Empire State Building opens new Observatory Experience on 102nd floor

Lovers of the high life have a new reason to pop into New York City with the opening of the renovated observatory on the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building, part of a $US165 million reimagination of the NYC icon.

Completed at the peak of the Great Depression in 1931, the ESB was the first skyscraper with more than 100 floors: officially, the 102nd level is the top floor, although there are photos about of a 103rd level, open only to super-super-VIPs. The ESB stood as the world's tallest building until 1972 and although it's long since been dwarfed, its distinctive Art Deco profile and place in pop history – from King Kong to rom-coms – puts it in the top 10 attractions in NYC.

New in the Midtown Manhattan landmark, the 102nd floor observatory has been reconstructed, removing all walls and pylons for 360-degree views of the city from its height at 381 metres. The level is reached by a glass elevator from the outdoor observation deck on the 86th level, 320 metres above Fifth Avenue. The new elevator travels the 16 floors via a completely glass shaft: look up to see the 68-metre mast, which elevates the building to a total 443 metres in height.

Also opening this month on the 80th floor is a new interactive experience that helps visitors create a personalised itinerary of their stay in New York City, which can be sent straight to your smartphone.

The new Observatory Experience on its second floor opened in July, tracing the building's history from its construction in the 1920s – its high-rise workers famously documented by photographer Lewis Hine - to its status as one of the world's most recognisable buildings, which turns 90 on May 1st 2020.

The Empire State Building opens 8am-2am, 365 days of the year. Tickets to the 86th floor cost from $US38 and another $US20 to reach the 102nd floor. See esbnyc.com

Those that love a higher perspective should include the One World observatory and the Top of the Rock at the Rockerfeller building on their to-do list, and take note that supertall skyscraper 30 Hudson Yards launches its new, outdoor, glass-floor vantage point, Edge, on March 11, 2020. Sitting at 335 metres, the 100th floor attraction will include a champagne bar. Tickets are now on sale, see edgenyc.com

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