February 11, 2012 marks the grand opening of the Empire State Building’s 102nd floor Observatory. After a lengthy renovation, visitors will again be able to view the Big Apple from its most iconic height. If you haven’t visited this American landmark for some time or have never been, it is the best it has looked since 1931, when it was first completed. After a $550 million modernization initiative, the Empire State Building sparkles again.

Much of the shine comes from the restoration of original Art Deco design elements. The lobby has been recreated, while adding a state-of-the-art visitor processing system. Experts worked for two years to revive the 1930s aesthetic, which over time had been degraded. In the 1960s, for instance, the installation of a dropped ceiling hid a beautiful mural and chilled the lobby with fluorescent lighting; bland acrylic inlays replaced intricate glasswork lining elevator banks and side corridors. Artisans used photographs and sketches of originals at the Corning Museum of Glass to recreate over 12,000 linear feet of the historic glasswork.

Other touches impress. In the lobby, fresh marble replaces pieces lost or damaged over the years. A new Visitor Reception Desk glitters in the 34th Street lobby corridor; behind its marble slabs gleams a glass installation, featuring an illuminated wall mural. And working from original drawings, Rambusch Studios fabricated the ornate chandeliers once planned for the second floor pedestrian bridges along the 33rd and 34th Street lobby corridors, but never installed.

On the wall mural within the Fifth Avenue main lobby entrance, the anemometer, part of the original design, has been restored, with its weather station on the 86th floor equipped with modern technology.

Of course there’s always, and foremost, the unprecedented view. Take time to absorb the dazzle and glow of New York City. Or try the self-guided Tony’s Audio Tour for entertaining stories and trivia. Its seven, three-minute segments correspond to seven numbered views from the Empire State Building Observatory. Tickets for the audio tour available at the Observatory ticket office on the 2nd Floor.

Empire State Building • 350 Fifth Avenue New York City, NY.

Open daily 365 days a year. 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. 7 days a week. Last elevators go up at 1:15 a.m. Adults $22 – Children $16 – Children under 5 free.

WHERE TO STAY: The five star Setai Fifth Avenue hotel, which stands almost 60 stories high and is mere blocks from the iconic Empire State building and book with us for great rates, complimentary upgrades on select dates and a 30% discount for spa treatments if staying by April 30th, 2012.

The Gansevoort Park Avenue, a hotspot for celebrity stays is also a short walk away from the Empire State Building. Book with us and enjoy waived Adult Fees ($75 value) and every room category booked you will receive delicious rewards from a bottle of wine, handmade chocolates, to your own monogrammed robe.

The Eventi Hotel, a 4.5 star property close to the skyscraper, is ideal choice for a guest who wants something modern, hip and fun, something a little unusual that is sure to leave a lasting impression. Enjoy a complimentary hosted wine reception each night of your stay.

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