on January 1, 2008
The Empire State Building is one of the New York skyline's most famous landmarks. It is a limestone classic, built in 410 days at a cost of $40 million during the Depression. I always think of it as the vertical perch off which King Kong was knocked.When it was completed in 1931, this was the tallest building in the world. Now it is the tallest in Manhattan. It is 1,450 feet high, used 60,000 tonnes of steel and has 6,500 windows (all of which have to be washed).It is not the most beautiful skyscraper in the city - the Chrysler Building wins this, but it is definitely the most iconic. At night it looks beautiful, bathed in lighting chosen the reflect the season or holiday.We bought our tickets in advance on-line - highly recommended as it saved us about 45 minutes queuing to buy them. We paid $19 each, under 5's are free. You still have to queue to go through security and for the lifts, but you skip the long lines waiting for tickets. Be sure to show the staff you have your tickets, otherwise they just let you line up anyway.The lifts go to the 86th floor observation deck where there is an outdoor viewing area. Be prepared for the crowds - even on a Friday morning it was so crushed and packed up there you could hardly move. The views are good though and it's fun to look down at all the shorter skyscrapers reaching up to you. You get an 80 mile view from the top.As well as the Empire State Building, there are other sights of interest not too far away. The New York Public Library is a short walk away. It is an impressive building with 2 majestic stone lions out at the front - called Patience and Fortitude, and during our visit they were wearing holly garlands. The library building is 2 blocks long with 2 million books inside.Grand Central Station is also not far away. Definitely go there as it is so beautiful. Built in 1913, this was the gateway to New York, with trains arriving from all directions. It has been beautifully restored. The Main Concourse has a 4 sided clock in the centre, 2 grand staircases and on the high vaulted ceiling is a blue and gold mural depicting the night sky.At Christmas time in Grand Central they have a holiday lights laser show on the ceiling every 15 minutes. It is quite pretty and interesting to watch.There are also lots of lovely little shops in the walkways and a great food market. During December they also have a Christmas Market - the stalls all have lots of lovely trinkets, Christmas ornaments and great ideas for gifts and souvenirs. We loved it there and ended up spending a small fortune.
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