King Kong Returns to the Empire State Building!

By Suz Pathmanathan

The Eighth Wonder of the World, a.ka. King Kong has returned to the Empire State Building. Not only is he the inspiration for a brand new Broadway show, but he’s also back where he belongs. The 86-year-old giant ape that first tormented the Big Apple in 1933 has returned with a vengeance in the form of an interactive exhibit at the iconic Empire State Building.

Kong is a part of the new ESB museum that opened last week - a fun extension of the recently revealed tech-driven observatory entrance at 20 West 34th Street.

Photo by: Empire State Building/Empire State Realty Trust

How to see King Kong at the Empire State Building

To experience Kong in all his glory, guests can enter a thirties era office designed in line with the building’s Art Deco sheen. The most unnerving aspect of this room are the broken windows showing two giant ape hands reaching into the building. King Kong himself peeps in through the window via a video installation as he climbs to the top of the skyscraper.

The new museum is another exciting phase of the building’s $165 million renovations, which includes a new lighting ceremony installation and digital hosts. Work is expected to wrap up by the end of this year.

In addition to the King Kong exhibit, the museum looks at the history and cultural impact of the 45th tallest building in the world. The Empire State Building has popped up in over 250 TV shows, and films: the building’s first appearance was in, you guessed it, King Kong. These two icons go way back.

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The Museum

Be sure to check out these immersive experience featured across its nine galleries. Admission tickets ensure access to the new second-floor immersive exhibits; as well as entry to the iconic 360-degree view open air Observatory:

The Site in the 1920s

Starting at its very beginning, black and white photos show the empty site of the original Waldorf Astoria Hotel before the skyscraper’s construction began. Through building surveyors, Guests can look in and see the New York City streets of the late 1920s come to life in full color.


Step into the past with moving photographs based on the work of Lewis Hine. Visitors can also interact with specially commissioned cast sculptures of construction workers as they work and take their lunch break.

Modern Marvel

Creating a safe space for the environment is precisely what the building aims to achieve. The Modern Marvel exhibit outlines the specific measures taken to make the Empire State Building a world leader in sustainability.

Otis Elevators

Otis Elevators designed the original elevators for the 102 floors. Walk through a simulation of an actual elevator shaft in this dedicated exhibit from Otis Elevators. It showcases not only how the original elevators operated, but the latest technology installed in the newest elevators. With more than 10 million tenants and Observatory Guests each year, these enduring machines are truly fascinating feats of engineering.

Urban Campus

Most visitors aren’t aware that the building houses tenants from airline offices to tourist boards. The Urban Campus display offers a glimpse into some of the significant tenant spaces, amenities, and hidden views of the building.

World’s Most Famous Building

An original score has been created especially for the exhibit. Guests are free to explore the space, surrounded by more than seventy screens displaying ESB’s starring role in pop culture. These have been sourced from every decade since the 1930s with movie posters and clips.

King Kong

Stroll into an office from the 1930s where the famous giant ape’s fingers reach through the walls. Just like the classic movie, he dangles from the building and dodges vintage bi-planes. Those feeling brave enough can step into Kong’s hands for the ultimate Instagram post.


Many famous faces from around the world have graced the windy observatory atop the ESB. This exhibit highlights some of the most-famous visitors (athletes, musicians, actors) to the attraction. Their images and signed memorabilia adorn the walls. Guests can stop to admire these as they head to the elevators that will take them to their next stop: NYC: Above & Beyond on the 80th Floor.

The museum is open from 8 AM to 2 AM, seven days a week. Get down there and meet Kong for yourself!

Need more inspiration on things to do in NYC? Step right this way.

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Manhattan's skyline with both the Empire State Building and One Vanderbilt in view.

SUMMIT One Vanderbilt Vs. Empire State Building Comparison

Selecting the best observation platform to visit when in New York is a very tall order indeed (pun intended), with five titanic towers to choose from. These, for the uninitiated, are the Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, Edge, SUMMIT One Vanderbilt and the One World Observatory. Each of these has its own unique quirks and views, but perhaps the greatest contrast in experience is to be found between hit-tech newbie SUMMIT and Art Deco OG the Empire State Building. We pitched these two skyscraping icons against one another to find out which one should top your Big Apple bucket list. Dive into our SUMMIT vs Empire State Building comparison to find out... Empire State Building Name: This one requires no introduction... the Empire State Building is up there with the Eiffel Tower, Taj Mahal and Sagrada Familia as one of the planet’s most famous structures. Age: Construction of the Empire State Building began in March 1930 and was, quite remarkably, completed just 14 months later in April 1931. Empire State Building in a Nutshell: Surely the most iconic Art Deco edifice on the planet, the Empire State Building was the world’s tallest building for over four decades, until topped by the World Trade Center’s North Tower in 1970. This monolithic Manhattan masterpiece has starred in hundreds of movies and TV shows over the last century, including King Kong (obvs), plus Tom and Jerry, Independence Day, Friends, The Smurfs and, well, the list goes on and on. Its observation platform on the 102nd floor is still one of the highest (and most visited) in the city, nearly a century after that monster gorilla first took the al fresco route to the SUMMIT. Empire State Building: Vital Statistics  Height: 1,454 feet (443 meters) to the tip of the tower on the roof. The top-floor observation platform is 1,224 feet (373 meters) up. Number of floors: 102. Elevators: 73. What’s the Empire State Building Experience Like? You’ll get some of the best views of the Chrysler and Flatiron buildings from up here. In fact, arguably the only downside is that the awesome views don’t include... the Empire State Building itself. Console yourself by papping some of the Big Apple’s other landmarks, including Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, the Brooklyn Bridge and the One World Trade Center (to name just a few). The 86th floor is where you’ll likely want to spend the most time, thanks to its open-air platform and unparalleled photo opportunities, but it would be remiss not to go all the way to the top while you’re here. Be aware though that the platform on the 102nd floor is fully enclosed, a bit smaller, and has a tendency to get quite busy. Fascinating Empire State Building Fact of the Day The narrow tower that rises a further 200 feet above the Empire State Building’s roof was originally designed as a mooring point for zeppelin airships, once considered the future of international air travel. Empire State Building Fast Facts Opening hours: 9AM-10PM Monday-Thursday; 9AM-midnight Friday-Sunday. The last elevator ascends 50 minutes before closing. Check out our blog on the best times to visit the Empire State Building here. Tickets: general admission to the Empire State Building's 86th-floor observatory is included with a New York Pass. Alternatively, you’ll find various ticket options, including premium champagne packages and access to the 102nd floor, on the Empire State Building website. Closest transport links: the nearest metro stations are Herald Square and Penn Station, or arrive in style at the awesome Grand Central and make the 10-minute walk from there. But how does the Empire State Building compare to SUMMIT One Vanderbilt? Let’s find out... SUMMIT Name: Officially SUMMIT One Vanderbilt to hammer home that the platform is at the very top of the One Vanderbilt building in Midtown.  Age: SUMMIT opened in October 2021, making it (at time of writing) the newest observation platform in town. Fittingly, the building that hosts the immersive, space-age SUMMIT experience is a soaring futuristic wedge of steel, glass and terracotta tiles. SUMMIT in a Nutshell: It’s testament to SUMMIT’s desire to add something new and unique to the observation platform scene that the resulting experience is somewhat tricky to summarize. There are the views of course: great, sweeping panoramas over Manhattan’s iconic skyline and beyond. But what makes SUMMIT really stand out are the dreamlike immersive experiences and cool art installations within; all clouds, mirrors and optical illusions that will – if the PR blurb is to be believed – help you ‘escape the boundaries of perception’. SUMMIT: Vital Statistics  Height: One Vanderbilt is the fourth tallest building in New York (disclaimer: at time of writing), standing 1,401 feet (427 meters) high. SUMMIT’s observation platforms hover a knee-weakening 1,100 feet (336 meters) above Madison Avenue. Number of floors: 93. Elevators: 42. Visitors: SUMMIT welcomed a whopping 1.4 million visitors in its first year. What’s the SUMMIT Experience Like? This one isn’t just about the views. A standard ticket also includes access to SUMMIT’s trippy journey through mirrored rooms, floating silver orbs and clouds bearing your own face. Transcendence sets the scene with reflective surfaces that repeat the Manhattan skyline, the clouds and, well, you, to infinity. Enter a dreamlike state as you pass through Unity and Affinity before experiencing the ultimate thrill in Levitation, a series of perspex boxes that protrude from the building and seem to float above the city streets, affording heart-stopping views of Madison Avenue 1,063 feet below. You’ll also bag some of the best snaps of the Empire State Building and Lower Manhattan from up here in the clouds. Requiring an additional ticket, Ascent takes thrill seekers higher still aboard (and we can’t stress this terrifying detail enough) glass-bottomed elevators that rise a further 120 feet into the sky. Fascinating SUMMIT Fact of the Day Ok, it’s hardly a crowded field, but the great glass elevators that rise 120 feet above the SUMMIT terrace are the largest of their kind in the world. SUMMIT Fast Facts Opening hours: 9AM-midnight, year round. Last entry is at 10PM. Tickets: there are several booking options available on the SUMMIT website. Closest transport links: the entrance to SUMMIT is located on the main concourse of Grand Central Terminal. SUMMIT One Vanderbilt vs Empire State Building: Which Should You Visit? Apart from the fact that these both boast observation platforms some 1,000 feet (and then some) up in the sky. SUMMIT and the Empire State Building are really quite different prospects. Visitors who crave old school New Yoik vibes should definitely plump for the Empire State Building’s selfie-tastic Art Deco lines and angles. Indeed, this century-old stalwart is worth visiting for the bragging rights alone. If, however, you fancy something a little different, it has to be the hypnotic futurism of SUMMIT’s immersive zones and its gravity defying glass platforms that permit fearless visitors to gaze straight down to the street far below. Save on New York Activities and Attractions Save on admission to dozens of New York attractions, including the Empire State Building, with The New York Pass. Check out @NewYorkPass on Instagram for the latest top tips and attraction info.
Stuart Bak

NYC Veterans Day Parade

Veterans Day has been celebrated since 1919, one year after the end of the First World War. That means this is the 100th anniversary of the event. It takes place every year on November 11. New York City's Veterans Day Parade is the largest in the country. Veterans Day is when we honor those who've served their country. It's important to appreciate that without the men and women who have given their lives, and the ones that put their lives on the line every single day, you probably wouldn't be reading this right now. And if you're in New York and want to show your appreciation, then you should definitely come and support the Veterans Day Parade. Here's everything you need to know. When is the Veterans Day Parade? This year, the parade will be held on Monday, November 11. The Opening Ceremony begins at 11am, and the parade itself will start at 12 noon. It takes around 30 minutes. Where is the Veterans Day Parade? The Opening Ceremony is held inside Madison Square Park, by 24th Street & Fifth Avenue. The Parade will then head north up Fifth Avenue from 26th to 46th Street. Why you should go Well, it's a great way to show your appreciation for everyone that's defended the United States. Over 25,000 people including veterans from all eras, marching bands, floats, and other groups join the march, so go show your appreciation! It's a great way to spend your holiday. And go grab a coffee beforehand to keep yourself warm. And, if you're feeling hungry after the celebrations, how does a burger sound? Delicious, we imagine. Looking for other ways to show your appreciation on Veterans Day? Considering paying your respects at the 9/11 Memorial. How are you planning on celebrating Veterans Day this year? Are you attending the NYC parade? Let us know below.
Dom Bewley

Fall Review: 5 Must-See Art Exhibitions in NYC

New York City is an art mecca, home to some of the most prestigious art museums in the world. Although the Metropolitan and the Museum of Modern Art are great -- the city is chock-full of smaller galleries and lesser-known museums which house hidden gems. By compiling a list of unmissable exhibitions currently or about to be on display, we hope to provide an insider's guide to the best contemporary art exhibitions NYC has to offer. Fight-or-Flight Where: Swiss Institute, currently showing through Dec. 29 Who: Jill Mulleady What: A conceptual exploration of the building itself, Fight-or-Flight is a multi-media exhibition by Los Angeles artist, Jill Mulleady. It features a fictional narrative of the land the Swiss Institute stands upon. Beyond the art, the space itself is a must-see. Originally built to house a bank in 1954, the structure has been converted into a multi-floor gallery. Situated right in the heart of the once-punk, now-trendy East Village, the Swiss Institute is the kind of noncommercial space (entry is always free) that rarely exists today. The gallery remains relatively unknown so therefore it is a must-see for contemporary art lovers. Specifically, Mulleady's show evokes questions of what New York was and what it will become. EVERY DAY I PRAY FOR LOVE Where: David Zwirner Gallery, Nov. 9 - Dec. 14 Who: Yayoi Kusama What: Yayoi Kusama is a globally renowned artist. She is best known for her use of polka-dots and her forever Instagram-able Infinity Mirror Rooms. A product of a difficult childhood, Kusama has suffered from hallucinations from an early age. What does she see? You guessed it, lots of dots. She rose the ranks of the contemporary art world in the 1960s. Her work is deeply personal; she's gone on record stating that creating art has kept her from committing suicide. EVERY DAY I PRAY FOR LOVE will debut new installations, paintings, and sculptures by the 90-year-old artist, and of course - a new room. Her exhibitions are always a huge draw (the gallery told ArtNews they're suspecting over 100,000 visitors) and space is limited; so be sure to get there early before the line gets too long. You'll feel very local standing in line in Chelsea, New York's art district - we promise. Basquiat's "Defacement": The Untold Story Where: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, currently showing until Nov. 6 Who: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, and more. What: Even after his death, Basquiat remained one of the most famous artists in the world. Born and raised in New York, he's become synonymous with the city itself. Basquiat's rags to riches story captivated the art world. He ran away from home at the age of fifteen, sleeping in local parks. But by the mid-1980s, he was one of the most popular artists alive. This exhibit specifically focuses on how social injustice shaped the artist's life. The centerpiece of the exhibition is The Death of Michael Stewart, a painting that commemorates and protests the killing of a graffiti artist by NYPD officers. Also on display is work by the late artist's contemporaries (and other distinct New York personalities), Keith Haring and Andy Warhol. The exhibition serves as a portal into the Downtown art scene of yesterday; however, with its theme of social justice, it also feels chillingly current. Additionally, the Guggenheim Museum is an iconic building. Because of its circular, Frank Lloyd Wright design, the art house is one of the most famous buildings in the world. Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall Where: Brooklyn Museum, currently showing through Dec.9 Who: Mark Aguhar, Felipe Baeza, Morgan Bassichis, Anna Betbeze, David Antonio Cruz, and more. What: This year marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which took place at the Downtown gay bar of the same name. A police raid of the local drinkery turned into a protest and marked the beginning of the modern gay liberation movement. A few months ago, New York hosted the World Pride Parade to commemorate how far the community has come. Now it's the art world's turn. Featuring work from over twenty post-Stonewall artists who identify as LGBTQ+, this multi-media exhibition provides an exciting glimpse into contemporary queer art. Looking forward as opposed to looking backwards, No Promised You Tomorrow is a bold testament to collective resilience and required viewing for straight and gay folks, alike. Partial View of the Whitney Biennial 2019 Where: Whitney Museum of American Art, currently on display until Oct. 27 Who: Selected artists from the previous Biennial. What: As the title suggests, the Whitney Biennial comes once every two years and provides a snapshot of what's going on in the contemporary art world. Taking over four of the museum's six floors, the massive exhibition is arguably the most important art event in America, because it introduces curators and audiences to lesser-known artists. Being featured in the Whitney Biennial can make or break your career. Sadly, the 2019 Biennial has officially closed. But the museum has left a smaller distillation of the art extravaganza up for display on the sixth floor. We couldn't think of a better way to close the year than looking at the future of American art. As a bonus, the museum is also located at the foot of the Highline. The once above-ground subway line has since been converted into a public park, and provides a beautiful view of the Chelsea neighborhood. And if you're hungry, you're not far from the Chelsea Market, a massive indoor food court.
Go City Expert

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