New York: Empire State Building

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Our second last day in New York, including the Empire State Building, and an NBC tour.

Today was probably the latest start to the day. It can be quite exhausting when you stay up until 1 in the morning watching Friends re-runs. I wanted to be at the Empire State Building by 11 a.m., and let’s just say I woke up at that time.

Despite my efforts to get the days rolling, we were able to get to the building by noon. This was achieved by avoiding a Tim Horton’s run. I realize that The Top of The Rock gets way busier at night, but we did not have to buy tickets to come back at another time. We were able to proceed straight through to the security gates.

We immediately entered the second floor without standing in any lines, and without learning about any stupid trees. It was nice to get the ball rolling this time. The second floor has an exhibit, but I wasn’t really interested in taking my time there. Honestly, you can easily find the same information online. We were then shot up to the 80th(?) floor, where there was a second exhibit. Can you guess whether or not I took my time looking through it? DEFINITELY NOT. I learned enough from Ted Mosby.

After the exhibit, we climbed the next 6 floors to the observation deck. The stairwell was pretty small, and I was getting more nervous the higher we went. I have never been a fan of heights, and after Top of The Rock and the glass windows on deck, that feeling had remained unchained. Despite my weak stomach, I thoroughly enjoyed the observation deck. Yes, it was pretty packed by 1 p.m., but I had no probable waiting on the inside (the safest part, not doubt) for my chance to take some pictures.

The weather was perfect. There was a little bit of wind, but there were uninterrupted views of the city:

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Keep in mind, I don’t like to travel with a camera. I used my S3 on this trip and it was already at the end of its life, so it’s safe to say that these COULD have been better with a cheap point-and-shoot camera.

Let’s just say I didn’t feel the need to stand up there for too long. Although Empire State gives the best Views of the city, I was ready to move on with the day and we headed over to 30 Rock for the NBC Tour. Once there, we purchased tickets for a tour at 4:30. While waiting, we took a short walk and ate at Bill’s Bar & Burger. Although it was pretty commercial, Bill’s had a bit of a classic burger joint feel to it. I also enjoyed it because it was the only place where I didn’t have my ID checked.

The NBC tour was pretty good itself. I liked that we were being shown places where people were working around us the entire time. The tours are led by interns who have to work their asses off in school, just for the opportunity to work in the building. Our guy actually looked like this:

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(Via: http://www.seriesadictos.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/0000035035_20061021051619.jpg)

The tour is worth it if you are TV obsessed, I think. You get to see the sets that aren’t currently in use. I think they took us by Dr. Oz first. I knew they were small, but the were a lot smaller than I thought. The stages were all tiny, and the tour showed us how they utilize different camera angles to make the set seem bigger than it really is.

We also went by Good Morning America, where we were shown how quickly they have to change out their sets during the commercial breaks, as well as how much work has to go into making all the colours work for the broadcast. I would never want to spend my life picking out different shades of white…

The best stop on the tour was the Saturday Night Live studio. Even just walking down the hallway and seeing all the pictures of the people involved was pretty cool. The SNL sets were the smallest out of everyone else. The sets were under construction for the next weekend, so we weren’t able to go on the floor. However, stopping there made the entire tour worth it for me. As someone who lives off of comedy (sometimes awful comedy shows), I was thrilled to be there. That’s probably the closest I will ever get to being an actual audience member. If I remember correctly, you basically go into a lottery to get the tickets. If you win, you get the date given to you, so be prepared to be incredibly flexible if you ever want to go.

Overall, the tour was good. If you were only going to be in New York for a couple of days, I suggest skipping in. You can always get your “Troy and Abed In The Moooooorning” shirt at the store. If it’s a rainy day it might not be a bad idea to check it out.

Note: You can easily get tickets to Seth Myers if you want to see a taping. Getting tickets to see Jimmy Fallon is a waste of time, unless you like wasting your day in line. Not only do you have to get in line early in the morning for non-guaranteed tickets, you also have to come back in the afternoon about 2 hours before the taping begins. Odd’s are you will be part of multiple shows, so be prepared to sit there for a long time. Again, if you are strapped for time, don’t waste your day trying to see a taping.

On our way back to SoHo, we quickly stopped by Grand Central Station, where I snapped arguably the most awful picture this place has ever been a part of:

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As cool as it was to see thousands of people walk through there within that short hour, I was very disappointed in Grand Central. The station it beautiful and grand, but I think a large part of that grandness has been taken away (via commercialism). I remember walking in and being very impressed until I turned around to head up the nearest staircase. At the top of the stairs I was met with an Apple store. Now, I am sure they make a lot of money off of Apple leasing/buying their space, but it doesn’t change the fact that it turns that space into a retail joke. Things got exciting for a bit when someone passed out on the floor in the same corned as me. It was crazy to see people scrambling around her, but paramedics were there in no time.

All in all, it was a decent second last day in NY, but it came with it’s fair share of disappointment. If you find yourself there, don’t get your hopes up on certain sights and just go with the flow.

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Categories: New York, United States

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5 replies »

  1. I talked to people who have liked CN Tower better than Empire State Building. I would not know- have not been to either place. In the US everything is hyperbole and hype. They have mastered that.

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