Fodor's Expert Review Empire State Building

Murray Hill Notable Building Fodor's Choice
landmark-sights

With an iconic silhouette recognizable virtually worldwide, the Empire State Building is an art deco monument to progress, a symbol of NYC, and a star in many romantic scenes—on- and off-screen. Built in 1931 at the peak of the skyscraper craze, this 103-story limestone giant opened after 13 months of construction. The framework rose at a rate of 4½ stories per week, making the Empire State Building the fastest-rising skyscraper ever built.

Enter the visitor experience in the building's designated Observatory lobby—a two-story hall off 34th Street—and exit through the building's iconic 5th Avenue lobby. Purchase or retrieve prepurchased timed tickets at kiosks, then head to the 10,000-square-foot Second Floor Galleries to learn all about the skyscraper—from its engineering to its role in modern culture (including a fun photo op with King Kong himself). There are interactive experiences, along with marvelous art deco design details throughout.

Rise from Floor 2... READ MORE

With an iconic silhouette recognizable virtually worldwide, the Empire State Building is an art deco monument to progress, a symbol of NYC, and a star in many romantic scenes—on- and off-screen. Built in 1931 at the peak of the skyscraper craze, this 103-story limestone giant opened after 13 months of construction. The framework rose at a rate of 4½ stories per week, making the Empire State Building the fastest-rising skyscraper ever built.

Enter the visitor experience in the building's designated Observatory lobby—a two-story hall off 34th Street—and exit through the building's iconic 5th Avenue lobby. Purchase or retrieve prepurchased timed tickets at kiosks, then head to the 10,000-square-foot Second Floor Galleries to learn all about the skyscraper—from its engineering to its role in modern culture (including a fun photo op with King Kong himself). There are interactive experiences, along with marvelous art deco design details throughout.

Rise from Floor 2 to reach Floor 80's enclosed observatory, then head to the 86th-floor observatory (1,050 feet high) to find another enclosed area and the spectacular wraparound outdoor deck. The views from the compact 102nd-floor observatory are better still, though it comes with an extra price tag. A new Sunrise@ESB experience ($135) provides preopening access to the 86th floor observation deck on Saturday morning to watch the sunrise with pastries and a custom Starbucks coffee. 

Expect long lines during peak tourist times/seasons—best avoided with weekday morning or winter visits. Plan for three-plus hours to absorb the full experience and to pass through security. Save time by purchasing tickets online in advance.  The building opens the stairs from the 86th floor down to the 80th floor on busy days so visitors can bypass any potential lines.

READ LESS
Notable Building Views Fodor's Choice Family

Quick Facts

20 W. 34th St.
New York, New York  10001, USA

212-736–3100

www.esbnyc.com

Sight Details:
Rate Includes: $44 for 2nd and 86th fl.; $79 to add 102nd fl.; $84 for Express Pass to 86th fl. ($119 to include floor 102)

What’s Nearby