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Empire State Building: Must-See in NYC 

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In an Empire State of mind? Get to know an NYC icon beyond its street views and tower lights. Facts, figures, and everything you need to know before planning this staple New York City experience – right here. Get answers to all your questions about the Empire State Building and plan a visit soon! 

Ride up to the 86th-floor or 102nd-floor decks, go on guided tours, dine, or shop – there’s something for everyone at the Empire State Building. One of Manhattan’s must-visit attractions is no ordinary skyscraper, and you can learn more about the iconic NYC landmark on a quick visit to the building. Here’s all you need to know about the history and things to do at Empire State Building: 

Book your tickets to the most breathtaking views of New York City and experience a slice of the city’s rich history and culture. Midtown Manhattan awaits with more NYC attractions you can’t miss. But first, book an affordable parking space near Empire State Building for a stress-free city tour. 

save up to 60% on city parking spot booking on way.comSee: 3 Simple Ways to Find Cheap Parking in NYC

Why is Empire State Building so famous? 

It’s impossible to picture the NYC skyline without the Empire State Building, and its fame reaches every corner of the world. Since its opening in 1931, the Midtown Manhattan skyscraper has symbolized the country’s economic strength and technological prowess. The art-deco architectural marvel inspires many worldwide; the fact that they built it in just over 13 months also helps. It is still one of the tallest and most recognizable buildings globally. And the millions of visitors flocking to its observatories make it a top tourist attraction. 

The Manhattan landmark is also a pop culture icon – first put under the spotlight by the movie King Kong in 1933. Since then, the skyscraper has starred in countless movies, TV shows, and artworks. It’s also a celebrity hotspot, with many stars visiting the building and its observatories for events and other occasions. This brings our attention to the famous Tower Lights that have also become a quintessential New York attraction. 

Empire State Building Facts & Figures 

Deriving its name from NYC’s nickname, the Empire State Building was the world’s first skyscraper to have 100+ floors, and it held the distinction for four decades. Here are some more interesting facts about the architectural wonder: 

  • The Fifth Avenue site was first developed in 1893 for the Waldorf–Astoria Hotel. It was later demolished. 
  • The skyscraper’s design was changed 15 times to make it the world’s tallest. 
  • Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon designed the building in the art-deco style. 
  • Construction began on March 17, 1930, and the building officially opened 13 months later, on May 1, 1931. 
  • Despite the building’s popularity, Empire State, Inc. did not break even until the 1950s. 
  • Approx. Four million tourists visit the 102nd and 86th-floor observatories annually. 
  • Empire State Building appears in more than 250 TV series and movies. 
  • American Society of Civil Engineers named it one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Modern World.’ 
  • The building and its ground floor are designated New York City and National historic landmarks. 
  • Empire State Building has its own ZIP Code – 10118 
  • Only 86 floors are usable and contain commercial and office space. The rest are part of the spire, with the observatory on the 102nd floor.  
  • A lightning rod and several broadcast antennas cover the building’s pinnacle. On average, lightning hits the Empire State Building 25 times annually.  


What is the Empire State Building height? 

As of 2022, Empire State is the 7th tallest building in NYC, at 1250 ft. (381 m). But if you count in the spire and the antenna, the official height goes up to 1454 ft. (443 m). The pinnacle is 203-foot (61.9 m) tall. 

  • The 102-story Empire State Building was the world’s tallest until 1970 when the first World Trade Center tower surpassed it.  
  • After 9/11, it became the tallest building in NYC again until 2012. 
  • It is now the 54th tallest building in the world 

How many steps and elevators? 

You could climb 1,872 steps to the 102nd-floor observatory. But no need to worry about that unless you are participating in the Empire State Building Annual Run-Up. The building has 73 elevators to make the climb easier.  

Who owns the Empire State Building? 

Empire State Realty Trust 

ESRT is a Real Estate Investment Trust with Anthony Malkin as its Chairman, President, and CEO. The shareholders of the publicly-traded trust own the Empire State Building and the land under it. Though it’s prime real estate, much income comes from licensing fees and tourism.  

History of ownership 

  • 1929 – John Jakob Raskob (former GM executive), Coleman du Pont, Pierre S. du Pont, Louis G. Kaufman, and Ellis P. Earle formed Empire State, Inc. 
  • Alfred E. Smith (former New York governor) was the head of the corporation 
  • 1961 – Lawrence A. Wien, Peter L. Malkin, and Harry B. Helmsley spent $65 million to buy the building (land not included).  
  • It’s the highest price ever for a single building – approx. $557 million today 
  • 1994 – Hideki Yokoi acquired the land under Empire State Building for $42 million and later transferred it to Trump Empire State Partners. 
  • 2002 – Peter L. Malkin- led Empire State Land Associates bought the land for $57.5 million. 

Find out more about Empire State Building history here


Does anyone live in the Empire State building? 

The Empire State Building does not have any apartments or hotels, but since 2018 a suite of rooms has been open to visitors for a hotel-like experience at the ‘world’s most famous building.’ 

So yes, you can stay in the Empire State Building for about $1500 a night. The hotel-style suites are on the 77th floor, but it’s more than just the views. You can experience the building’s history, glamor, and cultural impacts on the city.  

Can you go inside the Empire State Building? 

Open to visitors 365 days, in all weather, including holidays – there are many things to do at the Empire State Building whether you are a New Yorker or a tourist. 

The observatories take the spotlight because the city views from the 86th or higher on the 102nd floors are unmatched. But did you know an All Access Tour will give you much more? Premium experiences like VIP proposal packages and Sunrise at ESB are also available.  

The 2nd and 80th floors have exhibits showcasing the history of the Empire State Building and New York City culture. You’ll also find shops and restaurants in the building. Lunch or Dinner at the State Grill & Bar is popular, while Tacombi is a more casual dining experience with tacos and cold beer. Starbucks has a coffee workshop/innovation bar at the Empire State Building.  

Find out more about Empire State Building restaurants and shops here. 

Is it free to go up the Empire State building? 

You’ll need a ticket to visit the Empire State Building observation decks and exhibits. All tickets and packages can be booked online on the official website. Group tickets and NYC City Passes are also available. The lines to the Observation Decks are usually quite long; an express pass or exclusive experiences can help you skip it.  

  • Tickets can also be purchased onsite from kiosks on the 2nd floor; cash and cards are accepted. 
  • Valid only for the date and time you have chosen; no re-entry unless you have City/Night pass. 
  • Group bookings are available for groups larger than 20 people. 

Find out how much it costs to go into Empire State Building below: 

Ticket Prices 

  • Main Deck – 86th Floor: Starting at $44 (Adult), $38 (Child), $42 (Senior) 
  • Top Deck – 102nd & 86th Floors: Starting at $79 (Adult), $73 (Child), $77 (Senior) 
  • VIP All Access Tour: $500 per person 
  • VIP Premium Experience: $175 (90-minute guided tour limited to 7 visitors per group) 
  • Sunrise at ESB: $135 (only 40 visitors per day) 
  • VIP Express Pass Add-on – 86th Floor: Starting $84 per ticket 
  • Night Pass: Starting at $64 (Adult), $54 (Child) 
  • Express Pass – 86th and 102nd Floor: Starting at $119 
  • AM/PM Experience: Starting at $64 (Adult), $54 (Child) 
  • Propose at ESB: $1000 per couple 

You might find lower ticket rates online; make sure you purchase passes and packages from authorized websites only.  

Buy Empire State Building tickets and see more details here. 

Woman using binoculars on Empire State Building

Is it better to go to the Empire State Building at night or day? 

The official website recommends visiting between 12 pm and 2 pm, right after the morning rush, to avoid the crowds. After 8 pm is also a good choice; you’ll get the best views to share with comparatively fewer visitors.  

If you are on a New York City tour, visit the Empire State Building after 8 pm before a night out in the Big Apple; plenty of restaurants and other attractions are nearby to plan a memorable evening.  

Empire State Building Hours:  

  • Jan 2 – 22: 10 am – 9 pm (Last Elevator – 8:15 pm) 
  • Jan 23 – Feb 15: 11 am – 9 pm (Last Elevator – 8:15 pm) 
  • Feb 16 – 17: 11 am – 10 pm (Last Elevator – 9:15 pm) 
  • 18 – 20: 10 am – 10 pm (Last Elevator – 9:15 pm) 
  • 21 – 28: 10 am – 9 pm (Last Elevator – 8:15 pm) 
  • Mar 1 – 10: 10 am – 10 pm (Last Elevator – 9:15 pm) 
  • 11 – 31: 10 am – 11 pm (Last Elevator – 10:15 pm) 
  • Apr 1 – May 9: 9 am – 11 pm (Last Elevator – 10:15 pm) 
  • May 10 – Jul 20: 9 am- 12 am (Last Elevator – 11:15 pm) 
  • Jul 21 – Aug 27: 9 am – 1 am (Last Elevator – 12:15 am) 
  • Aug 28 – Sep 4: 9 am – 12 am (Last Elevator – 11:15 pm) 
  • Oct 9 – Nov 22 (Mon to Thu): 10 am – 10 pm (Last Elevator – 9:15 pm) 
  • Oct 9 – Nov 22 (Fri to Sun): 9 am – 10 pm (Last Elevator – 9:15 pm) 
  • Nov 23 – 26: 9 am – 11 pm (Last Elevator – 10:15 pm) 
  • Nov 27 – Dec 21 (Mon to Thu): 10 am – 10 pm (Last Elevator – 9:15 pm) 
  • Nov 27 to Dec 21 (Fri to Sun): 9 am – 1 am (Last Elevator – 12:15 am) 
  • Dec 22 – 30: 9 am – 1 am (Last Elevator – 12:15 am) 
  • Dec 31: 9 am – 11 pm (Last Elevator – 10:15 pm) 

Get more tips for visitors and FAQs here

Where is the Empire State Building? 

The iconic New York City skyscraper is in Manhattan’s Midtown South, on Fifth Avenue between W 33rd and 34th streets.  

It’s less than a mile from the Grand Central Terminal; 15 minutes on foot, or a 5-minute drive. Times Square is also a 15-minute walk from Empire State Building. Several other NYC attractions are within walking distance if you are planning a Midtown tour. Herald Square Macy’s, and Koreatown are minutes away. You’ll find Murray Hill restaurants and the East River waterfront to the east. Hudson Yards are to the west. 

Use the map below to plan your route: 

Where is the entrance? 

Visitors’ entrance to observation deck access is at 20 W 34th Street. The Fifth Avenue lobby was used before August 2018. Other entrances on 33rd and 34th streets are reserved for tenants and their guests.  

How to Get There 

Empire State Building is on the west side of Fifth Avenue; the closest subway station is 34th Street/Herald Square. It’s one block west from the 34th Street entrance. Two blocks to the east, you’ll also find the 33rd Street station on Park Avenue. The nearest PATH Station is at 33rd Street on 6th Avenue.  


123/ACE lines – Exit at 34th Street/ Penn Station and walk 5 minutes to Empire State Building 

NQRW or BDFM lines – Exit at 34th Street/Heral Square Station; also a 5-minute walk 

456 or 7 lines – Exit at Grand Central Terminal; it’s a 10-15-minute walk 


34th Street & 5th Ave is across from the visitor’s entrance. QM10, QM12, QM15, and QM16 stop here. BxM18, X27, X28, X37, and X38 also stop near the building. 


Parking in New York City is one of the biggest challenges most visitors face; even New Yorkers prefer public transportation to avoid the high garage rates and peak traffic troubles. However, if you need to drive, pre-book a parking spot. Visitor parking is unavailable onsite; the nearest garage is on 33rd Street. 

You’ll need at least a few hours to visit the Empire State Building. Remember, you may have to wait in line to enter the observation decks without an Express Pass. So, plan your parking time accordingly. Parking for longer durations is usually cheaper at Manhattan garages; hourly rates can set you back by at least $10-$20.  

Empire State Building lights night street view

See: New York City Parking Guide: How to find parking in NYC

How to find Empire State Building parking? 

Drive-up rates are expensive anywhere in Manhattan. So, book parking near Empire State Building when you buy your tickets. Even if it’s not a planned visit and you just want to see the building while visiting nearby attractions, try to avoid parking on the streets. Leaving your car in a safe and affordable garage before exploring the city on foot is best. 

Use NYC parking apps and websites to find cheap rates at Midtown garages and lots near Empire State Building. Most parking operators offer special rates and discounts on online reservations. 

Is there any cheap parking near Empire State Building? 

106 West 30th Street Garage offers hourly spots for $20 when you pre-book a spot here. But parking longer will cost you only $32 for 6 hours and $50 for 12-24 hours. The covered self-park facility is open 24×7 and is only 0.3 miles or a 10-minute walk from Empire State Building. You can leave your car at this garage for the whole day and visit all the NYC attractions in the neighborhood without worrying about time limits and parking tickets. 

See: How to Find Parking Garages in NYC Next to Top Attractions

Don’t let NYC parking leave you in a tight spot – the Way out is right here on your phone! Book the best parking spots anywhere in your city at unbelievably cheap rates.

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