Guide to Visiting the Empire State Building, NYC

The Empire State Building stands 1,250 feet (381 meters) tall and the pinnacle raises the height another 203 feet (62 meters). The first 85 stories serve as space for commercial and business offices. On the 86th floor, visitors find both an indoor and an outdoor observation deck. The upper most 16 stories consist of the iconic Art Deco tower and the observatory on the 102nd floor. The entire building features 6,500 windows, 73 elevators and 1,860 steps up to the 102nd floor. Located in Midtown Manhattan, on the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street, the Empire State Building is now the fourth tallest skyscraper in the country.

Photograph of a Workman on the Framework of th...
Photograph of a Workman on the Framework of the Empire State Building. Many structural workers are above middle-age. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
ESB History

From 1799 to 1859, the land on which the Empire State Building now stands served as fertile farmland. Between 1859 to 1862, two mansions transformed the site. In 1893, William Waldorf Astor deconstructed one of the mansions and built the Waldorf Hotel. Four years later, the other mansion was converted into the Astoria Hotel by Mrs. William Backhouse Astor. History would later know the complex as the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

However, the grand facility was short-lived when the Bethlehem Engineering Company purchased the venue for $20 million in 1928. Two years later, construction of the Empire State Building began. President Hoover officiated at the grand opening on May 1, 1931. Four “Freedom Lights” beacons were added in 1956. These were replaced with floodlights eight years later. By 2012, the structure was lit via a LED system. Operated by computers, the technology produces 16,000,000 different colors.

In Modern Culture

The building has been featured in thousands of cinematic films and television shows. Various celebrities and dignitaries have visited over the years. The Empire State Building even has its own social media site. On Valentine’s Day, in 1994, the structure served as the wedding location for 250 couples. The event was televised.

English: Empire State Building lit up red and ...
English: Empire State Building lit up red and green. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Light Shows

The tower lights change colors to commemorate holidays and special events. These shows are often synchronized with musical broadcasts on Clear Channel radio stations. Some of the events have included the passing of actress Fay Wray in 2004, who starred in the original King Kong movie. The lights were dimmed in her honor. When Frank Sinatra died, the ESB displayed blue lights in commemoration of the singer’s blue eyes. After the 911 tragedy, red, white and blue lights radiated across the building in a show of the country’s solidarity.

Visiting the Empire State Building

The structure conveniently stands within walking distance of many popular locations that include Central Park, Macy’s, Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and Times Square. Upon entering the building, visitors are greeted by enormous murals representing the mechanical age, the planets and stars. The Visitor’s Center on the second floor sells the tickets to explore the observation areas. Families with young children avoid crowds by arriving between 8:00 and 11:00 A.M. Use the restrooms on the second floor before ascending to the heights.

Couples have the chance to share romantic moments between midnight and 1:00 A.M. A musician serenades guests with his saxophone Thursday through Saturday nights from 9:00 P.M. to 1:00 A.M. Special rates are provided to groups having 20 or more members. Call family, friends and co-workers and share a memorable gathering at the Empire State Building. Photograph enthusiasts tagging their pics with #EmpireStateBuilding have the chance to see them featured on the ESB Gallery Page.