King of New York

You can live in New York all your life, but until you see it from the top of the Empire State Building, you haven’t seen the city.

Located at 350 Fifth Avenue and 34th Street in midtown Manhattan, New York City’s most famous fixture stands tall (103 floors-1,454 feet). Having held the record as the world’s tallest skyscraper for 40 years, the symbol of the city was constructed in only two years, from 1930 to 1931.

Over 3.8 million people visit its observatories each year, totaling over 120 million visitors since its opening in 1931. The process of making it to the observatory decks can be a long one (anywhere between 1-2 hours), but by purchasing tickets at the Empire State Building’s official website (, that wait can be cut in half. You’ll pay an extra $2, but this will save you about an hour’s wait.

Once entering the historic building, the first checkpoint is going through security. The line goes quickly and should take about 15 minutes, even on a crowded day. After the security check, if you have already purchased your tickets online (which is a good idea), you can head straight to the elevators. Ticket lines get very long and waiting on them for an hour is not uncommon.

After about a half hour of waiting in line, you’ll be brought up to the 86th floor in less than one minute on a high-speed express elevator. This floor’s observatory offers panoramic views from within a temperature controlled glass enclosed area. The views are nice here, but this floor is just another checkpoint to be reached before heading all of the way up to the 102nd floor.

Day or night, the 102nd floor observatory visitors are thrilled by breathtaking scenes of New York’s dynamic skyline, as well as several neighboring states. The Chrysler Building looks like it is close enough to touch and Central Park, Rockefeller Center, Lower Manhattan and Madison Square Garden can all be seen by the naked eye.

If you look up, the Empire State Building’s 200-foot long antenna is right in front of you. You’ll be blown away by its size. On a clear day, visitors can see the surrounding countryside for distances up to 80 miles, looking into the neighboring states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. High-powered binoculars are available on the promenades for the convenience of visitors at a minimal cost.

The Empire State Building also features the New York Skyride. You’ll see, feel and hear all of New York City’s spectacular sights without ever leaving your seat. Using the same simulator hardware that trains 747 pilots, the New York Skyride is a fantastic combination of high-tech, big-screen theater and state-of-the-art motion seating. It is virtually a high-flying, high-speed moving picture experience that you won’t forget.

No matter how busy you are, it shouldn’t be too hard to fit a trip to the Empire State Building in your plans. Even if you get caught waiting on long lines, you will forget all about it once you reach the 102nd floor. Seeing Manhattan from that high up is incredible and will be an experience that will stay with you for a lifetime.