Empire State Building

B and O on the Empire State Building!We paid a visit to the Empire State Building Saturday night. Glad we got that out of the way early.

The thing about the Empire State Building is, if it wasn’t one of those things you have to do when you visit New York, I’d tell you to chuck the whole thing. The view off the top is amazing, but getting there is a genuine pain in the ass.

The pain starts before you even get to the entrance. There’s a small army of guys with credit card machines deployed all over the streets around the building, selling express tickets to the top, and they’re not very good at it. They want yiou to guy their tickets, which are better than general admission tickets, but they can’t really tell you why, or at least the guys who tried to sell tickets to us couldn’t.

What they should have said was, “If you buy a ticket from me, you won’t have to stand in a line to get your bags x-rayed while bossy guys in jackets yell at you. You won’t have to stand in another line to buy tickets, and you won’t have to stand in a line after that to get your picture taken, which they’ll try to sell to you on the way out. You’ll be able to take an elevator straight to the 80th floor where you won’t have to stand in a line waiting to take the elevator to the observation deck, waiting for the people in line ahead of you to take their photo with the guy dressed up as King Kong. Your trip to the top will take about twenty minutes instead of an hour and twenty minutes. Don’t you think that’s worth an extra twenty bucks?”

It’s not worth it to me, because I’m a cheap bastard, but that’s how they should sell it.

The lobby of the Empire State Building looks exactly like it did in Sleepless In Seattle, but that’s the only part of the building that looks like it did in the movie. There isn’t any kindly old man working the elevator; they’re all run by remote control by liveried employees who look very, very tired. And the observation deck doesn’t have wide open terrace where a half-dozen or so sightseers take a leisurely stroll. The deck is maybe six feet wide, and it’s packed shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of people, several dozen of whom are carrying very unhappy children. This is not a place where you can spend a quiet, reflective moment.

That said, we had a pretty good time, except for the loudmouth yelling, “Belts and jacket off! Belts and jackets off!” at the people waiting to get x-rayed at the end of the first line. That guy’s gotta go.

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