One of the world’s most famous buildings, this art deco landmark (350 5th Ave., at 34th St., 212/736-3100, www.esbnyc.com , 8 a.m.–2 a.m. daily, tickets sold until 11:15 p.m., adults $19, seniors $17, children 6–11 $13) was built during the Depression in an astonishing 14 months, at the rate of four stories a week.
For years, it stood as the world’s tallest building. That’s no longer true, yet the Empire State remains the quintessential skyscraper, holding 73 elevators, 6,500 windows, 3,500 miles of telephone and telegraph wire, 1,860 steps, and a glorious spot for a midnight rendezvous ala Sleepless in Seattle.
Visits to the two observation decks, one on the 86th floor, the other on the 102nd (additional fee), are so popular the lines are legendary, though a new express ticket at double the cost offers front-of-line access if time is tight. Pre-purchase regular admission tickets online to slice off a substantial wait as well.
In 1933, Irma Eberhardt became the first person to commit suicide by jumping off the Empire State. That same year, the original classic film King Kong was made, showing a giant ape climbing up the skyscraper. In 1945, a B-25 bomber smacked into the building’s 79th floor, killing 14 people. And in 1986, two parachutists jumped from the 86th floor to land safely on 5th Avenue. Also, in case you’re wondering, pennies thrown off the Empire State cannot kill passersby walking below, but they can cause severe burns.
In the Empire State Building is Skyride (212/279-9777, 8 a.m.–10 p.m. daily, adults $29.50/C$39.50, seniors $22.50/C$28.50 and students $22.50/C$32.50, children 6–12 $16.00/C$22.00; pre-purchased (C)ombination tickets with 86th floor observation deck is the best option), a virtual-reality flight that takes viewers over, under, and through New York City . The 7.5-minute journey takes place in a theater built with a hydraulic floor that rises, falls, and banks left and right to match the on-screen action. A separate entrance (5th Avenue between 33rd and 34th street) and combo ticket to the 86th floor observatory boasts up to 75 percent wait-time reduction.