Happy birthday to you: New York’s iconic Empire State Building is 80 this year.

Thinking of going to New York before the end of the year? Amongst the must-sees on your list will be the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Times Square, Central Park and of course the views from the Empire State Building, which are the city’s highest and best. And if you visit this year, it’s party time, as the building celebrates its 80th birthday.

But first you need to overcome a few hurdles; the queues are infamously long and there are four of them. You queue to get tickets, queue for security checks, queue to get the lift up and again to get the lift down, reports BBC Travel. Cut queuing time by either going at 8am opening or between midnight and 2am closing time. If you’re willing to splurge, an extra $24 will get you an Express Ticket and to the front of each queue. Alternatively, at least avoid one of the queues by buying a normal ticket in advance online for a $2 fee.

Once in, enjoy the recently spruced up Art Deco lobby, the revamped observatories and the retro-style Empire Room bar that opened last year offering a classic Empire State Cocktail. The marble lifts will take you to the 86th floor observatory where you have 360 degrees of unobstructed views, can look down on the nearby Chrysler Building and on a clear day see five states. An extra $15 will get you to the more exclusive 102nd floor, but the views from both are just amazing.

For some it may be an over-priced tourist trap, but the Empire State Building is undoubtedly a symbol of New York City: classic, resilient and ambitious and has provided the backdrop in films such as An Affair to Remember, Sleepless in Seattle and King Kong. Building began just after the 1929 Wall Street Crash and it was nicknamed ‘The Empty State Building’ on opening, as less than half the space was occupied.

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