A View from the Top: Observations & Facts of One of the World’s Most Iconic Buildings


Silfies’ kids high in the sky

I had the pleasure this past week of playing the role of tourist in New York City.  Although my company’s headquarters are a mere 30 miles away from Manhattan and I am in the city frequently, I rarely wander in to marvel at the city that never sleeps.

For quite some time my kids have asked and pleaded to go to top of the Empire State Building to view New York City and its five boroughs.  Since I have been in the Empire State Building numerous times for business meetings I never really had much of an interest in going there as a tourist.  After the one millionth request, I finally succumbed to the pressure of three clamoring kids and agreed to go.

Full disclosure: I have never visited the building’s observation deck.

Once we got to the Empire State Building I discovered there are clearly two audiences: 1) business persons and 2) visitors; and the staff and immediately area treat both very distinctively.    Since on this occasion I was a tourist I will provide you with some thoughts, observations and facts about this iconic building from a non-CRE professional.

  • The waiting (including line queues), admission and process of going to the 86th floor observation deck are very similar to those experienced at Disney World.  I actually think Space Mountain’s wait time is less.
  • Fact: the Empire State Building stands 1,454 feet, nearly 3x that of the Washington Monument, 555 feet.  (The Washington Monument is another iconic building I plan on visiting over the next month).
  • Several romantic movies have their climax take place on the roof of the Empire State Building, such as: An Affair to Remember and Sleepless in Seattle.  Oh the power of movie magic.  These movies make it seem like you can scurry into the lobby and quickly rise to the top where you will then be greeted by the love of your life and no one else.  Au contraire, it take a minimum 30-45 minutes to get up top and then the observation deck is extremely crowded.
  • Fact: the building was built in 1931 and took only 13 months to construct.
  • The views from the top are outstanding.  On a clear day it provides stunning views.  Who knew that it is 8 miles from the George Washington Bridge to the Empire State Building? I am sure many do, but the view from the Empire State Building makes the GWB seem only a stone’s throw away.
  • Fact: the Empire State Building houses 2.85 million rentable square feet
  • We climbed the last six floors to the 86th floor observation deck.  That was a little exhausting.  I can’t imagine climbing the 103 floors in the building (1,872 steps) as they do for the annual Empire State Building run-up.
  • Fact: King Kong never climbed the Empire State Building.  That’s just movie fiction.

So there you have it, if you haven’t yet done so plan a trip to the ESB, you won’t be disappointed to see a truly mixed use building in action.  Just plan ahead to avoid the waiting.


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