On the roof of the world at the top of the Empire State Building

New York is a bewildering concentration of avant-garde buildings. These prestigious buildings are renowned for their history, their architecture and the magical views they offer of the entire city. There are around 590 skyscrapers flirting with the clouds, including Lower Manhattan Midtown. Here, on 5th Avenue, between 33rd and 34th Streets, stands an extraordinary building. The face of the Big Apple, symbolic of the first-generation skyscrapers built in the 1930s, the Empire State Building remains one of the world's most iconic monuments. Today, the building still houses offices, but it also provides access to tourists, who can climb to its highest floors to admire the city that never sleeps from its summit, day or night. A breathtaking experience not to be missed!

© peresanz / Shutterstock
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The history of the Empire State Building

Built in 16 months between January 1930 and May 1931 by more than 3,000 workers, the Empire State Building was the tallest building in the world at its inauguration, standing 381 metres high. It was 62 metres taller than its neighbour, the magnificent Chrysler Building, which had been completed a year earlier and had previously held the record.

A worker constructing the Empire State Building in the 1930s.

- © Everett Collection / Shutterstock

Made mainly of steel and concrete, the Empire State Building is one of the benchmarks of Art Deco skyscrapers as they were built between 1925 and 1935 almost exclusively in the United States. It was classified as a national monument by the American government, and even though the building has been surpassed in size many times since its construction, it remains one of the country's strongest symbols.

Why visit the Empire State Building?

The Empire State Building embodies the New York of the 1930s. Its Art Deco stone façade, typical of the period, has over 6,500 windows! Its silhouette is inseparable from the New York skyline, and has featured in many films and TV series, including King Kong, Spider Man, Friends and Gossip Girl.

The top of the Empire State Building is colored according to events.

- © ventdusud / Shutterstock

The interior is just as mythical! Right from the entrance hall, you can't help but be overwhelmed by the magnificence of the premises: also Art Deco-inspired, it extends over three floors and its marble and granite walls covered with works of art meet a ceiling adorned with platinum, aluminium and gold leaf. In all, 73 lifts and 1,872 steps link its 102 floors. An unusual foot race is even organised every year: the first person to reach the 86th floor on foot wins.

The view from the Empire State Building.

- © andersphoto / Shutterstock

The second floor of the Empire State Building houses a museum that traces its construction and history. You can also see photos of the many celebrities who have visited the skyscraper: Taylor Swift, Hugh Jackman, Justin Bieber and Emma Watson... the Empire State Building has seen a lot of people come and go! Then we take the lift, which takes us up to the 86th floor in less than a minute.

Book your ticket for the Empire State Building New York

Book your ticket for the Empire State Building

Climb to the top of one of New York's most legendary buildings and enjoy a breathtaking view of Manhattan.
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£44 / person
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Here, at an altitude of almost 320 metres, the observation platform offers an incomparable view of Manhattan and the opposite banks of the Hudson and East Rivers. You can easily make out Times Square, Central Park and the Statue of Liberty. Opened at the same time as the building itself, the observatory has welcomed more than 110 million visitors since 1931.

The observation platform of the Empire State Building.

- © Paper Cat / Shutterstock

For a few dollars more, you can go up to the 102nd floor. Under normal circumstances, the view is much the same, but if the weather is good and the sky is perfectly clear, you can see 130 kilometres in all directions and make out Pennsylvania, Connecticut and even Massachusetts!

Our favourite hotel with a view of the Empire State Building

Hilton Garden Inn West 35th Street 3* - New York New York
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Hilton Garden Inn West 35th Street 3* - New York

The rooms with views of the Empire State Building at this 3-star hotel are definitely worth a visit!
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Practical information for the Empire State Building

The Empire State Building observatory, with its unmistakable façade in the New York skyline, is a must-see on any trip to the United States. Allow around an hour for the visit (a little longer if your ticket also includes the observatory on the 102nd floor).

🚌 How do I get to the Empire State Building?

The entrance to the Empire State Building is at 20 W. 34th St., with other access reserved for people who work there. In the heart of Manhattan, it is served by a large number of underground lines:

  • lines 1, 2, 3, A, C and E: 34th Street - Penn Station
  • lines B, D, F, N, Q and R: 34th Street - Herald Square Station
  • lines 4, 5, 6 and 7: Grand Central Terminal station

The Empire State Building is one of New York's tallest skyscrapers.

- © Susanne Pommer / Shutterstock

⏰ Empire State Building opening times

The Empire State Building is open every day of the year, from 10am to midnight. Times may vary, however, so check the official website to organise your visit.

👛 Price of the Empire State Building

  • Full price: $44
  • Over 61s: $42
  • Under 13s: $38
  • Under 6s: free
  • New York CityPASS / GoCity Explorer Pass / New York Sightseeing Day Pass: free

👉 These prices include access to the observatory on the 86th floor, you will need to add $33 to access the one on the 102nd floor.

Other services and experiences are also available, to find out about them and book your tickets (it's not possible to buy them on site), go directly to the official Empire State Building website.

A few tips for your visit

  • Plan your visit for early morning or after 10pm to avoid the crowds.
  • The New York CityPASS allows you to take two tours in one day: one by day and one by night.
  • An audio tour can be downloaded directly onto your Android or IOS smartphone.
  • The Empire State Building is accessible to PRMs.
by Jude JONES
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