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Empire State Building is Finally Ready for Instagram Age

Empire State Building is Finally Ready for Instagram Age

Wednesday, 13 November, 2019 - 06:45
The Empire State Building, all dressed up to mark the 40th anniversary of the Rubik's Cube in 2014. (Reuters)
New York, London - Asharq Al-Awsat

For four decades, the Empire State Building was the tallest building in New York. Today, the world-famous building looks relatively small compared to the rest of the city skyline.


In the last few years, nearly five larger skyscrapers were built during the construction boom in New York, with countless buildings rising higher and higher in the sky. The current star is the new World Trade Center in southern Manhattan, which is approximately 540 meters high.


For the 88-year-old Empire State (443 meters high), each new rising skyscraper means more competition for visitors, especially that many new buildings offer viewing platforms, reported the German news agency.


The World Trade Center, for example, has a multimedia presentation, while the new Hudson Yards project plans to open the “highest outdoor viewing platform in the northern hemisphere”, at an altitude of 335 meters, in 2020. But the Empire State Building is making a comeback. In October 2019, it reopened after a major renovation of rooms and platforms.


Located in the heart of Manhattan, the building is, first and foremost, an administrative hub that houses many companies, such as LinkedIn. Every day, about 16,000 people walk in and out of the Empire State to work.


Every year, about four million people visit the building, which also appears in countless Hollywood films, generating about $132 million for the Empire State Realty Trust.


Before the renovation, visitors loved the spectacular outdoor view from the viewing platform, but were not very interested in the dusty old galleries at the bottom of the building - or the long queues to the ticket booth and elevators.


Jean-Yves Ghazi, head of the Empire State Observatory, said: "We surveyed our visitors, and they told us that before coming to New York City, they already had a connection with the Empire State Building. They also said they love the brand, the building, and the scenery, but they hate waiting in queues."


"These exhibitions have managed to actually put an end to the queues, and to strengthen the emotional connection between visitors and the building. Four or five years ago, we started this exciting project to recreate the visitor's journey, and spent $165 million to achieve these results," he added.


The visitors' entrance has been relocated, and the tickets are sold almost exclusively in advance, or from a ticket vending machine. The route to the elevators runs through the newly renovated exhibition and revolves around the history of the building, which features remarkable multimedia elements and selfie stations. The most popular is the King Kong, which has been brought back to life with multiple screens and two large hands.


For his part, Tom Henz from THINK design, which carried out the renovation works, said these changes help prevent queues.


"Everything is innovated to help enhance the emotional connection between people and the building before they arrive," he says.


The Empire State Building is now ready for the Instagram era.


Anthony Malkin, president of Realty Trust, says the real star, the jewel of the crown, is, of course, the viewing platforms: an open hall on the 86th floor and a closed round one on the 102nd floor, at an altitude of 381 meters.


Both of them look closer to visitors after renovation, with more space and larger windows. On the 102nd floor, visitors can get a 360-degree view of New York City through 24 windows.


"The renovated observatory is likely to become a must-see shrine, even for the locals," the New York Times reported.


There is only one disadvantage, something that is truly unsolvable; one of the city's most beautiful sites cannot be seen from a viewing platform - the Empire State itself.


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