Empire State Building
- Location: 350 5th Ave., Manhattan, NY. By subway, take the B, D, F, M, N, Q or R trains to 34 St-Herald Square. Head east for one block on 34th St to the entrance. Taxis or buses are options as well.
- Agency: Empire State Realty Trust
- Elevation gain: Between 86-102 floors
- Best season: Year-round
- Recommended guidebook: Lonely Planet New York City (Travel Guide)
- Recommended gear: Pennies to drop off the deck; Red Sox or Patriots-themed clothing should you decide to repair to a nearby establishment for a gentlemanly cocktail with the locals following the hike
- USGS Topo Map: Brooklyn
- Rating: “I got your rating right here, pal!”
Although technically not within the city limits of Los Angeles, the Empire State Building is a landmark that is instantly recognizable to So Cal hikers. The first known ascent was made by the Kong Party in 1933 via the Exterior Route but since then hikers have favored the Interior Route, as described below. (The Elevator Route, another option, has the drawbacks of requiring hikers to stand in line with tourists and then being crowded into the car with said tourists. The ear-popping that results from the rapid altitude change is another caveat of the Elevator Route, especially with children.)
The hike begins in the Empire State Building’s newly refurbished art-deco style lobby. When you reach the 21st floor, you may be ready for a break from climbing; feel free to swing by the offices of Shutterstock, the leading online library of stock photography, and ask them why they seem to be accepting fewer and fewer of NHLA founder David Lockeretz’s images with each passing year.
The 86th floor features an outdoor observation deck with views of all five of New York’s boroughs and across the Hudson to New Jersey. This is a popular turnaround point, although some hikers continue to the 102nd floor where an enclosed deck offers more views.
If you enjoyed the Interior Route of the Empire State Building, consider a visit to the nearby 42nd St/7th Ave. Open Space Preserve (Times Square on some maps.)