Your Destination Guide to New York City

Destination Guide NYC - Your Destination Guide to New York, NY

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Empire State Building

Empire State Building
Empire State Building

© Matt G. Borowick

If you've ever been to New York City, you've caught a glimpse of it. If you've been to New Jersey or Connecticut, you may have even seen it. Standing at 1,454 feet, the Empire State Building has been a highlight of the NYC skyline — and a major tourist attraction — since 1931. During its construction, the building's financier, John Jakob Raskob, was in competition with Walter Chrysler to see who could build the tallest building. The race appeared to be a tight one, but only for a short period of time; the Empire State building was completed in a remarkable 410 days. Raskob won out and the building held the title of the world's tallest for more than 40 years. Currently, it is still among the tallest buildings in the world.

From the 86th Floor Observatory, visitors can get a 360 degree view of the city and, when the air is clear, can see a few neighboring boroughs and states. High-speed elevators whisk visitors over 1000 feet in the air to the Observatory, where they can take in the skyline while wandering through both the glass-enclosed area and the outdoor promenades on each side of the building. Visitors can pay to use the building's high-powered binoculars for an even better view, or rent headphones for an audio tour that identifies the buildings in the skyline. An extra $15 ticket is required to visit the smaller, enclosed 102nd Floor Observatory, which is on the actual top floor. On other floors, the steel building is home to many offices, including several international tourist boards.

One of the structure's notable features is its lights. Special occasions are celebrated by a changing schedule of different colored lights shining from the 72nd floor to the base of the TV antenna. On the Fourth of July, for example, red, white and blue lights flood the tip of the building with patriotic glory. The lighting schedule can be viewed on the Empire State Building official website, listed below.

Attraction Information

  • Hours:
  • Observatory: 8am to 2am 365 days a year, last elevators go up at 1:15am
  • Admission:
  • Adult Observatory (13-61) $18.45
  • Child Observatory (6-12): $12.92
  • Senior Observatory (62+): $16.61
  • Express Pass Tickets: All Ages: $41.52, Audio Tour: $7.38
  • Observatory and Skyride Combo Package: Adult $45.45, Child $20.92, Senior $37.61
  • Subway Stop:
  • 1, 2, 3, A, C, E trains to 34th Street/Penn Station
  • B, D, F, N, Q, R trains to 34th Street/Avenue of the Americas
  • Contact:
  • Location: 350 Fifth Avenue, between 33rd and 34th Street
  • Phone: 212-736-3100
  • Website:
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