The Empire State Building is one of the most iconic skyscrapers in New York and a symbol of the city. This 103-story Art Deco edifice—sometimes inaccurately described as having 102 stories—houses primarily offices, with a well-visited observation deck at its summit. The vistas of Manhattan and surrounding neighborhoods are unforgettable, making a visit to the Empire State Building a must for any New York City trip!
The Empire State Building Was Originally Intended for Airship Docking
Construction of the Empire State Building commenced in 1929 on the grounds previously occupied by the Waldorf Hotel, the precursor to the world-renowned Waldorf Astoria. Over 3,500 workers, predominantly immigrants from Europe, including Czechoslovakia, participated in the construction.
Reports suggest that five people lost their lives during the construction of the Empire State Building. Considering they were working hundreds of meters above ground with minimal shielding, this count is surprisingly low.
The Empire State Building opened after just 410 days of construction work on May 1, 1931, by President Herbert Hoover. From his White House office, he illuminated the skyscraper, which then stood as the world’s tallest building. This title lasted until 1970, when the World Trade Center overtook the Empire State Building. The Empire State Building held the title of the tallest building in the world for 39 years—a record it is unlikely to lose—at a height of 1,250 ft.
The spire of the Empire State Building was initially intended to serve an additional purpose. The 103rd floor was constructed outdoors to accommodate it. The plan was for airships to dock at the top of the Empire State Building. Passengers were to check in on the 86th floor, and an elevator would transport them to the 102nd floor to board the airships. However, the plan was discarded when it was discovered that poor airflow would make docking risky.
The Empire State Building experienced its most significant tragedy on July 28, 1945, when a small plane crashed into its 79th floor. The accident resulted in the death of the pilot, two passengers in the plane, and 11 people inside the skyscraper.
Interesting Facts about the Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is lit up at night, offering a spectacular sight. But it’s not your typical monochromatic light—it comprises various colors that change according to the occasion. For example, the Empire State Building turns red for Christmas and green on Ireland’s St. Patrick’s Day. To find out the current lighting colors of the Empire State Building, visit its website.
Construction of the Empire State Building cost $40,948,900 at the time; when adjusted to the 2023 dollar value, this is roughly $700,812,884. Upon its opening, the Empire State Building became the first building in the world with over 100 floors.
Due to its height, the Empire State Building serves as a transmitter for most of New York City’s television and radio stations. And as the Empire State Building is the second-largest office complex in the USA after the Pentagon, it has its own ZIP code. If you ever need to write to any of the over 1,000 businesses or any of the 21,000 employees in the Empire State Building, you’ll use the number 10118.
Every February, the Empire State Building Run-Up race takes place. Participants race up the 86 floors—a total of 1,576 steps—as quickly as possible. Anyone can participate; the entry fee is $150. For the record, the current record is held by Australian professional cyclist Paul Crake, whose 2003 run took just 9 minutes and 33 seconds.
Empire State Building Tickets, Operating Hours, and More Visitor Information
🚇 How to Get There
The Empire State Building is located at 350 Fifth Avenue. The nearest subway station is 34 St – Herald Sq, just 820 ft away. The B, D, F, and M lines stop there. The observation deck is situated 1,050 ft (86th floor) and 1,211 ft (102nd floor) above ground level, offering spectacular views in all directions.
The Empire State Building’s operating hours are easy to remember. It is open 365 days a year from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm.
🎟️ Empire State Building Admission
Admission to the Empire State Building to the 86th floor is $44 per adult, $42 for seniors aged 62 and older, and $38 for children aged 6 to 12.
If you also wish to access the platform on the 102nd floor, a combination ticket will cost $79 (adults), $77 (seniors aged 62 and older), and $73 (children aged 6 to 12). I recommend purchasing tickets online in advance.
The last update on prices was on February 8, 2023.
💡 How to Save
If you plan to visit other attractions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Statue of Liberty, and so on during your visit to New York City, consider purchasing The New York Pass. A single ticket provides entry to a wide range of attractions and can save you dozens of dollars. Another advantage is that it allows you to avoid waiting in line for tickets.
How to Save Money in New York City
Photos of the Empire State Building