A local excursion to EMPIRE STATE BUILDING (ESB) in New York City

The prominent skyscraper is placed on the well-known Fifth Avenue, which is the main avenue in Manhattan between Downtown and Uptown, and the neighborhood is called Middletown. 5th Avenue is a symbol of the city's wealth and is the most central, most famous part of Manhattan. It is here that money flows from almost all over the world and, according to one of the conspiracy theories, the most important decisions regarding the rest of the earth are made.

A square meter of office space on this street costs more than anywhere else in the world. Empire State Building (let’s name it ESB in the further description) is among the world-famous magnets you can’t miss on your stay in New York City. The prominent 102-story tower shows the most amazing and remarkable views with a 360-degree around the surroundings. Many other remarkable city buildings are well visible from the local observation platform as well. The most charming part of the tower is the observation terrace on the 86th floor along with the recently decorated Art deco lobby. It gives you a rare chance for a unique opportunity to examine this magnificent juncture of the island on your NYC sightseeing tours with a local private English-speaking tour guide who you can easily find on our website. There everybody can find many NYC tour guides that offer local guided tours along the city’s main attractions that give you better options and freedom to enjoy your vacation. Most of the local NYC tour guides can help in planning your travel itineraries to provide more ease and convenience while touring and exploring the best appeals in New York City.

How this tower appeared in NYC

The idea to build the most elevated edifice in the city was born by the heads of the Bethlehem Engineering Corp at the beginning of the 20th century. They decided to construct an unusual building to showcase their thriving company. The problem is that the edifice of a skyscraper owned by Generals Motors called the Chrysler Building has started right next door. Both constructions competed fiercely with each other, starting from the pace of work, and ending with the luxurious finish of the interiors.

You can read our article about the Chrysler building here - Chrysler Building: the Prominent Tower Of New York City

Generals Motors announced the completion of the project earlier, but plans were changed just before it was put into service. A special superstructure was created on the roof of the skyscraper. It is a stainless steel turret forming the shiny roof of the edifice. This steel spire, decorated with Egyptian motifs, is nowadays the hallmark of the automotive giant's headquarters. Such a move, rumor has it, was made after the projects of the ESB were stolen and fell into the hands of the masters of American transport. They showed that it would be taller than Chrysler. After the changes, everything was supposed to be back to normal.

Of course, competitors, having learned about it, also made corrections to the documentation. It was recommended to add an element in the form of a superstructure with several floors and a steel dome on top of the tower. Thus, the ESB took over the priority from Chrysler just several months after the latter announced the realization of the world's tallest structure.

View looking up of the Empire State Building, seen from Herald Square, New York City, United States

This massive structure was created during the 1930s just before the Great Depression on 5th Avenue and was finished in approx 410 days. It was built over an entire city block. This site was originally inhabited by the Hotel of Waldorf Astoria in 1897. The hotel was one of the posh and biggest hotels in New York City with 1050 rooms. The owners decided to rebuild the lodging in a different location as the style became outdated over the years and the construction of a new skyscraper started on this site. It became the fastest skyscraper concluded swiftly in those times. The authorized inauguration of the building was done on May 1st, 1931 with the participation of Franklin D Roosevelt who was the Governor at that time.

The ESB was supposed to be the last facility that was constructed, before the Great Depression which had the worst impact on the real estate economy. For almost 40 years, this grand edifice held its world’s most towering building title, there were no more tall skyscrapers being made in the city around that time, except for the Rockefeller Center after 1933. Nearly after two decades, the real estate market recovered fully, when this construction became one of the most worthwhile structures around New York City


The ESB is luxurious in each way. Walls and floors are finished with colorful marble and decorated with brass and crystals. Most of the doors are covered with polished metal, and the elevators were hailed as technological marvels in their day. As is often the case, nevertheless, not everything went as planned. The richly finished building stood empty for many years. There just weren't enough companies in New York City rich enough to rent expensive office space in a place like this. Especially since Chrysler took over most of the applicants a few months earlier.

The American Great Depression of the late 1920s did not help, companies went bankrupt or changed owners. The ESB also passed from hand to hand. In the early 90s, a Japanese billionaire arranged to become the owner of the renowned building. He didn't need a skyscraper to run his business. All in all, he wouldn't make much money from it, and maybe he would lose it, but he wanted to buy an American symbol. Reportedly, he had previously been interested in the Statue of Liberty, which was refused sale.

The owners of the ESB have found out that the Japanese Hideki Yokoi has a very suspicious past. He reportedly burned his corporate buildings to receive generous compensation. Several times it happened that the hotels he owned burned down with the guests staying in them. After a fake refusal, the billionaire turned to his good friend Donald Trump to help him with the purchase. It's about this carrot-colored blonde who sits on America's throne some years ago. So, finally, Trump buys Empire with the money of the Japanese and after Hideki's death, in 1998, he becomes its owner. The American symbol was in Trump's hands when a terrorist attack in September 2011 happened in the USA.


The panorama from the ESB is amazing. Of course, we think it's worth spending 40 USD. If you play around, you can pay a little less by buying a New York CityPass card. Thanks to it, you will visit several or even a dozen New York City interests at a very good price. In addition, crowds are also only in the season and at certain times of the day. Apparently, there are not many tourists on the observation deck at dawn, and the sun rises over New York City like nowhere else. On the official ESB website, everybody can read that the recommended hours are in the morning from 8 to 11.


We are rather creatures of the night and turn over at sunrise. So we decided to watch the famous, natural spectacle put on by the sun when it works the other way, i.e. during sunset. In fact, there were a lot of people and we had to fight a bit for a good spot on the terrace. If you don't like crowds and prefer a bit of solitude, you can go up to the VIP observation patio on the 102nd floor. Of course, the price for this pleasure is truly VIP.

We enjoyed it very much, despite the slight squeeze. As the setting sun slips between the skyscrapers of Manhattan, painting the buildings pastel, all you can do is stand and stare with your mouth open. Reportedly, one New Yorker has come to watch the dusk from the ESB regularly, every week for 58 years, and he claims. It will never stop. The view of the city from the remark deck is almost magical.

Manhattan skyscrapers look very interesting. Recently, a friend noticed that Manhattan buildings from high up look like computer motherboards. When I looked at the city again, I had to agree with him. The island is like a large and very complex creation of an alien civilization, where people and cars act as data streams running to the farthest parts of the city.


Of course, we take the lift to the top of the building, unless you prefer stairs like Mr. Paula Crake from Australia, who is still the undefeated winner in the annual race to the lid of the edifice. There are almost 2,000 steps to run, and the record is just over 9 and a half minutes. However, no matter how fast you enter, you will not be able to overtake the very fast elevators, of which there are over 70 in the building. They cover the route from the ground floor to the 80th floor in just over 40 seconds. After leaving the first lift, we can use the next one, which will take us to the main deck located on the 86th floor. However, instead of standing in the next queue, you can go to the terrace by the stairs. In this case, there is an opportunity to look at the famous building from the inside.

If you have planned your visit for Saturday evening, it is very likely that your stay at the top of New York City will be made even more pleasant by a famous saxophonist in the city. Sunset to the sounds of well-known jazz standards is supposedly unforgettable. As I have already written, for the pleasure of entering the observation deck you have to pay 38 dollars for an adult and 32 for a child. There are other options that are easy to match using the official website of the building.

There are tower lights that illuminate the building that lit the spire (top of the building) to mark some particular occasions and look simply dazzling. They can be seen during St. Patrick’s Day, Independence Day, and also on Christmas day along with many other affairs. These tower lights change color according to the event and organizations throughout the year. In 2012, a new LED light system was introduced with the ability to display around 16 million colors which are simply fantastic. Discover the beautiful Art Deco theme lobby Explore the magnificent and creatively designed interiors of the Art Deco lobby comprising of ceiling murals with the depiction of the stars and planets that looks stunning in 24-carat gold and aluminum leaf, inside this historical building. 

On the front desk along the walls of the fifth Avenue lobby, you can catch a glimpse of the most elegant depiction of the building itself, which is one of the most popular images. Head along the second floor to the spacious and sprawling visitor center to purchase your entries and also see the sustainability display and the Dare to Dream Exhibit. Here you can comprehend more about the grand history of the construction of this state-of-the-art, marvelous, and world-class skyscraper. Make the most of your NYC sightseeing tours with local private tour guides by catching the majestic glimpse and stunning views of The Hudson River, Central Park, and the East River along with the Brooklyn Bridge, the famous Statue of Liberty, Times Square, and other world-class views. There are multi-media handheld devices available to provide information regarding each and every view from separate directions to the guests. 

Catch the most panoramic views of this city’s skyline from across the 102nd floor using the manually operated elevator. From here you can get a closer and complete view of Central Park and other famous NYC sightseeing magnets. And of course, if you like to obtain the finest panoramas of the ESB itself, then it may be a good idea to climb up the Rockefeller Center and get majestic views from its observatory. Grab a tour of the official store 


When entering the building, pay attention to the gorgeous interiors. In 2009, the entire ground floor was perfectly restored according to the original plans. The entire interior was made in the then very popular Art Deco style. The central lobby is, of course, on Fifth Avenue, and that's where I recommend going preferably. The museum dedicated to the ESB collects authentic posters from films shot in the skyscraper.

The large reception desk, behind which people responsible for the flow of people and information in the edifice sit, is coated with 24-carat gold and polished aluminum. The walls, as well as the ceilings and floors, are lined with marble so shiny that they give the impression of mirrors. On the wall in the back, you will see the famous relief from the ESB. It shows a map with the Empire in the middle and plates with the 7 world wonders, where the described skyscraper was shown as the eighth wonder. In addition, the walls and ceilings are decorated with symbols of stars, planets, and moons, it looks phenomenal.

If you look closely, you will see individuals entering the lift intended for the residents of the skyscraper. Yes, part of the facility has been sold to personal owners and as you can guess, it is the financial cream of the New York City elite. You can easily see places that have become the stage for many popular movies. The entire building has become the backdrop for scenes in many productions. From the famous King Kong from the 1930s, in which a huge monkey climbs the facade to the top of the building, to the latest productions from the Marvel stable.

One of the rooms in the museum on the 2nd floor is dedicated to the famous monkey. You can sit here on King Kong's giant paw coming out of the wall. In other rooms of the museum, you can see posters and memorabilia from films in which the skyscraper appears. There are also photos of the streets of New York City which were made during the construction of the building. Here you will find old photos from the structure site and items belonging to former builders. Very interesting place, I recommend staying here a bit longer, instead of marching straight to the elevators. And that's all we remember from our visit to one of the prettiest skyscrapers in New York City. However, I've heard that every time you go to the ESB you notice something new and interesting. Is it true? I will tell you about it after our next visit.


Below is some practical information that will help you explore this extraordinary place.


Empire State Building Address 350 Fifth Avenue, 33rd/34th Streets, New York City, NY 10001


The most straightforward route to get around Manhattan is by metro. There are stations that serve trains from almost all over the city. On the official map of the city, it is easy to check which metro will be right for you.


The building weighs 365,000 tons. 60 tons of steel and 10 million bricks were used in its construction. The height of the skyscraper is 381 meters without the tower, when we add it, we get 449 meters. The facility has 6,500 windows, and 73 lifts and can be accessed through 5 official entrances. The building is enlightened by almost 3 million light bulbs, and 96 kilometers of pipes drain water and sewage. It seems big, but it's nothing compared to 5,500 kilometers of electric cables.

Nearly 3,500 workers took part in the construction. Together, they have worked out almost 7 million hours. The work lasted day and night for 410 days. Mohawk Indians were hired in the construction, they have a rare feature, namely, they were not afraid of heights. 15,000 people work in our skyscraper every day. They generate almost 100,000 tons of garbage per month. There are two viewing terraces at the top of the building. The one on the 86th floor is available to everyone. There is a separate one on the 102nd floor which you have to pay extra for. In good weather, visibility is over 100 kilometers.

The September 11 terrorist attack was not the first time a plane hit a Manhattan skyscraper. In 1945, an American bomber bound for New Jersey hit the ESB at the height of the 78th floor. The force of the impact was so great that some parts of the plane broke through the walls. The cause of the disaster was dense fog over the city and an inexperienced pilot. From the beginning of its existence, the skyscraper served as the city's lightning rod. More than 100 lightning bolts strike the building's spire each year.

The building was the most towering structure created by human hands until 1974. Then it was surpassed by a radio and television mast built in Poland. The radio mast in Konstantynów was 646 meters high. In 1991, it collapsed but remained the tallest artificially created object on earth until the end. It was beaten only by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai built by Samsung in 2008. Originally, the mast on top of the ESB was planned as a sky-mooring point for giant airships. However, the idea did not work, the approaches of large aircraft turned out to be too dangerous. Today, the mast is used by almost all public television and radio stations in New York City.

The observation terrace at the top of the tower is very popular among suicide bombers. More than 30 people jumped from its top, including one who survived. In 1979, a lady jumped off a terrace cursing an unfaithful lover. She did not check beforehand, however, and fell onto the small terrace below. The adventure ended with broken ribs and a promise never to do it again. In the 1950s, when in the communist bloc there was an unattainable desire to get technically closer to the hated west, the Russians copied the ESB construction and made a similar one at home. An example is the Seven Sisters in Moscow and, of course, the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw.

The Empire State Building is eagerly visited by movie and TV stars. There is a whole gallery dedicated to them in one of the rooms of the museum on the second floor. If you would like to take back some wonderful memories of this impressive structure with you, then don’t forget to see the official present store on the 80th floor. You will find a great choice of gifts and souvenirs-right from clothing apparel to creatively inspired jewelry in lovely designs along with the ESB designs obtainable for the guests.


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Read our next article Explore the New World Trade Center On Your NYC Sightseeing Tours

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