Sunday, July 13, 2008

Empire State Building

Empire State Building - Brochure
I went up the Empire State Building (ESB) on this beautiful and hot Sunday morning. It was quite an affair. First there was a snaking line with tour operators yelling at me trying to sell a tour package, then I got ESB staff yelling about security checks and buying their merchandise (this circular map they were touting – see photo). When I reached the ticket booth I had a menu of options to choose from. If you want the full meal deal (which I did) for one person, it’s $46. That includes access to 86th floor observation deck (open), the 102nd floor observation deck (small and enclosed, usually not crowded), the audio guide, and the circular map to help decipher the surrounding landmarks.

After buying my ticket, the line passed through different passage ways, through gift shops, past places to eat, a place where they take my picture (which I could buy later) and finally I got to the elevator (about 45 minutes after starting). Whew. The elevator only took us up to the 80th floor. At that point I could wait for a second elevator (slow) or walk up the six flights. I think they are revising the experience, so maybe I got an experience that is temporary. Whatever the case, it was a bit convoluted.

Finally, after reaching the 86th floor, I went outside. It was worth the obtuse path to the top. What a view. You can easily spend an hour or more marveling at the view.

When I was done with this floor, I took another elevator to reach the 102nd floor observation deck. To tell the truth the 102nd floor observation deck wasn’t really worth it. Stick with the 86th floor and save a little money. So you are a little higher on the 102nd floor, but looking through thick and not very clean windows wasn’t that interesting. The audio guide was worth it, but I like audio guides. The circular map? Depends if you are into maps. There are interpretive signs at every compass point and plenty of people around who will know what is what. (I am into maps, so I bought one but didn’t open it until days later.)

If you can’t see the ESB because of all the other buildings as you are walking toward it (and it can happen), the main entrance is on 5th Avenue between 33rd and 34th Streets (location).

The Circular Map They Really Want You To Buy!

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