Tourist Tuesday: NYC Mel and the Empire State Building

Melanie Unplugged Empire State Building

I LOVE city skyline views!

I don’t know why exactly, but they just make me happy. When I lived in Utah, I used to drive up to the highest points I could find to park and stare at the city lights. I’m pretty sure a lot of people who saw my car thought I was there making out with someone. Nope, just me, sitting by myself, looking at the lights. Is that weird?

At any rate, some people love going into the woods to find their center and get grounded, and while I love that too, for me, awe looks most like a cluster of steel and bricks reaching the sky.

Lucky for me, I happen to live in New York—land of skyscrapers! My dad flew out with me to New York when I moved here in February. He’d never been to the city, and was only supposed to be in town for 24 hours (it turned into 36 when we were late getting to the airport and he missed his flight. Ooops!) so we hit up a few of the key tourist attractions, one of which was the Empire State Building.

Me and Dad on the Empire State Building
Now, you have to remember, this was February 5 in New York City. In other words, it was cold outside! And when it’s cold out on the street, it’s REALLY cold 1,050 feet up in the air on the 86th floor observation deck of the Empire State Building. We wandered around and looked out the windows for awhile and then ventured outside.

Chrysler Building from the Empire State Building

Look at that city! Seriously, 15° or not, what’s not to love about that view? In my home office in Utah, I actually had a huge picture collage of almost this exact scene, so it was fun to capture it for myself.

About a month ago I had an impromptu opportunity to visit the Empire State Building again, but this time in the warmth of August, and at night.

Yes, please!

I was worried because it looked like the observation deck would be all hemmed in by fog, but luck was on our side, and we had a clear view to see for miles.

Empire State Building

You wind around for quite a bit once you get inside the building. The ticket office is a few floors up, and then you walk past gift shops, and people taking your picture in front of a backdrop, and a bunch of pictures and facts about the building. There is also a booth where people are selling self-guided audio tours. They were asking $10, but my friend offered $5 and they took it. (I had no idea you could negotiate stuff like that. I guess you can negotiate anything.) We split the headphones and walked from point to point learning about the different buildings and bridges in view. I thought it was totally worth the $5. I’m an info geek though. And it was even more worth it since it wasn’t MY $5 and I just got to reap the benefits. The whole thing plays on an iPod Touch, so if you’re there with a group, I’m pretty sure you can all pass it around and reap the benefits of it. It’s just a little something to add to the experience.

Empire State Building at Night 8/7/13

Ahhhhh! Seriously! Look at that!

Ok, I’m done gushing now.

There are tons of fun facts about the Empire State Building and it’s construction. (Seriously, did I mention what an info geek I am? I love learning stuff like this.) Here are a few highlights:

It cost $40,948,900 to build in 1931 (equal to roughly $500,000,000 in 2010).

It’s 1,453 feet, 8 9/16 inches tall to the tip of the broadcast tower.

• Construction was supposed to take 18 months, but due to efficiencies in construction, the Empire State Building was completed ahead of schedule and only took one year and 45 days. I swear I read on a display that at one point construction was being completed at the rate of one floor a day. Can anyone back me up on that?

Empire State Building Tower

• That tower at the top of the building was originally supposed to be used for docking blimps. The idea was that they could then let passengers out and have them WALK ACROSS A PLANK into the building. What? Who’s brilliant idea was it to have people a plank from a blimp 102 floors up? It turns out it gets pretty windy that high up, and thankfully that idea was scrapped.

It was the tallest building in the world from 1931-1972.

• The construction workers didn’t have time to climb all the way down and back up for lunch, so there were food concessions every few floors during the construction process. (Of course learning about how they ate was important to me.)

• They change the lights on the building to support different causes, holidays, events, etc. There’s a schedule online that shows what the lights mean on any given night. Do you think I could apply to have them light up for me one night? The night I was there, the building was all purple. I thought it was National Barney day, but apparently it was actually in honor of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and National Purple Heart Day. I guess that’s a worthy cause.

I’m still pretty torn on whether I like the day or the night view better. What I really wish is that I could just go up there any ol’ time I want and get my bearings. I wonder if they’re hiring.


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