Empire State Building Observatory

No New York vacation would be complete without a visit to the Empire State Building. Ride to the top of the 86th-floor observation deck and take in the views with the New York Pass.

The New York Pass FREE ENTRY to The Empire State Building Observatory Normally $43.55 - Free with New York Pass

Synonymous with New York City, the Empire State Building is an American icon and one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Located in Midtown Manhattan, the views from its 86th-floor observation decks are unmissable.


Enjoy free entry to the Empire State Building with The New York Pass.

- Pay nothing at the door – simply show your pass.
- Head to the top and enjoy views of up to 80 miles on a clear day.
- Enjoy cutting-edge exhibits that detail the history of this iconic building.

Pass Perk

Skip the ticket line by presenting your pass at the General Admission turnstile, after passing security. Want VIP entry? Upgrade your access at any of the ticket kiosks to get expedited entry and access to the 112th floor at a discounted rate.

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- The Empire State Building history

- The Empire State Building highlights

- The Empire State Building facts

- What's On

- Know before you go

- Make the most of your New York Pass

- How to get there

The Empire State Building history

New York economy was booming in the late-1920s. And construction around the world was engaged in a race to reach the sky. The Eiffel Tower’s construction in 1889 inspired Americans to create something taller. The result was the Metropolitan Life Tower in 1909. The Woolworth Building then soared skyward in 1913. And both these buildings were later dwarfed by the Bank of Manhattan Building in 1929. The American Dream was now vertical in nature.


John Jackob Raskob, the former vice president of General Motors and New York governor, was determined to construct the most prominent skyscraper in the city. All the while, Walter Chrysler, founder of the Chrysler Corporation, was in the process of creating a monumental structure he called, “a monument to me”, the height of which he was keeping a secret. Both towers tried to best each other by adding more floors to their design. In August 1929, Raskob and former New York Governor Al Smith announced plans for the Empire State Building. This was the first time that Chrysler learnt that Raskob’s building would be 1,000 feet tall. Chrysler’s plan was to fix a stainless-steel spire to the top of his skyscraper, making it a record-breaking 1,048 feet. Unfortunately for Chrysler, this record wouldn’t be held for long. Raskob and Smith went back to the drawing board and returned with an even taller design for the Empire State Building, which, when completed in 1931, loomed 1,250 feet over the streets of Midtown Manhattan.

For nearly 40 years after its completion, the Empire State Building would remain the tallest building in the city.

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Empire State Building highlights

  •       Enjoy immersive experiences featured across the Empire State Building’s nine galleries. 
  •       Experience the dramatic views from the 82nd and 102nd floors. 
  •       Discover the compelling history of this iconic structure. 

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Empire State Building facts 

  • How tall is the Empire State Building? 1454 feet.
  • Four million people visit the Empire State Building every year
  • The building has its own zip code: 10118
  • Valentine’s Day is the only day that couples can get married on top of the Empire State Building
  • The Empire State Building was started and finished in just 20 months.
  • As many as 3,400 men worked on the building every day to assemble its skeleton in record time.
  • The Empire State Building recently received a refit that reduces energy costs by $4.4 million a year, while creating 252 jobs.
  • The 200-foot tower of the Empire State Building was originally designed as a docking point for airships – a terrifying prospect by today’s standards. The building owners, convinced that transatlantic airship travel was the transport of the future, wanted to use the mast as a docking port where it would “swing in the breeze” in wind speeds as high as 40 miles an hour. Passengers would exit and walk an open-air gangplank, check-in at a customs office and make their way to street level. Needless to say, this scheme never took off. The original docking level is now located one floor above the 102nd-floor observatory, up some steep steps behind an unmarked door.

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What’s On

Check out the immersive experiences featured across the Empire State Building’s nine galleries. Admission tickets ensure access to the new second-floor immersive exhibits; as well as entry to the iconic 360-degree view open air Observatory:

The Site in the 1920s

Starting at its very beginning, black and white photos show the empty site of the original Waldorf Astoria Hotel before the skyscraper’s construction began. Through building surveyors, Guests can look in and see the New York City streets of the late 1920s come to life in full color.


Step into the past with moving photographs based on the work of Lewis Hine. Visitors can also interact with specially commissioned cast sculptures of construction workers as they work and take their lunch break.

Modern Marvel

Creating a safe space for the environment is precisely what the building aims to achieve. The Modern Marvel exhibit outlines the specific measures taken to make the Empire State Building a world leader in sustainability.

Otis Elevators

Otis Elevators designed the original elevators for the 102 floors. Walk through a simulation of an actual elevator shaft in this dedicated exhibit. It showcases not only how the original elevators operated, but the latest technology installed in the newest. With more than 10 million tenants and Observatory Guests each year, these enduring machines are truly fascinating feats of engineering.

Urban Campus

Most visitors aren’t aware that the building houses tenants - from airline offices to tourist boards. The Urban Campus display offers a glimpse into some of the significant tenant spaces, amenities, and hidden views of the building.

World’s Most Famous Building

An original score has been created especially for the exhibit. Guests are free to explore the space, surrounded by more than seventy screens displaying ESB’s starring role in pop culture. These have been sourced from every decade since the 1930s with movie posters and clips. 

King Kong

Stroll into an office from the 1930s where the famous giant ape’s fingers reach through the walls. Just like the classic movie, he dangles from the building and dodges vintage bi-planes. Those feeling brave enough can step into Kong’s hands for the ultimate Instagram post. 


Many famous faces from around the world have graced the windy observatory atop the ESB. This exhibit highlights some of the most-famous visitors (athletes, musicians, actors) to the attraction. Their images and signed memorabilia adorn the walls. Guests can stop to admire these as they head to the elevators that will take them to their next stop: NYC: Above & Beyond on the 80th Floor.

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Know before you go

  •   The Empire State Building has a new entrance on 34th street, just for visitors to the Observatory. This larger entrance will help create a seamless flow and provide a fully modernized journey for all visitors.
  •   You can watch the Empire State on a live earthcam view.
  •   Don't miss the Empire State Building museum.

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Make the most of your New York Pass

  •   Beat the crowds: for more space and less waiting, plan your visit between 08.00 - 11.00.
  • Open until 2am – enjoy a stunning night panorama of the city.

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How to get there

Visit the Empire State Building website for more travel information.


For more things to do in London, check out The New York Pass® Blog.

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Getting to Empire State Building Observatory

Getting to Empire State Building Observatory

  • Empire State Building Observatory 20 West 34th Street (between 5th & 6th Avenue), New York, NY 10118
  • Closest Subway 34th Street/ Herald Square
  • Closest Bus Stop See map
  • Big Bus hop on hop off Tour Stops Stop 4 on Downtown route and stop 32 on Uptown route

Opening Times

Everyday 8:00am - 2:00am

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