Monday, November 2, 2009

An Empire State of Mind (or, queue as folk)

There are certain things everybody has to do when they get to New York:

  1. See the Statue of Liberty
  2. Take the subway
  3. Ride in a yellow cab
  4. Get angry at traffic ("Hey, I'm walking here!")
  5. Eat a slice of pizza that's bigger than your face, and
  6. Climb the Empire State Building

The building itself is rather unimpressive from the outside, and if you're looking for it during the day it would be hard to pick out unless you knew exactly where to look. Inside the building however, is gorgeous. The lobby looks like it's completely marble, guilt, and oak. It's probably not of course, since I wouldn't know the difference between oak and any other kind of wood but you get the idea. It looked pretty.

So I entered the lobby, and took my place in the queue to go up. Well, it turned out to be the queue to use the escalator to get to the place to buy tickets.

5 minutes.

Once I got up to the ticket area (second floor), I noticed that all the windows in the room had been frosted over, possibly to maintain our own privacy, but probably to prevent us queue-folk from getting a free view outside from the second story. The line for this was one of those snaky ones which wound back on itself several times.

30 minutes.

Once I got to the front of the line, I saw the price list: $20 normal, $18 for military with ID, free for military in uniform. This struck me as kind of odd - why would you want to distinguish between those in uniform and those who are on their day off? And then I realised that it's a very bad look charging somebody in uniform for something as patriotic as visiting a US icon. But if they're not in uniform, then it doesn't look so bad, and so you can charge them without risking backlash from the people in line.

At the ticket window, I asked for a single adult ticket to go to the viewing platform. I think I got her on a bad day.

"How many tickets?"
"One please - I asked for a single"
"To the viewing platform?"
"Child, adult, or senior?"
(looking up)"Child, adult, or senior?"
"Child, please"
"Do you have ID?"
"'s my NZ driver's license"
"Sir, it says here you're 25 years old"
"28. What's the cutoff here in the US?"

This continued for a couple of minutes, and once they had worked out that my credit card was just like any other they had seen, I was finally in the queue to the elevators. They had two elevators taking groups of 8 people up at any given time, once an elevator from the top had come down. So I waited.

20 minutes.

I shared an elevator to the 60th floor with a group of Amish (no, I thought that too), where we then had to wait (also with frosted windows) for another elevator ride up to the 86th floor.

5 minutes.

Once there though - all the waiting seemed worth it. I could see all of New York from there - the top of the highest point in New York. Given that I refused to spend $10 on a map of the view from the lobby, I had to try and figure out the view. From my limited knowledge of the city so far, I could see Central Park, the Hudson River, a couple of bridges, and the Statue of Liberty.
I'm sure I could see other things, but I have no idea what they were. So here are some photos instead (spot the Statue of Liberty):

I spent about half an hour up there before queuing to go back down. Later that night I learned that you can buy your tickets online and thus jump a big chunk of the queues. So I know for next time.

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't stop laughing when I read about your interaction with the ticketing lady!! I would've told her that I didn't have an ID cause I was a child, and what child carries ID?