The Empire State Building in New York

Empire State Building(en español) The Empire State Building is the most recognized building in New York City’s skyline. If this is your first time in New York, there is absolutely no way you can go home without either having been on top of the Empire State Building or to get a great view of it on the Rockefeller Center’s Top of the Rock. From both places, you will enjoy the splendid greatness of this cityscape, and open your eyes for how far it stretches.

TIPS: We cover the Empire State Building from the outside on both our Midtown Manhattan Day Tour and Night Tour and be sure to read our self-guided New York skyscraper tour.

  • Get 10% off each ticket with CitySights.  You must use promo code SAVE10.
  • Get 15% or 25% off if you combine your Empire State Building ticket with one or two other attraction.
  • CitySights offers a good deal: Tickets to the Empire State Building, 2 days of hop-on, hop-off bus service, including a night tour, Brooklyn and Bronx tours, a hop-on, hop-off ferry ticket + 2 museums for $63/adult and $54/child when you use code FREETOURS15.


How to Get to the Empire State Building

The Empire State Building is located between 34th and 32nd Streets and 5th and 6th Avenues with it’s main entrance on 5th Ave.   With it’s midtown location, the Empire State Building is easily accessible by the mass transit with 10 subway lines with stops within walking distance.  We recommend that you use this Google map for directions to the Empire State Building from anywhere in the city.

Click here for a larger movable map

How to get to the Empire State Building


Visiting the Empire State BuildingNew York empire state building north view

Today the Empire State Building welcomes more than 3.8 million visitors each year.  There are two viewing platforms: the more popular and cheaper one is on the 86th Floor and the more private and expensive one is on the 102th Floor.  You can visit between 8am-2am, so you can choose whether you like to see the dazzling lights after dusk or to get up to 80 miles (129 km) of view (on a clear day). Twilight is a popular time of the day to come up and see the city, which means waiting times are a bit longer. To avoid the crowds come between 8am-11am.


Empire State Building Tickets

TIP:  If you are considering purchasing a New York City tourist discount pass, keep in mind that entry to the Empire State Building is included for free with the New York Pass, CityPass and the New York Explorer Pass.  Check out our blog post on which NYC tourist pass to purchase. These options will provide you more discounts for other NYC sights as well.

Main Deck (86th Floor)

  • $34 Adults -Get 10% off each ticket with CitySights.  You must use promo code SAVE10.
  • $31 Seniors 62+
  • $27 Children 6-12
  • children under 6 free
  • VIP entry to skip the lines $60 per person 
  • Military discount $3  Free for all military in dress uniform.
  • CitySights offers a good deal: Tickets to the Empire State Building, 2 days of hop-on, hop-off bus service, including a night tour, Brooklyn and Bronx tours, a hop-on, hop-off ferry ticket + 2 museums for $63/adult and $54/child when you use code FREETOURS15.

Main Deck and Top Deck (86th and 102nd Floors)

  • $54 Adult
  • $51 Seniors
  • $47 Children 6-12
  • children under 6 free
  • VIP Entry to skip the lines $80 per person 

Sunrise from the 86th Floor 

  • $100 per person, regardless of age.
  • This ticket if for 5:30 am. Slots are limited to 100 visitors each day.
  • These tickets sell out in advance so be sure to book several weeks ahead of your trip

Premium Experience (86th and 102nd Floors)

  • $175 per person, regardless of age
  • 90-minute, guided tour with an Empire State Building Observatory Ambassador
  • maximum of seven persons per tour
  • includes VIP priority access throughout the visit
  • a commemorative souvenir photograph

Purchasing tickets – Three methods of buying tickets exist:

1) You can purchase tickets directly through their website .   

2) From a street sales agents. These are ticket sellers who may approach you when you are near the building entrance. Bear in mind that many are not employed by the Empire State Building Observatory.

3) You can purchase your tickets inside the Empire State Building.

When you enter the lobby from 5th Avenue, take a moment to take in the beautiful Art Deco design made from imported marble from Germany, France, Belgium and Italy. If you already purchased your tickets, you can take the elevator up right away.

If you have not, take the escalator on your right side up to the ticket booths. Once you get the tickets you will walk through some featured exhibitions and then take up the first elevators to the 80th Floor. The elevator ride will take 60 seconds. To avoid standing in line for the second elevator again, you might have the option to walk up the 6 flights of stairs and get your little work out.

TIP: Be sure to read other travelers’ experiences for helpful tips on visiting.


Other Attractions Near the Empire State Building


Al Smith, the skyscraper race, and the audacity to do grand things

New York Empire State buildingTwo men were especially important in the construction of the Empire State Building. The first was William Frederick Lamb, the designer of the building – a Brooklynite who had studied Beaux Art architecture in Paris.  The other man was former New York Governor Alfred E. Smith, who was the chairman of the construction company. Alfred Smith had born witness to daring construction projects, such as the the Brooklyn Bridge or the NY mass transit system.  His confident attitude reflected the spirit of an era that was quickly being replaced during the Great Depression. As an Irish-Catholic himself, he ordered the symbolic start of the construction to be March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day.

About 3,400 workers mostly European immigrants and Mohawk iron workers from the Montreal area finished the construction in less than 14 months. When the Empire State building with its 1250 feet (381 m) was completed in 1931 it stood tallest building for 40 years, surpassing the Chrysler Building, as well as 40 Wall Street Building in height, once the spike was added to the final structure.


Fun Facts

  • The Empire State Building takes up a whole city block and has its own zip code 10118.
  • The Waldorf Astoria Hotel used to stand on that city block.
  • It was one time called the 8th Wonder of the modern world.
  • It was also called Empty State Building, due to lack of renters in the first 2 decades.
  • The total floor space would cover 21 city blocks.
  • 57,000 tons of steel were used to build it.
  • In 1964 floodlights were added to illuminate the top at night. Different colors are used to celebrate important holidays and events.
  • Recent sustainability leadership and the energy efficiency makeover will save $4.4 million per year.
  • In 2012 floodlights were exchanged with LED fixtures, which added 16 million colors to the formerly 9 available colors.
  • Every year the Empire Building Run-up lets participant climb up the 1,576 steps. The record to climb the 86th floors is held by an Australian who did this in less than 10 minutes.