In 1930, construction began on the Empire State Building (ESB). At a rate of four-and-a-half stories a week, ESB’s construction lasted a little over a year, and it opened on May 1, 1931, when President Hoover illuminated the building’s lights. Now a spot of New York’s skyline still shines with the bright lights of ESB, but now they are the lights of modern technology. One of the lesser known points of interest in ESB is the Sustainability exhibit. Located on the second floor, the Sustainability exhibit (featuring a multi-media tour) shows visitors how new technology has been installed to make the building more efficient. Another exhibit, Dare to Dream, is located on the 80th floor along with the gift shop Empire: The Store.
Visit ESB’s observatories to get a panoramic view of the New York skyline. The 86th floor observatory is an open-air observation deck. (Restrooms are also on this floor.) Use the high-powered binoculars to zoom in on the city’s action below. Venture to the observation deck on the 102nd floor for another stellar view. Atop the building are 130 radio antennas. The highest antenna is for broadcasting; in the United States, 6.5% of television households rely on this antenna for their TV signals! Since ESB is so tall, it acts as a lightning rod. It isn’t unusual for the building to be struck over twenty times a year! Check the website esbnyc.com for information including what color the lights will be during your visit or to see the schedule of the saxophonist who plays there in the evening.
Open every day from 8 am to 2 am, ESB admits tourists at the 5th Avenue entrance. Tickets can be purchased at the building or online. Ticket prices range from $26 to $52, depending on one’s age and which floors will be visited. The last elevator up departs at 1:15 am.