The Empire Strikes Back

On my last day in NYC, before going to Toronto, I decided I just had to go to the Empire State Building. I mean, it’s a landmark, isn’t it? Built in the 1920’s, it stands today as the tallest building in the city (now that the Twin Towers are gone). it’s a symbol of New York City if there ever was one. It’s the building King Kong climbed on. It’s majesty and history all rolled into one.

Isn’t it?

Well… it is, but after 20 minutes inside, the Empire State Building becomes only one thing.

A line.

You see, when you approach the building, you see a line. A small, not too intimidating line forms on the sidewalk outside, and you’re inside in less than ten minutes.

In the entrance there’s a sign which notifies of the approximate time to reach the observatory.

Three to four hours.

At that point, I became worried, but I dismissed it as some optical illusion created by the converging of the sun’s rays and the exhaust fumes from the cars.

It must have said 30-40 minutes. Yeah, it must have.

We went up and came upon a BIG line. We stood there for about 40 minutes. Now, this is not Israel, so everybody didn’t become friends for life, but still, you hear different languages, see all kinds of people, it’s really interesting.

Until you want to pee.

That line was for the security check. Next, a line for the actual purchase of the tickets. This one went fast, only about 15 minutes. So I bought my ticket, went ahead, and came upon…

Well, you guessed it. A line. A big line. A HUGE line. The Mother of All Lines.

I was in a dilemma of sorts. On the one hand, I really had to pee. On the other hand, if I’ll go to the bathroom I won’t enter the line, which means that people that came in after me will now be in ahead of me.

Well, what can you do? I went to the bathroom and then came back. The bathrooms, by the way, are very clean. Probably because everyone pees in their pants.

This line (all lines, actually) went ahead in an orderly and amazingly well maintained fashion. either that people are very patient, or they knew what was coming. That didn’t stop some of them from sitting on the floor now and then. I just tried to imagine that sort of line in Israel and came to the conclusion that if the Empire State Building was in Israel it would’ve been torched long ago by an angry line-hating mob.

That line was for the actual entrance into the elevators and it broke down into a couple of smaller lines. We got stopped every few meters by a very polite but firm ESB employee.
I stood about two hours in that line plus the mini-lines.

And then we entered the elevators. Hurray! Hallelujah! Praise the lord!

The elevators went up and my ears started feeling the pressure. the doors opened… we were there, we were at the glorious observatory! we were-

We were in a line again.

Now, this line was the line before you actually enter the observatory. It snaked across an ugly floor which had sign that read: “sorry for our look, we’re renovating!”
Great, not only do I have to stand in line, I have to see beams and paint everywhere.

While we were on that line, each of us had his or her picture taken in front of a huge photograph of the ESB. I has no idea why. It wasn’t voluntary, they photographed everybody. I thought that in the end we’re going to get a cute little memento of our visit, some compensation for standing three hours in line.
We’ll get back to the picture later.

Then, it was finally over and we got into the observatory. The million dollar question is: Was it worth it?

Well, it’s worth it, I guess. The panorama is truly stunning. I took a lot of pictures (see below), went around and around, and eventually got the point and went back inside. All in all I was there for about 20 minutes. 3.5 hours in line for 20 minutes. Crazy, ha?

So I was out, and I thought that I’m just going to take the elevator down, get out to the street, and go home to rest my aching body.

But no. There were lines on the way out. We stood about 15 minutes in line to get out of the floor. On the way out, we came to a long stand which had everybody’s pictures in it. “That’s nice”, I thought, “now we’ll get our pictures in return for all the trouble we went through”.

And we could get our picture, we only had to pay 25 dollars.

25 dollars. that’s more than 100 NIS. For a fucking picture. I said “no, thanks”. It really annoyed me that they are taking our picture without asking us and then trying to sell it to us for a ridiculously high price.

The ESB is a money machine. On the way up, through the lines, they try to sell you all kinds of things like audio commentaries and movie simulations, and on the observatory deck there is of course a gift shop full of silly, expensive stuff. But hey, if you’re a tourist, you asked for it.

But in the end, there’s nothing like seeing the greatest city in the world from sky high. It is truly awe-inspiring

Go to part 2 for the pictures and judge for yourself if it was worth it 🙂

A look at Midtown Manhattan



86 floors up!


The famous Chrysler Building


The Financial District, where the Twin Towers used to be


The edge of Midtown, with Central Park in the distance


The famous antenna, on which King Kong climbed to fend off those pesky aeroplanes


I did want to take a photo of the ESB itself, but you can’t take a good picture from below the building. I know, how lame…



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