New York: The Empire State Building

Of the thousands of pictures I took in the entire trip, it is this picture from the top of the Empire State Building I liked the best. So, I just gotta put it up as the first picture of this post. I just simply love the twinkly glitter of the entire landscape and have used this as a wallpaper on my computers. I know … it is so busy that it makes a lousy wallpaper. I even have a difficult time locating my icons on it! Who cares … I like it.

See the bright spot on the top left? Guess where that is.

What I like to tell people is that this is taken hand held. I find it amazing that it came up so sharp that I can even make out the cars and road markings on the street. Go on … click on the picture and see it in higher resolution.

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I was pretty excited about making the visit to the highest building in New York. As you all well know, the Empire State Building had been the highest building in NYC since September 11, 2001. This 102 story building was also the tallest building in the world from 1931 and 1970 — which also meant that it held the world tallest title for the longest time.

I got to the base of the building about an hour before sunset. This will be the high point (pun unintended) of my first day in New York City. Frankly, looking for the building is dead easy. All other buildings around it looked so short compared to it.

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The Empire State Building was built at the height of the Great Depression. I was amazed to learn that it was built in just 13 months. When it was completed and since the US was in deep recession, the building stood empty for sometime. They built it because it provided jobs but ended up with the nickname of the Empty State Building.

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I went on a Friday night and just before dinner time for most people. So there were not many people there. Despite that, it took me 20-30 minutes to get to the top. To get the observation deck, I had to go through lines after lines.

First, it was to get into line to purchase the ticket. I dutifully lined up not realizing until I got to the counter that for CityPass holders, we could skip this line and head straight to the next line.

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Then it was this other line right after the ticket booths. Looking at the way the snaking lines were setup, I sure was glad I picked a good time to come. It was later that I learn it will take up to 3 hours on weekends to get up to the deck. Oh man … oh man …

You know, on a busy day, you could opt for what they call their express line … that is $30 bucks extra! Without the CityPass, the normal line is $25 … with express, it’s $55. Can you believe that? I guess there are people who will pay that kind of money but certainly not me. Remember … if you plan to go on a weekend where all the out of town tourists converge to the Big Apple, plan to come way, way early.

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Oh … that $25 ($55 express) only brings you to the 86th floor observation deck. You want to get to the top, 102nd floor? That will be another $14 please. ๐Ÿ™‚ I only went up to the 86th floor. Anyway, I was told that the 102nd floor is cramped and is fully enclosed with glass. That means that I won’t be able to take good shots from there. 86th Floor is good enough for me.

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Oh the Empire State Building people sure know how to fleece more money from you. We had to make a stop on the 80th floor first.

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This is where they herded everyone, like cattle literally, to line-up and take fake portraits of you on the Empire State Building. Then they try to push you to get the audio guide and a map. For holders of CityPass, the audio guide was included.

You know, I think the Empire State Building makes all its money from the visitors, not office rentals.

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The below is the view of the pinnacle of the tower. That is where the ($14 extra) 102nd floor observation desk is. Back in the 1920s, this spire was designed as a mooring mast for airships but it was never used because of high-wind.

When I was there, it was very very cold and blustery. I only had a light jacket on.

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I had a great time taking pictures. It was time consuming because for one, there are a lot of people around at the fence on the observation terrace. I also want to listen to the audio guide as I made a complete round the deck.

Taking pictures in falling light is also difficult. Although I had brought along my tripod, using it proved to be impossible. So I had resorted to just handheld shots propped on the fence.

Here are some of the better shots I had made. The Flatiron Building. This unique historical building tapers off to the intersection to just a width of 6 feet and was once one of the highest building in NYC. At the time it was built, it had first employed the technique that is so commonly used today in tall building construction … steel frames.

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This is the southward view of Lower Manhattan … downtown New York. Before 9-11, this is where the Twin Towers dominates the view of the harbour. The Twin Towers were twice as tall of the tallest buildings in the cluster of buildings here. So, just imagine the view it was just six years ago.

I will have a lot to blog about Lower Manhattan over the next 3 weeks.

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From the south eastern view from the Empire State was the Manhattan Bridge and the famous Brooklyn bridge. I will also have a blog entry dedicated to the Brooklyn bridge later on.

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The brightest spot of in all of the night view of New York City undoubtedly belongs to the amazing Times Square. The view of Time Square is obscured by building around it but you can’t miss the brightness of the area.

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Then there is the World’s Largest Store … Macy’s. Macy’s is located just minutes walking distance away from the Empire State Building. I did not go to Macy’s at all during this trip.

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Hope you enjoyed this tour of the Empire State Building with me. It is a must visit place but do plan your visit well. Other than the Statue of Liberty, this is the most popular tourist spot in NYC.

This Post Has 0 Comments

  1. Rajiv

    Ben,
    Photo #1 is a beauty!!
    Nice work.

  2. chilly

    Awesome pictures and postings on New York!
    Thank you!

  3. Chubbypanda

    Well done. I’ve got photo envy.

    Have you thought about picking up a collapsible monopod? It’s more versatile than a tripod, packs away less conspicuously, and provides that extra bit of stability for low light shots. You just need to practice with it a bit.

    I still prefer my tripod, but I borrowed my friend’s monopod for a week once and really liked it.

  4. M Hinds

    Take it from an Urban Planner……some very nice pictures

    ๐Ÿ™‚

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