University of York Graduate, aspiring to be a journalist with dreams of one day publishing my own novel.
Published work can be seen at www.theyorker.co.uk and www.yorkvision.co.uk
Published December 30th 2012
Face your fear of heights
King Kong scaled it, Alicia Keys wrote a song about it – is the Empire State Building all it's cracked up to be? Standing 86 floors above New York City wasn't exactly my idea of fun as someone with a fear of heights, but as they say, when in Rome – so I faced my fears and battled the elevator.
First off, let me warn all potential patrons of the ESB that it does not skimp on security – akin to Heathrow, you will have to face scanners, have your bags checked and possibly take off your belts and shoes. You'll also be going pretty high up so I suppose it's pretty similar to any airport experience, only less expensive.
While there was the option of going to the 102nd floor, this seemed too much for my phobia to take, and thus I stuck to the 86th floor observatory. After wandering around a few opulent gilded hallways, I was in one of possibly the fastest elevators in the world, feeling my ears pop as the floors began to ascend in multiples of ten rather than one.
Sufferers of asthma or the less commonly known one-too-many-doughnutsitis like me should be warned – the elevator only takes you as far as the 80th floor, and the subsequent 6 feel something of an Everest. The 86th floor, however, is your reward, and I was surprised to see that there is in fact an exhibit inside showcasing the history of the building, complete with posters of King Kong and the like.
Going ape: some of the treasures inside the observatory
Outside, however, is the real treasure, made hard to access of course by the hundreds of other tourists trying to squeeze to the outer edge. Visitors can walk the square perimeter at their leisure and marvel at the views of the beautiful concrete jungle, with everything from Macy's to Central Park in easy eyeshot. It's hard to describe the vastness of it all without actually being up there yourself, but all I can say is that if this is what the 86th floor observatory has to offer, goodness only knows what can be seen from the top.
At $25 for a standard ticket, the ESB seems reasonable for what you're getting, which hopefully isn't a heart-in-the-mouth fear of heights as I experienced. Visitors are welcome to purchase the photo for which they are encouraged to pose in the queue line downstairs – I found, however, that I took enough from the top.
If I could offer one word of advice to any potential ESP visitors, despite my fear of heights, it would be – spend as much time up there as you can possibly handle. It might be overwhelming and scary, but having witnessed the grand scale of New York from such a height, it's something of a disappointment being brought back down to Earth.