Empire State Building

Empire State Building

One of the most recognizable buildings in New York, The Empire State Building skyscraper embodies the strength of American economy and the spirit of the American nation. The tower got its name from colloquial designation of the State of New York, which is referred to as the Empire State. For several decades the building was the highest in New York. Annually thousands of tourists visit the famous skyscraper. In just a minute the high-speed elevator will lift you up to the viewing point of the 86th floor and see the stunning panoramic view over New York with its streets, squares, parks, bridges and even ships in the sea. At the 102nd floor there is a top viewing point where you can get for a fee. It is totally covered and there is far less space there, however from this place you will be able to see the panorama of not just a city, but five states (in practice you need really good luck with the weather and visibility, at the height of 102 floor everything is too tiny, it’s really crowded inside the top deck and photos are poor through glass)! The lobby of the tower is 3-story high and is decorated with eight panels showing the original seven wonders of the world with the eight one being of course the Empire State Building. The original idea was that the spire part of the building would be used a docking station for the airships that in the 1930s were a popular means of transport. The registration of the passengers had to take place on the 86th floor and the docking 102nd floor was meant to be the place with the staircase to the airships. According to the early plans, a special elevator had to operate between the floors. However, at the end of the day not a single airship docked to the roof of the tower due to the danger and difficulties that strong air currents posed for docking and undocking. Soon enough the airships were abandoned as a means of transport.

The creators of that skyscraper built in 1931 designed it in Art Deco architectural style with its façade elaborated in classical style and the only decorations being the vertical stainless steel stripes. The construction of the Empire State Building was part of the so-called high-rise race in New York, which is why the skyscraper was ready in the record-setting period of 410 days (on average it grew 4,5 floors taller each week and sometimes 14 floors appeared in 10 days). By the time it was finished the height of the building was 381 meters (later a radio and television tower was installed on its roof thus making it 443-meters-high). The official inauguration took place on May 1, 1931 when United States President Herbert Hoover (he was located in Washington DC) remotely turned on the lighting of then the tallest building in the world. The skyscraper lost that prestigious title already in 1970 after the northern tower of the World Trade Center was erected. On September 11, 2001 both towers of the WTC were destroyed in terror attacks. The Empire State again became the tallest building in New York until in 2012 the new One World Trade Center, surpassed it with its 541 meters.

Another curious and iconic thing about the tower is its unique system of lighting. The tradition of lighting the Empire State Building with different colors in honor of various events, important dates and holidays is long standing. Event each day of the week has its own color. On the US Independence Day the skyscraper is turned blue red and white, on Saint Patrick's Day it is green, and when New York hosts games by its sports teams, then the lighting represents the signature colors of those teams. The second floor of the building is home to the New York Skyride attraction, which is a simulator of a 25-minute sky ride above the city. Also there is an annual staircase running competition inside the skyscraper. The athletes have to conquer the distance of 1,576 steps and reach the 86th floor.

Did you know that the Empire State Building is featured in almost a 100 movies? The cinematographic fame came to the skyscraper after the iconic 1933 black-and-white King Kong movie where the final battle took place on top of the building. In Peter Jackson's 2005 remake the final scene was shot at the same place. The tickets for building tours can be purchased online or only inside the tower. Long lines are quite usual, so it might be better to buy tickets online beforehand. Put on some warm clothes and don't forget to take glasses, at such heights it will be most probably very windy and cool.

If you can afford visiting only one observation deck in NY, the okoGuide photographer’s choice is Rockefeller Center’s Top of the Rock in daytime – with the awesome view at Central Park, a shorter queue, not crowded airy deck; monopods are allowed and photos can be taken not through the glass. Or take a helicopter tour, it’s especially unforgettable at sunset.

Address: 350 5th Ave
Opening hours: daily 8 am – 8 pm, there are different options of tickets on the website, choose your variant; a queue can be up to 2 hours, premium experience (skip the line option) is more expensive, selfie sticks are not allowed on the deck; after the sunset is too dark for photos and still loads of people, daily 100 people can enjoy the sunrise with a breakfast option; there are 2 restaurants in the building.
How to reach: subway 34th St-Herald Square (B, D, F, M).