NYC: Empire State of Mind

Besides walking around Time Square with my mouth a gasp, or paying my respects to 9/11, the most tourist thing I did in New Your was ride the elevator of the Empire State Building to the 102 floor. I have a love for early century architecture.


In high school, my favorite book was Ayn Rand’s “The Fountain Head.” To this day, Howard Roark remains my favorite literary character every created. What I fell in love with about Howard Roark was his determination to live and work by a code of his creation. Howard Roark, a talented architect, didn’t seek fame or fortune. Instead, he sought to live true to his values.

Much of The Fountain Head is set in 1940’s New York. The book celebrates modern and historic architecture in New York City.  When I first read “The Fountain Head” I found Howard’s love of sky scrappers and architecture to be contagious. I fell in love with beautiful early and mid-century buildings.

When I imagined Howard’s designs, I pictured the Art Deco inspired Empire State Building. A building that challenged convention to become (for a period) the world’s tallest building. Completed in 1931, at 102 stories and 1,454 feet the Empire State Building was the tallest building in the world for nearly 40 years.

For me, the Empire State Building is a symbol of human ingenuity, and character. It took over 3,000 workers to create the New York City skyline masterpiece, and it is a symbol of human greed. In the boom of 1928, the developers of the sky scrapper secured funding for the monstrous sky scrapper. Ground broke, January 1930.  The buildings opening in May 1931 coincided with the Great Depression. For years, office space sat vacant, and the sky scrapper was deemed a failure. (It wasn’t until 1951 that The Empire State Building made a profit.)

The Empire State Building is the comeback story of a generation. The building went from being mocked as the “Empty State Building” to one of the most iconic structures in the world and rakes in over $100 USD annually.


Today over 3.5 million tourists (including me) visit the famed sky-scrapper. Guests can visit the observation deck daily from 8 am till 2 am. At $54 USD, the view from the top is worth the price of admission.  If you’re in New York, the view from the observation deck of the Empire State Building is something you must see.

Pro Tip: If you’re hoping to make it to the top of the Empire State Building, go early to skip the lines. The early you go, the faster the line moves. (In the afternoon you can expect to wait in line for over 2 hours.