When it comes to what to see and do in New York City, the sheer number of options can seem a little overwhelming. However, there is one thing that should be at the top of every travel list, and that is a visit to the top of the iconic Empire State Building.
It is simply one of the most famous buildings in the entire world and it has come to symbolize the bold and majestic grandeur of the Big Apple itself. The Empire State Building has been featured in countless movies, television shows and books set in New York, from King Kong to An Affair to Remember to Doctor Who to Michael Chabon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.
The Great Building
The Empire State Building has been named one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. It stands 103 stories high right on 5th Avenue in the heart of Midtown Manhattan. It was the tallest building in the world for almost 40 years, until the completion of New York’s World Trade Center in 1970. Aside from its height, it is also famous for its classic Art Deco architecture, which can be seen everywhere from the spectacular cathedral-like three story lobby, to the sleek railings and design of the observation deck.
The Empire State Building also acts as symbol to mark holidays and world events. Floodlights were added to the top of the building in the 1960s, and now the building lights up in different colours depending in the occasion. The building is lit up red, white and blue for the 4th of July, green for St. Patrick’s Day and Christmas, and in 1998, it was bathed in a blue light when Frank Sinatra (Old Blue Eyes) passed away.
Tips for the Perfect Visit
Since the Empire State building is at the top of everyone’s must-see list, expect long lines. Tickets do offer an express option which will let you skip the lines, but you can expect to line up long before you get to the ticket counter. Instead, it’s cheaper and more efficient to plan your visit for a time when lines might be a little less long.
The best times to visit are first thing in the morning, around 3 p.m., or at night, when the lines are shortest. Don’t let bad weather keep you away. A little rain or snow does nothing to dampen the incredible view, and it does a lot to speed up your trip to the top. The most romantic time to visit is at night, when the city that never sleeps is sparkling at your feet.
You can see the entire city of New York from the top of the Empire State Building, plus a little more. From the south Observation Deck, and you look out towards Lower Manhattan, the Lower Bay and Staten Island. You can see the famous Flatiron Building below, out towards the resurrected tower at One World Trade Centre, and past to Statue of Liberty.
From the North Observation deck, Broadway winds past right below your feet, leading to the Columbus Circle and the vast green oasis of Central Park, which sits nestled between the Upper East and West with historic Harlem capping it off on the north.
The best view is from the northeast corner, where you look out towards Brooklyn and the sparkling East River at the other of New York’s most iconic Art Deco gems; the shining and breathtaking crown and gargoyles on the Chrysler Building, which can only be properly appreciated at this altitude.
Click to visit Empire State Building official website.