2015 Vacation Destinations: The Empire State Building, New York City

When I went to New York City with my parents in 1988, we visited the Empire State Building.  I not only enjoyed the view of the city, I was very impressed by the detail that went into the building.  This was a building that exists not just to be a place of business, but also to impress its visitors.  And it does this very well indeed.  So, when I started planning Alex and my 2015 vacation, I knew that I had to visit the Empire State Building again.

Additionally, my 1988 visit was in the evening and I took a picture of the shadow of the building stretching out over Manhattan.  I wanted to duplicate that photo on this trip, as well, so as to see how the city has changed over the last 27 years.

We went the same day as our trip to the Intrepid Museum and needed to get some rest and cool off a bit after all of the walking we’d done that day.  As a result, we ended up arriving at the observation deck of the Empire State Building about an hour later than it had been when we had been there in 1988.  I got the picture, though.  The 1988 picture was pretty overexposed, and so I attempted to fix it.  I’m still really new at this, so it’s probably not the best job ever, but it’s not too bad for a beginner.  I think.

Empire State Building, August 16, 1988, 5:00 p.m.
The view from the Empire State Building at around 5:00 p.m. on, near as I can figure, August 16, 1988.

Empire State Building, July 16, 2015 6:00 p.m.
The view from the Empire State Building at around 6:00 p.m. on July 16, 2015.

The groundbreaking of the Empire State Building was held on March 17, 1930 and the building was officially opened on May 1, 1931.  An additional 200 feet of height were added to the building so that it could serve as a docking station for airships (zeppelins, blimps, and similar craft).  However, as fate would have it, the airship was supplanted by another technology — the jet airplane — and the closest any airship ever got to docking at the Empire State Building was when an airship tied to the mast for three minutes in a high wind.  And, when it comes down to it, that was the downfall of the plan to use the Empire State Building as a docking station for airships.  The wind is too strong at that height.  However, the Empire State Corporation did get their extra 200 feet, and for over 40 years, from the opening of the building until September of 1973, when the Sears Tower opened, the Empire State Building was the tallest building in the world.

The Empire State Building is open from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 a.m.  Visiting the Empire State Building Experience website will give you the estimated time from the front doors to the 86th floor.  Visitors are required to take the elevator to and from the 80th floor, but from that point, visitors have a choice between taking the elevator and walking the last six stories.  My son and I chose to climb the stairs, and I think we may have climbed the stairs in 1988 as well.  For all I know, you get chilled champagne and a mani-pedi on the elevator between the 80th and 86th floors.  I don’t think I’ve ever been in it.

The Empire State Building is wheelchair-accessible.  There are areas of the 86th Floor observatory where the walls have been lowered to allow wheelchair users to enjoy the view.  As of this writing, the walls of the 102nd Floor observatory are high, but they are attempting to remedy that shortcoming.

2/4/2019 On or around November 28, 2018, I realized that I need to start monetizing this blog. To that end, I’m starting to put what I call Gratuitous Amazon Links into my posts. As of January 12, 2019, I’m going back to add GALs to my older posts. If I can’t find anything exactly on-topic to the post, I’m choosing from among the highest-rated items on the same topic as the post. For example, for a post on a park, I’ll search Amazon for books on parks and choose one of the ones with the highest reader ratings. Here is the GAL for this post:

Skyscrapers: A History of the World’s Most Extraordinary Buildings — Revised and Updated by Judith Dupre (Author), Adrian Smith (Introduction)

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