Empire State Building

At the time when it was built in the early 1930s, the Empire State Building broke all records. It stood as the world's tallest building for 40 years, until the construction of WTC. Even today it is a symbol of New York, visited by 2 million people each year. The observatories on the 86th and 102nd floor offer visitors wonderful views of New York City and the surrounding area.

Empire State Building
Empire State Building with downtown Manhattan in the background

Guide and Tips

  • Address
    350 Fifth Ave at 34th St
    MapView Map
  • Transport Subway B, D, F, N, Q, R, V, W to 34th St-Herald Sq; 6 to 33rd Street
  • Website www.esbnyc.com
  • Price
    86th Floor: Adult $25; Senior (62+) $22; Child (6-12) $19
    102th Floor: Additional $17
  • Hours Open every day, 365 days a year 8AM to 2AM
    Last elevator up at 1:15AM

There are 3 lines to get to the top of the Empire State Building: a line for tickets, a line for security, and a line for the elevators. Getting there very early or very late can help you avoid the crowds, but even if you go at night, the lines can still be long.

Line for tickets can be skipped by purchasing the tickets on-line. You can print your tickets and these are good for one full year from the date of purchase. Buy the tickets on the Empire State Building Official Web Site because on some other sites you are purchasing a voucher and you would end up having to stand in line to get the real ticket. Tickets bought on site are $2 cheaper than those bought on-line.

You can't skip the security and elevators lines, but you can skip directly to the front of both by purchasing an Express Pass for $47.50. It guarantees you'll get to the observation deck in twenty minutes.

Sunset is one of the most magical times to be up here because you can see the city don its nighttime cloak in dusk’s afterglow. Once up here, you can stay as long as you like.

Whether day or night, make sure you visit when visibility is good. You want to be able to get the full impact of the City from the observation deck.

The Empire State Building obviously cannot be seen from its own observation deck, so for the best view of the building you better go to Rockefeller Center's observatory.


Empire State Building Construction
Construction of the Empire State Building. The tall skyscraper in the background is the Chrysler Building.

Construction on the Empire State Building started, symbolically, on St.Patrick's Day, March 17th 1930. The project involved 3,400 workers, 5 of which died during the construction. The building was officially opened on May 1, 1931, when United States President Herbert Hoover turned on the building's lights with the push of a button from Washington, D.C.

The construction was part of an intense competition in New York for the title of "world's tallest building". Two other projects fighting for the title, 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler Building, were still under construction when work began on the Empire State Building. Each held the title for less than a year, but in the end, the Empire State Building became the world's tallest building and staid as such for the next 40 years.

The project was completed ahead of schedule and under budget. The final costs totaled only $24.7 million (372.8 million 2012 dollars) instead of the estimated $43 million. It was mostly due to the fact that the opening coincided with the Great Depression in the United States, which reduced the costs. On the other hand, as the result much of its office space went without being rented. The lack of renters led New Yorkers to call the building the "Empty State Building". At the same time, the Chrysler Building, which lost the height competition, did not have this problem, partially because it was finished earlier and partially because of the better location regarding the public transportation, closer to Grand Central Terminal.

Empire State Building Height

Empire State Building Height

Empire State Building has a roof height of 1,250 feet (381 meters) and with its antenna spire included, it stands a total of 1,454 ft (443.2 m) high. It stood as the world's tallest building for 40 years, from its completion in 1931 until construction of the World Trade Center's North Tower was completed in 1972.

The Empire State Building was also the tallest man-made structure in the world for 23 years before it was surpassed by the Griffin Television Tower Oklahoma (KWTV Mast) in 1954, and the tallest free-standing structure in the world for 36 years before it was surpassed by the Ostankino Tower (Moscow, Russia) in 1967.

With the destruction of the World Trade Center in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Empire State Building again became the tallest building in New York City, and the second-tallest building in the Americas, surpassed only by the Willis Tower in Chicago. One World Trade Center, currently under construction, surpassed the roof height of the Empire State Building on April 30, 2012, and became the tallest building in New York City.

It is currently the third tallest completed skyscraper in the United States (after the Willis Tower and Trump International Hotel and Tower, both in Chicago), and the 15th tallest in the world (the tallest is Burj Khalifa, located in Dubai).

Observation decks

The Empire State Building has one of the most popular outdoor observatories in the world, having been visited by over 110 million people. The 86th-floor observation deck offers impressive 360-degree views of the city. There is a second observation deck on the 102nd floor that is open to the public. It is completely enclosed and much smaller than the first one. The Empire State Building makes more money from tickets sales for its observation decks that it does from renting office space.

NY Skyride

NY Skyride

NY Skyride is a specially equipped, motion-simulated, big screen theater located on the second floor at the Empire State Building. The theater seats are mounted to a platform which moves in sync to an 18-foot high-definition screen.

During a 30-minute show you will be taken to a virtual aerial tour of NYC (like in a helicopter) across the skyline and around nearly three dozen famous landmarks. It is a great introduction to all that the City has to offer.

More information and tickets at Skyride.com



Over 220 couples have been officially married at the Empire State Building as part of annual Valentine's Weddings event. The 86th floor observatory is also a popular spot for proposals, and there's a strolling saxophonist playing on it Thursday through Saturday evenings from 10pm to 1am.

The Run-Up is a foot race from ground level to the 86th-floor observation deck that has been held in February each year, since 1978. The race covers a vertical distance of 1,050 feet (320 m) and takes in 1,576 steps. The record time is 9 minutes and 33 seconds, achieved by Australian professional cyclist Paul Crake in 2003.

Lobby Mural

Lobby Mural

At the entrance to the lobby of the Empire state building through the Fifth Avenue a brilliant ceiling mural of the building in 23-karat gold and aluminum leaf is located. This famous mural represents the building set against a map of the New York state (also called Empire State) and the surrounding areas. The lobby also incorporates rare varieties of marble imported from Belgium, France, Germany and Italy.