Empire State Building

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An emblem of the New York City skyline, the Empire State Building is one attraction that is on most first-time tourists’ Must See list of NYC attractions. Towering high above the skyline, the 1,476 foot tall structure boasts unsurpassed views of New York, its surrounding boroughs and, on a clear day, even New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Delaware. Visitors from the world over see the Empire State Building as an emblem of New York, America, and the ability of man.


Located at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street, the Empire State Building first turned on its famous lights on May 1, 1931. It was originally designed for the express purpose of holding the title of the Tallest Building in the World at 1,250 feet. And, though by today’s standards the ESB is small – the Burj Khalfia in Dubai is a stunning 2,723 feet – at the time it not only won the title, but held for a record 37 years. In 1950 when the famous broadcast tower (you know, that pointy tip) was added, the building was raised to a total of 1,476 feet tall. It remains the tallest building in New York since the destruction of the Twin Towers in 2001.

The ESB is also well-known for its many movie appearances over the years. Featured as a major backdrop in over 250 feature films, it is most famous for its roles in An Affair to Remember, and (relatedly) Sleepless in Seattle as well as King KongKramer v. Kramer, and Taxi Driver, to name a few.

Opening its doors amidst the throes of the Great Depression, the ESB offered both jobs and hope to people of New York. In the decades since, the building and its famous lights continue to serve as a beacon for people throughout America and the world. The lights of the ESB have stood for everything from awareness (pink in October for breast cancer or blue in April for autism), to victory (Yankee blue), to thanks (including the emblematic red, white, and blue of America and blue, white, and yellow in honor of the FDNY and National EMS week in May). To many New Yorkers, the lights of the ESB are a constant reminder of something they all share and a welcome beacon to any downtrodden who wish to join their ranks, if only for a few days.

Main Attraction

There is a reason that the Empire State Building consistently ranks among the top tourist spots in New York City. Upon entering the ESB, visitors will be immediately taken by its now-restored 1930s Art Deco lobby. The space, which serves as a reminder of the ESB’s beginnings, includes such original details as an intricate ceiling mural that was covered in the 1960s and the light fixtures that combine 1930s design elements with modern technology and energy efficiency. Besides the lobby, the observatories on the 86th and 102nd floors continually rank among the most popular stops for New York tourists from around the world.

Both observation floors are open 365 days a year. The indoor viewing platform on the 86th floor is a popular choice for those looking for a panoramic view of the city, which is given thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows. The observation deck on the 102nd floor, on the other hand, is open to the elements, offering viewers a more birds’ eye picture of New York. Both decks are worth a visit for their unique elements. In addition, a trip to the ESB after dark can offer tourists both amazing views and the chance at entertainment including regular music provided on weekend nights as well as special acts throughout the year.

Why It’s a Must-See

The reasons to visit the Empire State Building are pretty clear. Nowhere in New York is there a better option to see the city in all its glory, 365 days a year, both day and night. Though each individual attraction in New York holds its own special charm, this chance to see it all, all at once in one of the most famous structures in the world should not be missed.

Where to Buy It

There are a number of ways you can enjoy admission to this attraction.

Save up to 20% online at Smart Destinations. If you add more than one attraction to the cart, you will get an automatic savings of up to 20%. It’s called Make Your Own Pass.

Pay Full Price and purchase a ticket from Empire State Building either online or in person.

Purchase a Tourist pass. Empire State Building Observatory is available on the The New York PassNew York City Explorer Pass and New York CityPass