolding, which had various advertisements on it. Maybe once the scaffolding is gone, it will look as good as the top.
It is designed in the classic wedding cake style to enable more sun and light to get to street level. You enter the lobby and discover a very beautiful marble design of the building on the wall. You are then herded to the right, up an escalator and join the queue to get your tickets.
It was a pretty long queue, I think we went up around mid afternoon ish, so prob better to get there pretty early. At the kiosk, you have to buy the standard ticket, which takes you up to the 86th floor. You also get the choice to purchase a secondary ticket, that will take you up to the 102nd floor. It cost $35 for 2 tickets to the 86th floor, we didn't fancy the higher floor.
After getting your tickets, you are again herded through to the airport style security. Once through here, you are able to walk into a big room, which has the history of the building, how it was built and more modern history on it around the walls. You follow this room in a square and come to a bit where you can have your picture taken with a backdrop of the building under ocntruction, creating an illusion of your sitting on a girder rather high off the floor.
After going through all this, you then find your way to the elevators and again wait in the queue. The elevator ride is very quick considering the height you go to. This elevator does not take you the whole way up and there is another queue to get to the actual observation deck. This queue was exceptionally long and very slow moving. It was that slow moving, that after a while, a member of staff came along and gave us the option of working up several flights of stairs to get to the deck. We took this option and after a 5 minute walk, we were finally on the deck.
I don't recall the observation deck much, as to be honest, I wasn't looking at it. The view downtown is spectacular, seeing all the building's from above, as you are higher than everything else. You can see the Statue of Liberty, but it is a fair distance away, so looks a bit small.
You get some great views of both rivers either side of Manhattan, and into the outer boroughs and New Jersey. From the other side of the deck, your view is somewhat spoilt by the Rockefella Center. A very nice building, but it sits bang smack in the middle, blocking the view of Central Park and beyond.
You can get a guide, so you can see what the building's are you are looking at. To be honest though, if you either know New York or just like the building's for there look, then I wouldn't get the guide. We didn't and we were no worse off for it.
It is very crowded on the deck, which gets very annoying. As soon as you try to get a good picture, some ignorant person generally walks in the way. Not good if you are easily frustrated by this.
There is a gift shop, as in all the attractions in New York. It sells the exact same items you can get in any other gift shop and the local independant shops that are on pretty much every block.
When we went back to New York the second, we avoided the Empire State Building and just did Top of the Rock again, much better in my opinion. If it's your first time, then by all means do it for the experience, but I wouldn't rate it as amazing.
At the beginning of May me and my boyfriend went to New York City as a treat for his 30th birthday, one of the things we did whilst in The Big Apple was visit The Empire State Building.
Empire State is right in the heart of Manhattan at Fifth Avenue and 34th Street, about a ten minute walk from Times Square and pretty easy to find, you can't help but see it so use it as a marker when you get lost!
The building was built over 2 years starting in 1930 and consists of 102 floors with 2 observatories, the main one on the 86th floor and one also on the 102 floor which is indoor only (you wouldn't want to fall off here!).
When we went to the Empire State it was Saturday and very busy, the first thing I realised is they love queues here!
You can purchase your tickets before you arrive and this is one thing I would highly recommend you do to skip some of the queuing (although not all!).
We had got entry from a Bus Tour Pass we had brought so we managed to skip the initial queue for tickets which was moving very slowly and just head through security which was just like going through an airport, bags x-rayed and you as well.
We then had to join another queue, this did move quite quickly and we had a professional picture taken with a background of The Empire State behind us but unfortunately a lady decided to queue jump at this point so the photographer ran after her, we got his assistant and my boyfriend was too busy staring at the commotion so we didn't buy it, I was a bit annoyed she didn't tell him to look back at the camera!
After this we joined another queue which is for the lift to the 86th floor, after about 15 minutes queuing we were told we could walk the 6 floors instead if we wanted and so we did as was fed up standing around but oh my god I was so out of breathe by the time I got there it took me five minutes to breathe normally again, please note I am a healthy 24 year old non smoker so if you have health issues really do not do this!
Once we got up to the 86th floor we entered the observatory and it was very busy up there.
The first thing that hit me was the views were not as good as ones from Top Of The Rock, I had been warned about this though.
Also because it was so busy it was hard to take great pictures, the best views we got from here were of the Hudson River, we did have a map which we purchased for $3 which told you the views from North, West, East and South which we did need to clarify things.
After about 15 minutes we had decided we had seen enough, we hadn't brought the tickets to the 102nd floor as this was more expensive and we didn't want to queue for tickets so we headed back down and into the gift shop.
The Empire State building has a very extensive gift shop with a lot of choice including memorabilia with King Kong on it and general New York Souvenirs, we got a bit carried away and spent $80 in there but I may never go again so didn't mind really.
After the gift shop we exited the building and made our way back into Times Square.
If your going to New York City you have to go here and it is a good thing to do but I recommend trying to go on a week day if you can, prebuying your tickets and if you want good pictures especially of the beautiful Central Park then also visit Top Of The Rock, I liked the Empire State Building but much preferred Top Of The Rock.
Adult tickets cost $20, Children $15 and Under 5s are Free.
Visiting New york for the first time you have to visit the Empire state building just to say youve done it but was it worth it?
Well in some ways yes, the building is full of history and the views are great - although this was helped with sunny weather. You have the opotion to get a headphone set which I would say is worth it as it gives you the history of the building whilst you work your way to the observation deck. Then on the observation deck it highlights different buildings andexplains a little history.
Unfortunately its not all good. Yes picking the time to go is important get there at opening time and you will be glad you did. It gets very busy and cues start outside the building then you go through a barrier and cue again for an elevator, then you move into a room and a huge snaked queue before you hit the security checks - you can be waiting for several hours to get to the observation deck if your unlucky.
Thankfully I had heard of the New York city pass which gets you entry into lots of places one of which is the Empire state building and as its an express pass you skip a lot of the queue, but in some ways if doesnt help as when you hit the observation deck you are packed in like sardines, and everyone shuffles about to get to the view points which for safety have iron bars across. Inside on the observation deck level is the gift shop with the usual stuff.
Im glad I didnt have to queue up for the pleasure, and recommend you get there very early or very late (for a night view). Opens at 8am and last lift is 1.15am (closes at 2am)
Its around $18-20 for a normal ticket and about $40 for an express ticket - whilst a lot more expensive if you arive late you will almost certainly be waiting 2+ hrs to get to the top. Alternatively if your seeing the sights get a city pass which is around $120 for a 3 day pass and spend 3 days seeing all the sights. Obviously when I visited it was around $2 to the £1 not so favourable at the moment with the low dollar.
The Empire State Building is a 102-story Art Deco skyscraper in New York City. 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.