On our final full day in New York City, we went up to the top of the Empire State Building. First, we went to the 86th floor observation deck.

Looking east: I love the art deco of the Chrysler Building. The 59th Street bridge is in the background, crossing Roosevelt Island in the East River.
Looking north: Fifth Avenue divides the photo; Central Park is in the background. There are so many tall buildings that the scene looks fake, like a scale-model of the city.
Looking west: Macy's is in the lower right; the partial view of the circular building in the center is Madison Square Garden. That's the Hudson River in this photo.
Looking south: Of course, One World Trade Center rises above lower Manhattan and the financial district.  To the far right in the middle is Lady Liberty.  In the distance in the middle left is the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. (Unfortunately, the skies turned overcast during this photo.)
Then we took a second elevator up to the 102nd floor! That is nearly a quarter of a mile above the street. Looking north, you get an even better view of Central Park.
And looking south towards the financial district, you can just see Liberty and Ellis Islands to the right.
Visit the Empire State Building website here for information about tickets. The current adult ticket price to visit both observation decks is $42.00.

NOTE: Pre-purchase your tickets online! Pre-purchasing and printing any and all tickets is my biggest tip to any traveler. You save so much valuable tourist time. Online ticket buyers skip the ticket line (which can be long) and go straight to the observation deck.  If you splurge and purchase the express tickets ($47.50 for the 86th floor only; $64.50 for both observation decks.), you can skip both the ticket and elevator lines. We did not purchase the express tickets. Fortunately we did not have a long wait to get on the elevator to the 86th floor observation deck, so I'm not sure the extra cost is necessary.

The Observatory is open from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. daily.

One other tip: The 86th floor observation deck is outside. The air temperature 860 feet in the air is much cooler (and windier) than down on the sidewalk in front of the Empire State Building.  You may want to carry a jacket or sweater. 

All photos in this post were taken by me during my trip to New York City in September, 2012.

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