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With its needle-like shape piercing the Manhattan skyline, the Empire State Building is symbolic of the great heights to be scaled in pursuit of the New York City dream. The world's most famous office building has featured in over 250 movies from 'King Kong' to 'Sleepless in Seattle' where it has been the catalyst for both on- and off-screen romance.

Completed in 1931 after just 18 months of construction, the 130-storey, Art Deco-style Empire State Building consists of limestone and granite with strips of nickel that glint in the sun. There are two observatories at the 86th floor (320m high) and 102nd floor (381m high), which afford a panoramic vista of the city and as far away as New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

To get to the 86th floor observatory, you'll need to go through the security and ticket lines and then the line for the elevators. The first observation deck offers an indoor and outdoor deck with high-powered binoculars to check out the view. Another elevator will take you to the enclosed 102nd floor gallery which is quieter so you can check out the view from New York City's highest public point in peace. This immensely popular attraction attracts the requisite queues so it's worth booking online to save time. Main Deck + Top Deck tickets are US$42 for adults and US$36 for kids aged six to 12. To skip the queues, consider a Main Deck + Top Deck Express ticket for US$64.50 each.

Of course, after all those rom-coms the Empire State is impossibly romantic so if you do plan to meet a certain someone at the top, be aware that the last elevator goes up at 1.15am. At night, the top 30 floors of the Empire State Building glow with the new, state-of-the art LED lighting system with a possible 16 million colours to mark holidays and special occasions. To add to the mood, live music plays from Thursdays to Saturdays from 10pm to 1am. To visit, the closest subway is at Penn Station/34th Street via the 1, 2 or 3 lines and then a six-minute walk down West 33rd Street.