New York Sights to See - Empire State Building
The Empire State Building in mid-town Manhattan has justifiably been called the eighth wonder of the world. To travel
to New York without having seen it is almost like not going at
all. No longer the tallest building in the world, it remains
one of the largest office buildings and is currently the tallest in New York at 102
This engineering marvel was built in record time at the depths of the Depression between
1930 and 1931, when it was completed in May. In some periods, more than
two floors per week were being added at a time before many modern
The Empire State Building (shown at left) occupies a city block at 5th Avenue between 33rd and 34th Street,
but can be seen from several blocks away (or several miles, at higher
elevations). Art Deco
in style, the building houses a visitor's museum in the lobby and a
viewing platform near the top. Security is strict and prices are
relatively steep, but it's still a great bargain for a two-hour tour of such an iconic site and includes a
stunning view of Manhattan and the surrounding area.
In the lobby museum a visitor can learn all about the history of the
building, and the New York of the period generally. Also there are
displays of interesting visuals discussing the ancient wonders of the
world with which it's often compared.
The lobby itself is something of a museum, too, with its large Art Deco
golden wall friezes and lovely polished stone. Old-movie buffs will
particularly appreciate the ambiance, and the setting, which has been
featured in many Hollywood films, which makes it easy to imagine living
in the period.
The long elevator ride to the viewing platform is probably not a good
time to think about the accident in 1945 when a B-52 crashed into the
middle of the building. Causing relatively minor damage, the fire was
extinguished in less than an hour. However, the crash caused the
elevator to fall. Not to worry, the elevator operator survived a
75-floor drop without a bruise. Thank you Mr. Otis, master
At the 86th floor, on one of the frequent clear days, an awed traveler
or native New Yorker can stand on the outdoor platform over 1,000 feet
above the street. From there he or she can see the Statue of Liberty
off the southern tip of the island, or all the way up to the top of Central Park
at 110th Street.
The panoramic view also includes the shining aluminum-and-green-glass Citicorp, the
now the Sony
Building, the steel-gargoyle-topped Chrysler
Building, and several other prominent landmark
If you get hungry, there are two restaurants and a sushi bar, as well
as three coffee shops. Security rules forbid bringing in bottles, so
make use of these instead.
And, in case you decide you never want to leave, you can rent one of
the many offices and build a shower in the bathroom. You can use the
Post Office or one of the two banks when you just can't do business
electronically. There's even a drug store, for those days you got
rained on using the viewing platform.
Once you're back down on street level again, be sure to stand across the street looking up. Imagine the many iron-workers who stood in the high winds and cold weather tossing red-hot rivets across the uncompleted floors. Then marvel at the completed work, both a feat of engineering and masterpiece of art.
If you are in New York, you must visit the Empire State Building as I did with my brother-in-law in 1965 before shipping out of Fort Dix, New Jersey, for my first tour of duty in Germany!
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