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    Empire State Building New York: ticket prices and views from the observatory

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    Lluis Enric Mayans

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    With its instantly recognizable art deco style it is perhaps the most famous skyscraper in Manhattan. From 1931 to 1967, its 443 meters high allowed it to hold the record as the tallest building in the world. There view from the Empire State Building, thanks to its two panoramic terraces, it is one of the most popular with tourists visiting New York.

    It is perhaps the most successful skyscraper in popular culture since, just a few years after its construction, it became the protagonist of the final scene of the first King Kong film when the gorilla, clinging to its flagpole, engages in a fight with the biplanes they seek. to kill him. To better understand the impact it had in the history of architecture, it is enough to know that, in addition to that ofheight, held two other firsts: it was the fastest-built skyscraper (it took its workers only 410 days to complete its construction) and the first to have more than a hundred floors.


    • Where is it and how to get there
    • Opening hours and entrance rules
    • Ticket prices
    • In which city passes is it included?
    • View: what can be seen from the panoramic terraces
      • The lights of the Empire State Building
      • Confronto con Freedom Tower e Top of the Rock
    • The other observers of New York
    • When to go up? Best times to visit
    • Attractions nearby
    • Where to sleep in the area
    • Virtual tour

    Where is it and how to get there

    The most convenient subway stop to get to the Empire State Building is 34 Street – Herald Sq Station because it is reached by eight underground lines, including four yellow lines (N, Q, R, W) and four orange lines (B, D, F, M. A). A few meters away there is also 34 Street – Penn Station where the red lines 1, 2 and 3 stop.

    The entrance to the observatory is located along Fifth Avenue between 33rd and 34th Street.

    Opening hours and entrance rules

    You can visit the Empire State Building Observatory every day of the year. The new opening hours have been made official, reaching up to the month of January. When we have new news we will update the article.

    Always keep that in mind the last lift departs 45 minutes before closing time.

    • From September to November 24th
      • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 13pm to 00pm
      • Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 to 23:00
    • From November 25th to November 28th
      • every day from 9:00 to midnight
    • 29 17 from November to December
      • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 13pm to 00pm
      • Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 to 23:00
    • From December 18th to December 30th
      • every day from 9:00 to midnight
    • The December 31
      • by 9: 00 23 to: 00
    • From the 1 to the 2 January
      • from 9:00 to midnight.

    All visitors over the age of 12 must provide proof of vaccination occurred, and all those over 2 years old they will have to wear a mask in the internal rooms.

    Ticket prices

    How much does it cost to climb the Empire State Building? As far as ticket prices are concerned, there is a distinction to be made: unlike the Top of the Rock, in fact, there are 2 observatories with separate entrances; you can therefore choose between two types of tickets depending on the number of panoramic terraces you want to visit. Therefore, consider well which one to go to, or whether to visit both, because the price you will have to pay will be different. Another thing to consider is if you want to buy a ticket skip the line (skip the line o Express) oppure no.

    Let's see in detail the choices you will have, taking into account that prices also change according to the time of year. Admission is free for children under six.

    • Only 86th floor standard entrance: from $ 42 for adults, $ 36 for kids (6 to 12) and $ 40 for over 62s
    • 86th floor only skip the line: starting from 78 $ for all
    • 86th and 102nd floor standard entrance: starting from $ 75 for adults, $ 69 for children (6 to 12 years) and $ 73 for over 62
    • 86° e 102° piano skip the line: starting from 111 $ for all

    Sites where to buy tickets:

    • Standard and skip-the-line tickets on GetYourGuide
    • Standard tickets and jumper on Viator

    In which city passes is it included?

    As you have seen, many factors have to be taken into account when buying tickets for this attraction. For this, considering that the entrance to the Empire State Building is included in all city passes, this is the solution that I can recommend and that, most likely, you will find yourself using.

    Even in this case, however, there are still some outstanding issues. So let's go and see how the city passes behave with regard to the question of the two observers and the skip the line.

    First of all, all the New York passes that we list below offer the possibility to visit only the panoramic terrace on the 86th floor. If you want to add a visit to the 102nd, you will have to pay a supplement at the time of entry.

    • New York CityPASS: This pass deserves a special mention as it is the only one that will allow you to visit twice in the same day the Empire State Building. The second visit, however, must strictly take place in the evening; as regards the months from May to August between 22pm and closing while from September to April between 20pm and closing. If you want to add the integration for the 102 floor you will have to pay another 33 $.
    • New York Pass: the supplement to be paid to go up to 102 ° is mentioned as a possibility but the asking price is not indicated. It does not include the ability to skip the line.
    • Explorer Pass: The 102nd floor supplement is mentioned but the price is not indicated and does not include the skip-the-line option.

    The above, combined with the reading of our guide on which pass to New York should choose, can help you in the decision.

    View: what can be seen from the panoramic terraces

    Let's start by saying in what conditions you will be placed to observe the panorama around you. The panoramic terrace on the 86th floor has an indoor part bordered by glass windows and an outdoor part with a railing running along the edge. However, this protection has the advantage of having steel wefts wide enough to still allow photograph the landscape without visual obstacles (even if for your selfies the effect will not be the best). The observatory located on the 102nd floor is entirely covered and you will be able to observe the panorama exclusively through the windows.

    View of the Chrysler Building
    Visa su Downtown

    From the 86th floor terrace you will have a privileged view of downtown Manhattan and the Chrysler Building, on the other hand the most complete view of Central Park can only be had by going up to the 102nd floor panoramic terrace. There is no time limit and you can stay and take your photos for as long as you want.

    The lights of the Empire State Building

    The Empire State Building is not only famous for its history, its view and its style, but also for the chromatic light effects that, during the year, can be observed once the sun has set. In many cases they have a specific meaning such as during the recurrence of the Columbus Day, when the summit of the Empire is colored in white, red and green in homage to Italy and its famous navigator.

    To see the full program of celebrations that are honored by this particular light show, you can visit the official website and find out which chromatic version the Empire State Building will offer you during your stay in New York.

    Confronto con Freedom Tower e Top of the Rock

    View of Downtown from the Freedom Tower

    As for the comparison with the Top of the Rock, we can say that from the Empire we have a better view of the skyline of downtown manhattan, the Freedom Tower and the Chrysler Building. On the other hand, from the 86th floor you will only be able to see a small part of Central Park (and even from the 102nd in my opinion the view is still worse than the Top of the Rock, because it is further away).

    The most negative aspect, if we can call it that, is that from the Empire you will not be able to see… the Empire State Building itself which, especially in the evening, is a sight that is certainly worth photographing.

    It is much more difficult to make a direct comparison with the One World Observatory of the Freedom Tower, since the latter, as you may know, is located in a different area, which offers a privileged view of the midtown Manhattan skyline, the harbor and the Statue of Liberty. However, you will be too close to the downtown skyscrapers to be able to have an overview (which remains the strength of the Empire State Building).

    For this reason, the advice I can give you, if you have the possibility, is to choose two panoramic terraces. Choosing one between Empire State Building and Top of the Rock and leaving fixed the visit to One World Observatory. By doing this you will have the opportunity to better observe Manhattan from above from two different angles.

    In summary the strengths of the views from the 3 skyscrapers:

    • Empire State Building: Downtown and Chrysler Building views
    • Top of the Rock: Central Park ed Empire State Building
    • Freedom Tower: Midtown, Statue of Liberty, Harbor and Brooklyn Bridge

    Views from the Empire State Building

    Downtown view
    View your Central Park
    Vista su Chrysler Building
    View towards Hudson River

    Viste dal Top of the Rock

    View on Empire State Building
    View your Central Park
    Top of The Rock Panoramic Terrace
    Obstructed view on the Chrysler-Building

    Views from the Freedom Tower

    View towards the Hudson River
    Vista su Lower Manhattan
    View of the Statue of Liberty
    View of Downtown from the Freedom Tower

    The other observers of New York

    In addition to the three "historical" observatories in New York, there are two others of recent construction: the The Edge and SUMMIT One Vanderbilt.

    • The Edge: is located in a somewhat peculiar location: in Hudson Yards, a rapidly developing neighborhood on the West Side of Manhattan that has recently enriched itself with the cryptic Vessel. Why visit The Edge? Because it is the highest viewing terrace in the entire Western Hemisphere. The observatory is included in the main tourist passes.
    • SUMMIT One Vanderbilt: inaugurated at the end of 2021, the SUMMIT is located very close to the Chrysler Building but, obviously, it has a completely different, truly futuristic appearance. Visit it if you want to completely reconsider your relationship with the city, reflecting yourself in it.

    When to go up? Best times to visit

    Suggesting a better time to visit such an attraction is always difficult as there are many variables to take into account. For example, do you prefer to have few people around, or enjoy the view at the most beautiful moment of the day? Do you prefer to have an overview of the attractions you plan to visit during the rest of the day, or do you prefer to admire the places you have already visited during the day from above? Photograph the panorama of Manhattan 360 ° is an activity you prefer to do at the end of a long day (perhaps at sunset) or at its beginning?

    Basically these are the questions you have to answer to understand what the best time to go up to the Empire State Building Observation Deck. It may be helpful for your decision to take into account 2 additional information to that provided so far:

    • from Thursday to Saturday from 19 pm to 22 pm it is played live music
    • the time with less turnout generally it is in the morning between 8 and 11

    Personally I would like to give you the same advice written on the article about the Top of the Rock; that is to organize yourself to be on the panoramic terrace before the sunset, so you can combine a view of the New York skyline with both natural and artificial light.

    Attractions nearby

    In the vicinity of the Empire State Building you can find some of the places of interest not to be underestimated.

    • Madison Square Garden: one of the most famous sports facilities in the Big Apple. You can visit the complex with a special tour or, if you have the opportunity, by purchasing a ticket for the numerous events that are hosted there.
    • Bryant Park e la New York Public Library: the public library is a historic building in New York and can be visited for free. Fans of the Ghostbusters movie will have one more reason to do so; it is in fact here that Peter Venkman and his companions will have their first close encounter with a ghost.
    • Grand Central Terminal: perhaps one of the most beautiful and most represented stations in popular culture. A photo in the imposing atrium where a huge American flag stands out is an unmissable ritual for anyone visiting the Big Apple.
    • Chrysler Building: another skyscraper very famous for its unmistakable style. It is not possible to climb it and there are no panoramic terraces; the only part that can be visited for free is the Art Deco lobby which houses the work of Edward Turnbull depicting, among other things, the skyscraper itself and the workers who built it. For more info take a look at our guide on how to visit the Chrysler Building.

    Where to sleep in the area

    As you may have understood, the area in which the Empire State Building is located is very central and touristy and is therefore among the most expensive in terms of hotels. If for you to spend a little more and have the convenience of an accommodation in the heart of Manhattan is an essential aspect, you can take a look at this page where you will find all the hotels in the area. Maybe, with a little luck, you will also find some opportunities.

    If, on the other hand, you are more inclined to maximize your expenses, you can take a look at our guide on where to sleep in New York on a budget, which provides a description of all the areas of the city where it is worthwhile to stay. If you want to look for alternative solutions to the classic hotels you can opt for the rent of an apartment in NY, look for a cheap B&B, or fall back to the hostels in Manhattan.

    Virtual tour

    Here is a video that will help you to have a clearer idea of ​​what awaits you: from the entrance, through the ascent in the elevator, to the magnificent panorama of the observatory.

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