The following pictures are all from the Empire State Building, which was essentially the activity for the last part of day two in NYC. Before I go on, there is something you need to know about the ESB. It sucks. Truly. Yes, the view is great, but you can go to the top of the Rockefeller (30 Rock) and be at the 55th floor for the same price and it'll take you about a quarter of the time. You won't be in the tallest building in all of Manhattan, but you'll get your view, your pictures, and all without the clusterfuck.
During the entire ESB experience I was trying to think of an appropriate word to use. Clusterfuck was, by far, the most accurate word that came to mind.
At the ESB I paid $20 bucks. I tried to use my UWM ID, but the worker handed it back to me and said it doesn't work if I am faculty. Anyways, with general admission I didn't even get a map. I had to pay for a map ($8) at the second line I got into. The first line was just for the airport-like security. After I bought my ticket and got a map, I got in another line. Finally, I think I am going to the observation deck, which isn't as high as you would guess (86th floor). I step on an elevator and when I step off I am on the 80th floor. What happened to that whole observation deck thing? The windows are frosted over on the 80th floor. No one can enjoy the view. Instead of enjoying the view, I am ushered into another line, which looks like it will take an hour to get through.
Kate and I went to the ESB right before sunset, thinking we had plenty of time to make it to the top by dusk. Wrong. We were stuck in a line on the 80th floor and it was already getting dark out. However, I am tall, and the windows were only frosted up to about 6'5" off the ground. I could get a pretty good look if I stood on my tip-toes, thus, I was able to get the first two pictures in this set.
Okay, so we are still stuck on the 80th floor, milling about in this never-ending line. Gosh, this sucks, I am thinking. Why did we do this? What an awful design to this place. The funny thing is, the way the ESB handles visitors and moves people along up to the observation deck was just renovated. Apparently, millions of dollars were spent trying to improve this zoo. Whoever was in charge of the redesign needs to be fired or pay their money back.
After we stood in that line for 20 minutes or so, an employee opened a door and announced that the line was moving so slowly that we could, if we wanted to, take the stairs to the 86th floor. Kate and I bolted for the stairs. The climb up was a good little workout and we probably cut off 20 minutes of waiting. Once at the top, we were miserable, but I was determined to get what I came for, a ton of pictures. We made it around the perimeter of the deck in about thirty minutes. We were shoulder to shoulder the entire time, nudging and gently pushing our way to prime viewing spots. This was the worst part about it, not the waiting, not having to pay eight bucks for a map, but finally getting to the top after well over an hour and realizing that the top is just as messed up as any other floor we were on between here and the street. There is no organization, obedience, or politeness whatsoever.
I can't say, don't go to the ESB when you are in NYC, but don't go on a weekend or holiday and don't hope to make it up there in any good amount of time. Kate and I are savvy travelers. We see the sights, but we don't get sucked into the really touristy crap. However, with the ESB, there is no way to be savvy. You're just going to have to deal with it if you want to get to the top.
A view of the Statue of Liberty from the 80th floor. I was holding my camera above my head and just shooting above the frosted windows, hoping I would get something decent.
Again, from the 80th floor. The Flatiron Building is in the foreground, center of picture. Also, the little green patch at the bottom of the picture is Washington Square where Kate and I dined the day before at the Shake Shack.
I can't tell you the names of the buildings on the left and right of this shot, but I like their glowing tops. My eyes and my camera were drawn to them.
The Chrysler Building is, in my mind, a much better looking building than the one I was in when I took this picture. It is beautiful, especially at night. It has a strong mystique and it made me think a lot about Howard Roark of The Fountainhead.
Shooting northwest. You can see the glow of Times Square in the lower left, right between those two black monoliths.