VIP View From the Empire State Building

Things to Do, What's New — By sarahpruitt on August 18, 2010 at 8:20 pm

Afraid of heights? Then you’re probably not going to want to be one of the 3.5 million people who visit the Empire State Building every year – and you’re definitely not going to be fighting to join the much smaller group of VIPs who get admitted to the tiny outdoor viewing space on the 103rd floor of the famous skyscraper.

View from the 86th floor observatory, Empire State Building

For a recent article, reporter Scott Mayerowitz of ABC News got special access to the tiny balcony, which is set high above the main outdoor observation deck on the 86th floor and one floor higher than the smaller indoor area on the 102nd floor. His tour was aimed at publicizing a newly revamped visitor experience on the observation decks, including an improved lobby and larger waiting area where visitors can bide their time in air-conditioned comfort. In addition, the second floor visitors’ center now boasts a $2 million interactive, multi-media sustainability exhibit that details how the Empire State Building is being retrofitted to reduce energy usage.

After climbing a ladder and stepping out onto a three-foot ledge (guarded only by a not-even-waist-high barrier), Mayerowitz briefly enjoyed the “spectacular” view from the 103rd floor and posed for a picture before retreating to safety. Read more of his story (and get a unique view of the city with Diane Sawyer) at the ABC News website.

Regular visitors to the Empire State Building can expect to wait up to an hour and 15 minutes to get access to the observation decks, although it’s often much shorter, even in peak summer hours. Timesaving measures include advance purchase of the $20 ticket or paying $45 to bypass waiting in line altogether. (Those who want to visit the observatory on the 102nd floor must cough up another $15.) The main observation deck is open from 8:00 am to 2:00 am, seven days a week.

(Image courtesy of scalleja)

Tags: empire state building, manhattan, midtown, views

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