Yesterday was a perfectly clear day in NYC so I decided it was the day to use one of my Empire State Building tickets. The observation deck opens at 8:00 but by the time I'd finished fluffing around I didn't get there until about 9:00. But that didn't worry me because I'd purchased an express ticket online before leaving Australia.
But to my disappointment, I still found myself at the end of the only queue once entering the building. This queue snaked around for a while and it took about 15 minutes to move through; I was starting to feel a bit ripped off about the express ticket.
Then one of the attendants called out for express ticket holders and everything changed. I learnt to have my ticket with the express side showing and that made all the difference. One flash of that and I was ushered past countless subsequent queues and first into the lifts. I really didn't have to wait again. So my advice is pay the little extra; it is SO worth it.
As for the observation deck itself - it was crammed with people and freezing cold but utterly amazing. I've done quite a few towers over the last couple of years but this was the best by far. And being outdoors you had a really clear view as you can see below. I just kept slowly working my way around snapping and feeling totally in awe of this incredible city. It was a real "pinch me" moment. The only downside was that, because it was still early, the light was too low downtown to get good pictures. It ended up looking a bit hazy. But uptown had plenty of shadows and brightly illuminated buildings.
And all the time in my head was a line from "Moments of Pleasure" by Kate Bush - "the buildings of New York, just look like mountains through the snow"
I have another ticket and I plan to go back at night.