In 1930s America, on St. Patrick’s day (March 17th) a team of workmen in Manhattan, New York embarked on what was to become the world’s tallest building for almost half a century onwards. The Empire State building was to join the Chrysler and 40 Wall Street buildings in a fight to become the tallest building on the planet.
410 days and almost $41 million later, construction of the Empire State Building finished. The time it took to complete remains a record for a building of its height to this very day. It was officially announced open on May 1st 1931, when the US President at the time Herbert Hoover switched on its many thousands of lights. Today the building is celebrated for its early 20th century Art Deco style and with public tours of its floors. On days when the weather permits, visitors can see the states of Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and NY from the building’s observatory on its 86th floor.
Not only is the Empire State Building one of the seven wonders of the modern world but it has also been hailed as a National Historic Landmark, giving testament to the seven million man hours it took to build, and the incredible race for the title of world’s tallest building, which was such an incredible feat at the time.
The Empire State Building was built on 5th avenue in the metropolitan New York borough of Manhattan. Fifth avenue itself is home to some of the world’s most prestigious shopping centres and stores, such as Saks, Gucci and Banana Republic.
As the Empire State Building is located in one of the most popular tourist destinations in the US, it attracts a huge number of tourists during both the summer and winter seasons (New York is particularly atmospheric at Christmas time). Fifth avenue also runs along Central Park’s eastern edge, meaning visitors to the Empire State Building can see the park in its entirety from the observatory on floor 86.
Empire State Building visitor tours are jam packed with facts, so we won’t spoil it for you completely. We can, however, tell you that there is an incredible 1860 steps to the 102nd (topmost) floor. Don’t worry though, you won’t have to climb them as there are elevators and escalators taking visitors to the most important floors of the building. You won’t be able to visit the very summit of the building, as this is 443 metres above ground level and marked by the top of the lightning rod. This metal structure gets hit by bolts of lightning approximately 100 times every year, protecting the surrounding buildings and area of New York from being hit during electrical storms.
How to Get There:
The easiest way to get to New York is to fly to one of its three airports. The John F Kennedy (JFK) airport in Queens is the biggest and is the most likely to provide flights to and from your destination. From there, take a taxi ($45 not including tip), Express Shuttle Bus or the New York City subway. The latter two will cost you just $2.00 to and from the centre of the City. From there you can take a taxi or bus from your hotel, or walk around the city to see the other sights at the same time.
To visit the Empire State Building itself you will need to buy tickets for entry, which range from $15 to $20.50 depending on your age. However, if you’re part of the military and are in uniform you go free, as do toddlers under the age of five. If you wish to visit the observatory as well then you will need to pay an extra $15.
Where to Stay:
The range and diversity of hotels and accommodation in Manhattan is large. If you’re looking to really splash out for a luxury stay then try the five star Lowell Hotel just off 5th avenue where double rooms range in price from $850.00 to $1650 per night. For a mid-range but stylish and comfortable hotel try The Crowne Plaza in Times Square (1605 Broadway) from $299 to $899 per night. Good budget hotels include The Jane Hotel where rooms start at just $99, or the trendy ‘Ace Hotel’ right near Madison Square Park.
There are hundreds of taxis in Manhattan, but prices depend on where you stay and where you go. Ask your hotel receptionist how much a fare to the Empire State Building is, or whether you can buy an all-day bus pass to see other sights. There are taxis or buses to the nearest subway station; the subway is generally the cheapest form of transportation in New York.