The 102-storey Empire State Building stands as perhaps the most evocative and muscular symbol of New York, as it has since it was completed in 1931. An elevator takes you to the main observatory on the 86th floor, which was the summit of the building before the radio and TV mast was added. The views from the outside walkways here are as stunning as you’d expect (you can continue up to the tiny 102nd-floor observatory for an extra $15, but the view is about the same). For the best experience, you should try to time your visit so that you’ll reach the top at sunset; note that during peak times, waits to ascend can be upwards of an hour (buy online, or express, tickets to skip the lines).

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