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Empire State Building 350 Fifth Avenue (at 34th Street) Manhattan (212) 736-3100

Summary: The grand-daddy of all skyscrapers and now a National Historic Landmark, the Empire State Building, with its central Manhattan location, offers the best views of New York City. Try to go at night for great views and fewer crowds.

Still one of the world’s tallest buildings, this New York icon was completed in 1931 – a time when horses were still a major source of power on the construction site. Its famous Art Deco spire, visible throughout much of New York, is immortalized in countless movies, including King Kong and Sleepless in Seattle.

The idea for the Empire State Building was conceived during the real estate boom of the 1920’s, but by the time the building was finished, the developers had to struggle to find any tenants at all, leading to the nickname the “Empty State.” Ownership of this huge office building, with 102 floors and over 2 million square feet of commercial space, recently passed to a group including Donald Trump.

The building’s colorful history includes a 1945 crash by a B-25 bomber, which killed 14 people but did little structural damage, even at the point of contact on the 79th floor. For a time, there were thoughts of turning the skyscraper into a dirigible “airport.” Although the plan for mooring blimps to the top was eventually abandoned, evidence of this scheme lives on in the observatory of the 86th floor (which was to hold the customer lounges, ticket agencies and baggage rooms) and the observation deck on the 102nd story (which was to be the mooring site).