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View Full Version : Two different Observation Decks at the Empire State Building???


bienville
09-21-2011, 11:39 PM
Just looking at the Empire State Building website (https://ticketing.esbnyc.com/Webstore/Content.aspx?Kind=LandingPage) and there are two options for going up to the observation deck: 86th Floor and 102nd Floor

Isn't the point of going to the top of the Empire State Building to, you know, go to the top of the Empire State Building?

I'm confused about what's being offered here. More confused, because I've been to the "top" of the building twice before: once in 2004 and once in 2006. I am pretty sure both experiences were the same- but the Wiki page saysThere is a second observation deck on the 102nd floor that is open to the public. It was closed in 1999, but reopened in November 2005.

So . . .
If I went to the "top" in 2004, I didn't really go to the top.
If I went to the same deck in 2006, I still didn't go the the real top despite having the real top available as it previously was not.

I don't remember there being two options in 2006- I just went to the "top" (or so I thought).


So, who can clue me in. How are the two experiences different (besides the difference of 16 floors)?

Is the 86th Floor the classic Empire State Building experience with the gift shop with plush King Kong dolls, while the 102nd is a bit of extra?

Or is the 102nd the indisputable only real deal experience? Worth the extra $15 per person?

Mr Downtown
09-21-2011, 11:47 PM
The 102nd is really only big enough for about 30 people at a time. Thus the 82nd, served by more elevators, with room for a gift shop, toilets, etc.

bienville
09-21-2011, 11:59 PM
The 102nd is really only big enough for about 30 people at a time. Thus the 82nd, served by more elevators, with room for a gift shop, toilets, etc.

Hmmmm, seems the 86th is the only one I've been to. I think it seemed "real" enough for me.

Telemark
09-22-2011, 12:00 AM
The 102nd floor is much smaller and not significantly more exciting, but I can't really say it is a waste of money. It is an investment of time, since you have to wait in a second line. I think it's fully enclosed and not open to the elements.

panache45
09-22-2011, 12:55 AM
The 86th floor was originally intended to be the only observation deck. The 102nd floor was supposed to be a terminal for dirigibles (http://whiskeyandbeans.com/things-of-interest/the-empire-state-building-airship-mooring/). It proved to be impractical because of high winds, so it became a second observation deck.

RadicalPi
09-22-2011, 04:04 AM
Isn't the point of going to the top of the Empire State Building to, you know, go to the top of the Empire State Building?

Not necessarily. Some might want to go there to see the rest of the city.

Crotalus
09-22-2011, 07:46 AM
When you are on the 86th floor deck, there is nothing around that is higher, from what I remember. You can see quite a bit of Empire State building above you, but you're looking across or down at everything else. I certainly didn't feel cheated because I didn't go to the higher deck.

SciFiSam
09-22-2011, 08:02 AM
I went to both decks, but the 86th had the advantage that you could still see the top of Empire State Building behind you, and it's pretty from that angle. You had more uniniterrupted views from the 102nd floor but it wasn't as roomy.

RealityChuck
09-22-2011, 08:53 AM
I went to the 102nd floor in the 60s; the 86th floor deck is more interesting. The top floor is a room with glass windows to look out, but on the 86th floor, you can go outside.

flodnak
09-22-2011, 09:39 AM
I went to both observation decks with a school band trip in the '80s. My memory is that the 102nd floor area is, as has been mentioned, entirely indoors, so you're looking through windows. It also gets crowded quickly, worse than the crush on the main observation deck. The Art Deco interior is kind of cool, but so is the rest of the building. The view, which is after all what you're paying for, isn't signficantly different from what you see from the 86th floor.

In short: when we took the young flodnaks to the Empire State Building this summer, we did not shell out for the 102nd floor.

Floater
09-22-2011, 09:44 AM
... but on the 86th floor, you can go outside.
And throw paper airplanes from. :cool:

Mr Downtown
09-22-2011, 10:42 AM
To clarify a bit about the dirigible mooring mast:

The developers came up with the idea when the building was being designed, but it's doubtful that anyone who knew anything about airships ever thought the idea could be made workable. Indeed, no mooring equipment was ever installed, and no airship ever attempted to dock there, though some newspapers were lowered by rope in a 1931 publicity stunt.

Drawings showed airship passengers descending to an open-air platform on the 102nd floor. They were intended to then descend to the 86th floor to reach lounges, baggage rooms, customs, and ticket offices. The current highest observation platform, the room with the windows, was always intended as such. It's actually the 101st floor, though elevator signage has always said "102nd floor," as the original intent was to allow sightseers to ascend a stairway to the open-air platform on 102. This has never been opened to the public, however.

Fascinating reading on the subject in John Tauranac's book The Empire State Building.

carnivorousplant
09-22-2011, 11:34 AM
Drawings showed airship passengers descending to an open-air platform on the 102nd floor. They were intended to then descend to the 86th floor to reach lounges, baggage rooms, customs, and ticket offices. [/I]

I wondered how you got off the zeppelin.

Doc Savage's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doc_Savage#The_86th_floor) office was on the 86th floor of a New York Skyscraper. :)

cmkeller
09-22-2011, 12:27 PM
I'll echo the others - the 102nd floor is a little room, with some circular windows that do not provide a very good view of anything. The 86th floor is definitely the better observation-deck experience.

alphaboi867
09-22-2011, 03:53 PM
To clarify a bit about the dirigible mooring mast:

The developers came up with the idea when the building was being designed, but it's doubtful that anyone who knew anything about airships ever thought the idea could be made workable. Indeed, no mooring equipment was ever installed, and no airship ever attempted to dock there, though some newspapers were lowered by rope in a 1931 publicity stunt...[/I]

IIRC Hugo Eckener thought the idea was so asine he refused to even consider docking his zepplins there (prefering the Naval Air Station in Lakehurst, NJ). There is a photo of a zepplin moored at the Empire State Building and being blown near vertical by the wind, but it's a fake. The vertical airship bit is real, but that was the USS Los Angeles, not a passenger ship, and it was at a Navy base).

AndyLee
09-22-2011, 04:40 PM
I went to the 102nd floor in the 60s; the 86th floor deck is more interesting. The top floor is a room with glass windows to look out, but on the 86th floor, you can go outside.

Yeah this was the thrill of my life, was going outside. And I'm a chicken. I went to the WTC observation deck, but I was not able to bring myself to go up the escalator and outside on that deck. I wish I had now, but at the WTC, there was a sign saying something, like if you're afraid, don't go up the escalator, because you have to walk around and come back down the other escalator, so make sure you're not afraid before you go up to the outside.

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