The Empire State Building is the tallest and most famous skyscraper in New York. More than 120 million visitors, including the rock group Kiss and Queen Elizabeth II, have gazed down on the city from the Observatory since it opened in 1931. Planned in the prosperous 1920s by the architectural firm of Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon, this Art Deco classic was completed during the Depression and was largely vacant for several years, giving rise to the nickname “Empty State Building.” It has been featured in countless movies; when King Kong returned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the classic film in 1983, fans the world over cheered the triumphant ascent by a huge inflatable ape.

  • 350 5th Ave, at 34th St

  • www.esbnyc.com

  • Open 8am–2am daily (last ticket sold at 1:15am)

  • Be prepared for security screening; no bags larger than carry-on size allowed

Building the Empire State

The Empire State Building was designed by William F. Lamb following a brief to “make it big.” It took only 410 days to build this 102-story, 365,000-ton limestone and granite skyscraper, with an average of four and a half stories added every week. However, in one outstanding ten-day period, the 3,500-strong construction team completed no fewer than ten stories. Due to the building’s relatively shallow foundations, 60,000 tons of steel beams were used to support the tower.

View of the Empire State Building

There are a number of restaurants and shops on the ground level.

Visit at the end of the day to watch the city lights go on.

Top 10 Features
  1. The Building

    A mooring mast for air-ships, now the base of a TV tower, was built to ensure the 102-story, 1,454-ft (443-m), building would be taller than the Chrysler Building.

  2. Lobby Mural

    The main lobby houses a 36-ft (11-m) Art Deco relief that showcases the Empire State Building image in steel, aluminium and gold leaf with dramatic impact.

  3. 102nd Floor Observatory

    Visibility on a clear day from the 102nd floor deck is up to 80 miles (130 km). Tickets are sold only upon arrival at the Visitors’ Center on the second floor ($15 extra).

  4. 86th Floor Observatory

    Breathtaking views from the 86th floor’s glass-enclosed pavilion 1,050 ft (320 m) above the city attract more than 3.5 million visitors each year.

  5. Spire

    The spire is lit to honor holidays, seasons, and the many ethnic groups of New York: red, white, and blue for national holidays; green for St. Patrick’s Day; blue and white for Chanukah.

  6. Elevators

    Visitors can ride to the 86th floor in 45 seconds – 1,400 ft (427 m) per minute – in one of 73 Art Deco elevators. The last elevator leaves at 1:35am.

  7. Fifth Avenue Gallery Windows

    Five display windows in the lofty marble-clad Fifth Avenue lobby exhibit art and memorabilia from New York City’s many museums, galleries, and artists. The exhibits are changed on a regular basis.

  8. Valentine’s Day

    Weddings have been an Empire State Building tradition since 1994. Every year, 14 lucky, romantic couples are specially selected to get married on the only day that the ceremony is conducted here.

  9. New York Skyride

    A virtual reality, big-screen simulation of a helicopter ride takes viewers over, under, and through some of the city’s best-known landmarks.

  10. Empire State Run-up

    Each February, following a tradition dating to 1978, 150 runners race up the 1,576 steps from the lobby to the 86th floor. The record is 9 minutes, 33 seconds.

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