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Aim, Focus, Shoot - The HyPyC blog
The Empire State Building New York

Travelling Tale: Visiting the Empire State Building in New York

As I have stated before, the Empire State Building is one of those iconic buildings that I automatically associate with New York – It has a unique art deco design, stands proud on it's own amid the multitude of skyscrapers, and held the record for the worlds tallest building from 1931 to 1970 until surpassed by the original world trade centre. This building was one of the original skyscrapers together with the Chrysler building that came to define the beautiful, towering New York skyline.

We got a really good view and photos of the Empire State Building from the GE building in the Rockefeller complex; however for a close-up view you can buy tickets to go to the 86th and 102nd floors of the building itself which are both observation decks. Tickets can be bought online or from the building itself for around £25 – I would recommend buying the tickets online beforehand to avoid a lengthy wait in the ticket lines.

View from the 86th floor of Manhattan Island and New York

Getting there

The Empire state building is located in Midtown Manhattan on West 33rd & 34th Street between 5th and 6th avenues – the main entrance is on West 34th Street. Depending on your hotel location, I would advise walking to the Empire State – we walked from our hotel that was a couple of blocks above Times Square and it didn't take long, plus there are some sights on the way such as Bryant Park and the New York Public Library. If you are further away, the closest subway station is 33rd street which is nearly underneath the building itself. Be aware that there will most likely be large queues for both tickets, and to go up the lifts to the 86th floor – It is such an iconic and popular building that it attracts a huge amount of visitors per day.

Decorative wall in the entrance hall A Pidgeon poses for me on the 86th floor I wasn't actually looking through the binoculars, just posing!

Once inside, the lifts (elevators for you yanks :p) and interior are really decadent so make sure you have a good look and take some photos. There is also various displays with photos showing the history of the building - I particularly liked the photos taken of the workers standing without supports or restraints at the top of the building during its construction - Inspiring stuff! Once you have been up the lifts and through the queues you will be ready to go outside onto the observation area of the 86th floor and marvel at the unrivalled views of New York and Manhattan Island.

The dominating outline of the Empire State building

The 86th Floor

The 86th floor is the main observation area that consists of an outdoors platform that spans the four sides of the building, and is covered by steel meshing; At various intervals around the area there are some cool old style observation telescopes - I didn't use one, but took some arty photos instead! This area will be quite crowded throughout the day and you may have to wait for someone to move to get a space at the walls to properly enjoy the views.

Don't let impatient people push you around or dictate how long you stay there - You have paid for your ticket so spend as long as you want admiring the breathtaking cityscape beneath you. The views are simply spectacular and you can really see the chaotic nature of New York; For me it felt as if the buildings were all vying for attention, pushing past one another to reach the skies, like plants stretching for sunlight. It was also interesting to see the new World Trade Centre under construction - I would like to go again someday to see it completed.

The Empire State building really does dominate it's immediate surroundings

102nd Floor

I must admit I wasn't as impressed with the 102nd floor - It was cool to go right to the top of the Empire State building, I really did feel so high up and the streets of New York below looked tiny. However it was pretty much the same view from the 86th floor and it was not an open observation deck, so any photos had the glass reflection in. For anyone wondering weather to pay extra for the 102nd floor I would suggest that it isn't necessary - If you just want brilliant views of New York then the 86th floor provides the better opportunities.

Showing the difference between the two observation floors
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