A visit to NYC is incomplete without gorging in the unobstructed panoramic views of the city from the iconic Empire State Building. The sprawling views of Manhattan and the ocean are a feast for the eye and the open-air 86th-floor observatory is the perfect place for you to enjoy it. Soaring 1,454 feet (including antenna) above midtown Manhattan, the Empire State Building is the world's most famous skyscraper. Being one of the top tourist attractions in the country, it is no wonder that America voted for it as America's favorite building (as per a poll conducted by the American Institute of Architects). On a clear day, you can see up to five states from the Observation Decks - New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.
The Empire State Building in a Nutshell
The Empire State Building is an Art Deco skyscraper on situated in the heart of Midtown Manhattan in New York City. Designed by the architectural firm Shreve, Lamb & Harmon, the Empire State Building has a roof height of 1,250 feet (380 m), and stands a total of 1,454 feet (443.2 m) tall with the antenna included. The open-air 86th-floor observatory is the most popular outdoor observation deck of the Empire State Building. The 102nd-floor, on the other hand, is a smaller indoor observation deck that places you at the highest vantage point of the Empire State building.
Must-See Attractions from the Empire State Building
8:00 AM to 2:00 AM every day.
Last admission at 1:15 AM.
350 5th Ave, New York, NY 10118, USA
Empire State Building Tickets
Skip the Line: Empire State Building Observatory ✪
Skip the Line: Empire State Building Observatory
The Empire State Building Observatory: AM/PM Experience ✪
Visit ESB twice in a day, once under the sun then under the sparkling lights.
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How To Save Time & Skip the Line at the Empire State Building
Being one of the most visited buildings in New York City, The Empire State Building draws a large crowd through the year. This results in a wait time of about 45 minutes to 1 hour on an average. Weekends are known to be the busiest period, with waiting times that go up more than an hour, especially weekends during summer.
The best way to escape the tourist hordes is to reach the building early in the morning right after it opens at 8:00 AM, preferably on a weekday; though early weekends are relatively less crowded as well. If you wish to visit the Empire State at night, then visiting after 11:00 PM should also see you in within a few minutes.
Another option is to purchase Skip The Line Tickets in advance and reach there during your desired slot which allows you to glide cross the ticket line and proceed for security check. If you cannot schedule your visit before 9:00 AM or post 11:00 PM, these skip the line tickets are your best bet.
Empire State Building Tickets
Empire State Building History
During the 1920's New York's economy was booming like never before and builders had just 1 aim - erect the world's largest skyscraper in their city. Their aim was to beat the 40 Wall Street’s Bank of Manhattan building and the Chrysler Building and upon completion, the Empire State Building surpassed its competitors, raising the New York skyline to the highest of heights.
The Empire State Building was designed by William Frederick Lamb who worked at the architectural firm Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon.The design is said to be fairly simple yet exuding grandeur, defined by the budget, time limit and New York City's 1916 zoning law. This minimalist limestone facade building has a classical composition of a five story base, a large tower with setbacks and a monumental spire. It has a total of 102 floors and rises to a height of 1,250 feet and remained the highest structure in the world for 40 years, until 1954. The construction took 2 years, from 1929 and 1931 costing a total of $40,948,900 and once completed, it was was dubbed 'the 8th world wonder'.
The Empire State Building was one of the last skyscrapers completed in New York before the Great Depression hit. The Great Depression consequently caused a collapse in the demand for office space which lead to the ESB being nicknamed the 'Empty State Building'. It took until the 1950s for the market to full recover and for the Empire State Building to became the most profitable building in New York City.
Your Empire State Building Experience
The Empire State Building experience is elaborate in all senses: the time taken, duration of visit and the views. Here are the best parts of the ESB you must watch out for.
This part of the ESB was restored in 2009 with Art Deco elements flaunting ceiling murals in 24-karat gold and aluminum leaf which pay homage to the mechanical age, planets and stars. . You will find one of the most famous images in New York City, a depiction of the ESB with beams of light radiating from the mast hung on this Fifth Avenue lobby.This lobby is one of the few interiors in New York to be gifted the stature of a historic landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Dare to Dream Exhibit
This particular exhibit captures the planning and construction phase of the Empire State Building. It chronicles the ESB's history, engineering, construction and pays a tribute to the commendable work of the architects and laborers who helped erect the ESB. While walking around this exhibit, you’ll find original documents including period photographs, architectural drawings, construction jot downs, and other bookkeeping documents.
This exhibit showcases the state of the art technology started by the the Empire State Building in 2009 which aims to reduce total energy usage by more than 38 percent energy costs by $4.4 million annually, and carbon emissions by 105,000 metric tons over the next 15 years. While walking around this exhibit, one can understand the processes and working of the technology in a fun and interactive manner, thus appealing to those of all ages.
Main Deck - 86th Floor
This is the highest open-air observatory in all of New York and offers 360 degree unobstructed views of the Manhattan skyline. It has also served as the setting for tens of thousand movies and television scenes making this one of the most popular parts of the Empire State Building. This Main Deck goes all around the ESB's spire and offers splendid views of the Central Park, Hudson River, the Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square, Statue of Liberty, and plenty more.
Top Deck - 102nd Floor
16 floors above the Main Deck lies the Top Deck which offers an even better, but enclosed unlike the open air main deck. From here, one can get an aerial view of the Central Park, the laced grid of New York streets and on a clear day you can see beyond the skyscrapers up to 80 miles away. Reaching the Top Deck is equally exciting as one has to ride up on a manually operated Otis elevator which allows you to witness the altitude rise as you ascend.
Best time to visit the Empire State Building
The views from the top of the Empire State Building are breathtaking no matter the time of day. You can't go wrong with the experience no matter when you visit. Whether you're looking over a picturesque sunset or standing in the freezing cold as snow descends onto the city, the Manhattan skyline from the 86th floor observatory is always stunning.
If you're visiting with family
Make your way to the Empire State early in the day to beat the crowd and enjoy more room up top. Anytime between 8:00 AM and 11:00 AM is said to be more peaceful than the rest of the day. If you're traveling with kids or senior citizens, standing in all 3 lines can get hectic, hence these hours are recommended.
If you're visiting with your partner
If you're looking for some intimate time over the Manhattan skyline, visiting the Empire State Building post 11:00 PM is conducive. By this time the crowds would have dwindled and the setting becomes cosier. The views of Manhattan at night, shining like a jewel will rest assured spark romance in the air.
If you're looking to get the best photographs
Without doubt, sunset is when shutterbugs should be on the 86th floor. The amber hues that sweep the sky as the sun sets behind the New York skyline is dream come true for photographers. Tripods are not allowed atop, so photographers are required to make necessary arrangements to get their best clicks.
If you want to beat the crowd
The best time to visit the Empire State Building if you wish to beat the crowd is early in the day from 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM and anytime after 10:00 PM.
Know Before You Visit the Empire State Building
While visiting the Empire State Building is a definite on your New York checklist, here are a few things you should know before you buy tickets.
- There are 3 queues that one has to pass before reaching the top : Ticket line, Security line, and Elevator line. While the last two lines are mandatory, you have the option to bypass the ticket line if you purchase the Skip The Line Tickets to the Empire State Building.
- You must keep a minimum of 2 hours aside for your Empire State Building visit. This is because the security and elevator lines can take a while, hence keeping aside a buffer of 1 hour is recommended.
- If you purchase tickets online, you get the benefit of a year's validity which allows you to visit the Empire State Building Observatory anything time within a year from the date of purchase.
- Before setting out to visit the Empire State Building, download the 'Empire State Building Experience' App on your phone. This app serves as an audio guide in 8 languages and allows you to understand the views better.
- Tickets to the 102nd Floor Observatory is not available online. However, you can upgrade to these tickets at the Observatory ticket office (2nd floor) or 86th floor kiosk with your purchased tickets.
- The Empire State Building is wheelchair-accessible and children under the age of 6 do not require a ticket.
- Glass and bottles are not permitted inside the Empire State Building. While sameras and camcorders are permitted, tripods are not due to security purposes. There is no coat/luggage check in at the Empire State Building, you will have to carry all that you have brought with you throughout your visit.
Supercharge your experience with these tips
- If possible, visit the Empire State Building on a weekday. It’s far less crowded than the weekends!
- Have a city map handy and carry it with you to better realize the city from up above.
- Avoid carrying bulky bags since it might be difficult lugging around with the bags while standing in the queue.
- Check the weather forecast for the desired day before booking your tickets. The view is best on a clear dry day. If it's rainy, foggy or cloudy, the views are compromised and you won't be able to experience the Empire State Building in its true glory.
- Carry a coat or a jacket along with you since it can get quite chilly in the 86th-floor observatory.
- The entrance for those with disabilities is on 34th Street, between Bank of America and Starbucks. Note that this entrance is open only from Monday through Friday until 6:00 PM
- If you intend to watch the Tower Lights, check the official website for the timings so that you can catch the shimmering lights.
- Make sure to use the restrooms on the second floor before getting in line for the elevators. There are no restrooms after this point till you make your way down.