history of the empire state building

History, Restaurants

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Today, the only thing you’ll be spending money on when you travel to the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building is the $50+ Observation Deck ticket. But back in the ’30s, it was a much more glamorous experience, complete with the Empire State Observatory Fountain and Tea Room.

The New York Public Library recently digitized 18,000 of its 40,000 restaurant menus, which range from 1851 to 2008, including this one from the Empire State Building in 1933. As you’ll see, sandwiches (ham, peanut butter, and tomato and lettuce, to name a few) were a mere 25 cents, the same price as their six types of ice cream sundaes and ten flavored sodas. In terms of actual food, your only choice other than a sandwich would’ve been a pretty blah-sounding salad, some pastries, or a selection of “candy and cigarettes.”

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