PHOTOS: See the views from the Empire State Building’s new 102nd-floor observatory

October 11, 2019

View looking north, with Central Park and the towers that dot Billionaires’ Row clearly visible; Photo courtesy of Empire State Realty Trust

After four years and $165 million, the revamp of New York City’s first supertall is nearly complete, bringing a more contemporary and visitor-friendly experience to one of the world’s most historic buildings. The Empire State Building’s 102nd-floor observatory, which boasts 360-degree panoramic views at 1,250 feet above street level, officially opens to the public on Saturday, Oct. 12. Building owner Empire State Realty Trust redesigned the observatory to be less obstructive for guests, allowing more picture-perfect views and less time waiting.

Guests on their way up to the 102nd floor get a never-before-seen look at the inside of the tower’s mast while riding in an all-glass elevator from the 86th floor. Otis, the company that supplied the Art Deco building’s original elevators when it opened in 1931, provided a new Gen2 elevator for those 16 stories to the top. The enclosed top-floor observatory features 24 floor-to-ceiling windows with 360-degree views of New York City and beyond.

Hudson Yards, New Jersey, Midtown and Lower Manhattan are all on display from the 102nd floor; Photo courtesy of Empire State Realty Trust

Southeast views provide a straight shot of One World Trade Center and the East River; Photo courtesy of Empire Realty Trust

Looking west, even the skyscrapers at Hudson Yards look small from the observatory; Photo courtesy of Empire State Realty Trust

“The 102nd-floor Observatory is the crown jewel of the Empire State Building,” Anthony Malkin, Empire State Realty Trust Chair and CEO, said in a statement. “We’ve removed all the obstructions and obstacles, giving guests access to a view that is centrally-located and unrivaled in New York City.”

The redesigned observatory is the third phase of four of the tower’s overhaul, which involved creating a new observatory entrance on West 34th Street and an immersive museum on the second floor. And the entrance to the observatory was moved to 20 West 34th Street, reducing foot traffic by four million people annually on Fifth Avenue.

empire state building, observatory, history, 1920s

empire state building, observatory, history, 1920s
Photos by Evan Joseph for Empire Realty Trust

A 10,000-square-foot museum designed by Thinc Design (the firm behind the 9/11 Memorial & Museum exhibits) opened in July and lets guests meander through the space, which helps eliminate lines. The path of the new exhibit, along with a new digital ticketing system, shortens the waiting and security check process, while strengthening the relationship visitors make with the skyscraper.

The exhibit explores the history of the Empire State Building, from its construction to its current state as a destination for A-listers and modern office space. Guests are surrounded by an animation of ironworkers shouting to each other and tossing hot rivets overhead, building models, and impressive black and white images.

The museum also features a 72-screen movie theater that shows a montage of 600 clips that highlight the use of the Empire State Building in pop culture, accompanied by an original score. A hallway with original King Kong posters and 4D elements bring the ape to life, inviting guests to take a photo in his giant hands.

Tickets to the observatory on the 86th floor cost $38. To get to the building’s pinnacle on the 102nd floor, it costs an additional $20. Other ticket packages are available for more, including a sunrise package for $115, an a.m./ p.m. experience for $55, and an all-access tour that includes a private escort and bottle of champagne for $460.


All photos courtesy of Empire State Realty Trust

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