New York’s Empire State Building Opens New Observatory

    17 October, 2019

    The world famous Empire State Building opened a new visitors' center last weekend.

    The new observatory can be found on the building's 102nd floor, high above New York City.

    The observatory provides 360-degree views of the New York area. Visitors are able to look through large floor-to-ceiling windows that are twice as big as the old windows.

    The Empire State Building was built at a time when many developers were racing to be the first to complete the world's tallest building.

    Visitors to the Empire State Building pass a scale model of the building as they begin their visit, in New York, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
    Visitors to the Empire State Building pass a scale model of the building as they begin their visit, in New York, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

    Ground was first broken in January 1930 and work began two months later. The building went up very fast, with workers completing framing for its structure at a rate of about four-and-a-half floors per week.

    When completed, the Empire State Building was just over 443 meters tall. At the time, it was the world's tallest building. On May 1, 1931, the president of the United States, Herbert Hoover, took part in the opening ceremonies. He pressed a button that turned on the lights, officially opening the building. At the time, Hoover was in Washington, D.C., not New York.

    Today, more than 4 million people visit the Empire State Building each year. About 60 percent of the visitors are from overseas.

    The Empire State Building has observation areas on two floors. The first, on the 86th floor, is an open air space that surrounds the building's spire. It provides 360-degree views of the New York City skyline.

    Building officials say that on a clear day, visitors to the newly designed observatory can see past up to 120 kilometers in the distance.

    Night-time visitors can take a new, high-speed elevator up to the 102nd floor until 1:15 in the morning. Elevator riders should take note of the building's lighting on the way up. The lights change colors daily to celebrate different holidays or people.

    On the way up, you can now visit new exhibits on the building's second floor. Among these are a model of the moving hand used by King Kong in the 1933 movie of the same name.

    In the film, King Kong climbs the Empire State Building. The creature is attacked by military planes and falls to his death.

    The price to visit the 86th floor observatory is $38 per person, while the cost to ride all the way to the top is $58.

    A major New York City developer paid for the $165 million remodeling project.

    I'm Bryan Lynn.

    The Associated Press reported on this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

    Have you ever visited the Empire State Building? Write to us in the Comments section, and visit 51VOA.COM.


    Words in This Story

    360 degrees – adj. involving a complete or total sight of something

    view – n. the act of seeing or examination; lookout

    ceiling n. the upper part of a room

    frame n. the structure or a building

    button n. something you press to control a piece of equipment

    spire n. a tall, pointed tower on the top of a building

    elevator n. a machine that carries people up and down in buildings

    exhibit n. a place where objects or artwork are shown