My family and I came to NYC for the first time back in December of 1997 (hellllooo high school!), and were on a mad journey to see what we thought of as the most iconic NYC landmark of all time, the Empire State Building. Holding hands tightly through the subway, brave tourists that we were, we exited on 34th Street and began our search. My mom stood with her clan of 3 shivering kids and 1 moody teenager trying to read her NYC map. She tapped a passerby on the shoulder (another brave move), asking where the Empire State Building was. Rolling his eyes, he gestured up: “Lady, look up! You’re standing right in front of it!”
Fifteen years later, I had the opportunity to relive my first New Yorker moment, this time, as a New Yorker. New York is a city full of change, but it’s comforting that some things stay pretty much the same, The Empire State Building being one of them.
We arrived at the building mid-day in freezing cold January, which I’m sure kept most tourists indoors at the MET or Museum of Natural History, because there were virtually no lines. After snapping a few shots…
…we headed up to the Observation Deck on the 86th floor.
We fastened our scarves, mittens, and jackets and set out to see the view of a lifetime. We started to the North with views of Central Park…
…headed East for views of the Chrysler Building and East River…
…whirled around South West to see the Hudson, Jersey, and the Freedom Tower…
…and of course had to get in a few street views, featuring NYC traffic and the lovely Bryant Park. We even saw NYC’s most resilient animal, the pigeon, taking in a view from the top.
A few fun facts about the Empire State Building that can have you kicking butt and taking names at your next game night of trivia:
-On March 17th, 1930, work on the building began. At a peak labor force of 3,000 men, the building rose at a rate of 4.5 stories per week.
-A little over a year later, on May 1st, 1931, President Hoover pressed a button in Washington DC, which turned on the building’s lights and officially opened it.
-The building was declared a landmark on May 18th, 1981 by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission.
-In 1994, the first Valentine’s Day wedding events took place in the building (aww!).
-Researchers from Cornell University say the Empire State Building is the most photographed landmark on earth.
-Ever year, the building hosts a Race To The Top, where runners will race 86 floors and 1,576 steps to reach the top…winners coming in around 10 minutes! WOW.