2 Jul 2008 8:45 am   //   Filed under: New York is different

The view is the payoff

Waiting for the Empire State Building observation deck is one of the least pleasant experiences in New York City.

In the best of circumstances, it takes at least an hour. You wait in line with tourists clutching wads of $100s they got at JFK. Many of them come from continents where lines are not treated with the kind of systematic order Americans are used to. You can watch the gears turn in people’s heads as they look for openings where they can cut. Meanwhile, the hucksters who work for the building bombard you with pitches for worthless extras (including but not limited to: pay more to cut the line, buy an $8 map, rent an audio tour, buy a Citypass good at a couple of 2nd-tier museums, buy a tour bus ride, buy a helicopter ride, ride the “similar to Imax” skyride simulator, and of course, get your photo taken in front of a greenscreen backdrop). When you finally buy the ticket, you can’t help but feel like you’re getting hosed. Prices are up to $34 for the 86th floor and the 102nd floor mooring mast, a new option which you’d be crazy to refuse. And right now, the whole place is under construction, so as you pace slowly through a maze of rope lines on the 80th floor staging area, you have nothing to do but stare at unfinished walls and bare wires and lights dangling from the black ceiling overhead.

Why? Why? Why? This is why:

view Empire State Building