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Views From the Top: Empire State Building Reopens Observatory

All interactive exhibits are open with no mask requirements

New York City’s Empire State Building it has lifted COVID-19 protocols for guests of its Observatory Experience, in alignment with new state and city guidelines. Masks are optional for visitors, and the many interactive exhibits and elements – including the 86th Floor Observatory viewfinders – have fully reopened. 

The Empire State Building Observatory Experience recently added a dedicated entrance on 34th Street, one dozen immersive, museum-quality exhibits, and industry-leading Indoor Environmental Quality improvements.

“The Empire State Building is ready to welcome guests to explore our newly reimagined Observatory Experience in its entirety,” said Jean-Yves Ghazi, president of the Empire State Building Observatory. “Our touch installations, just completed in November 2019, are now in full operation for the first time since our shutdown in March 2020. To appreciate fully the International Icon of New York City, you must come inside and visit the Observatory, and we can’t wait to welcome you.” 

In November 2019, ESB completed its $165 million overhaul that added a dedicated entrance and lobby for Observatory visitors on 34th Street; one dozen immersive, tactile, and digital museum-quality exhibits that document the building’s history from its construction to its current status as pop culture icon; and industry-leading Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) improvements that include bipolar ionization, MERV 13 filters and increased ventilation that led to ESB’s achievement as the first building in the U.S. to receive the WELL Health-Safety Rating. 

Popular exhibits throughout the experience include “Kong,” which brings visitors face to face with the famous primate featured in the original 1933 film; “Construction,” in which guests are placed in the middle of life-like bronze sculptures and videos of iron workers and masons as they build the iconic tower; “The Site in the 1920’s,” which allows guests to look through building surveyors to see New York City streets in the late 1920’s; “Scenes of NYC,” where visitors can see nine famed New York locations through the building’s classic viewfinders from the 80th floor; and “World’s Most Famous Building,” which depicts the Empire State Building as a cultural icon in a sweeping 72-screen, 180-degree surround sound theater. The world-famous viewfinders on the outdoor observation deck on the 86th floor have been uncovered for use.

To maximize the experience, the number of visitors to the Observatory at any one time are limited. Reservations are recommended and can be made in advance at 

Soaring 1,454 feet above Midtown Manhattan (from base to antenna top), the Empire State Building, owned by Empire State Realty Trust, Inc., is the “World’s Most Famous Building”, and 2021 marks the building’s 90th anniversary as an iconic landmark in the heart of New York City. It was the city’s – and the world’s — tallest tower when it was completed in 1931. It is now the sixth-tallest building in the United States and the fourth tallest skyscraper in New York.