Empire State Building vs. One World Observatory: what to visit?

Empire State Building vs. One World Observatory, which one should you visit? Here are the key elements to help you decide which of these two New York skyscrapers to visit.

Empire State Building vs. One World Observatory: height

Both observation decks offer a magnificent high-rise view of the city, among the highest in New York.

One World Observatory is on the 100th, 101st, and 102nd floors of One World Trade Center, the tallest building in New York!

The Empire State Building observation deck is on the 86th and 102nd floors. Ticket prices vary depending on the floor chosen and the time of day. More detail about prices is below.

High-rise view Empire State Building
High-rise view from Empire State Building

Empire State Building vs. One World Observatory: high-rise view

Who has the best high-rise view? Empire State Building or One World Observatory?

The Empire State Building sits in the heart of Manhattan. It was built in 1931. This skyscraper is among the oldest towers in New York. You will have a superb high-rise view of lower Manhattan from the Empire State Building. The 86th floor is an outdoor platform, while the 102nd floor is indoor.

The view from One World Observatory will be different. Here you will find yourself in the south of the island of Manhattan, in the financial district of New York. From here, you will have a magical view of the entire island of Manhattan (with the Empire State Building) and New York Bay (including the Statue of Liberty).

Good to know! One World Observatory does not have an outdoor space. Therefore, if you visit New York when the weather is cold, One World Observatory is probably a better option. But if you want to do part of the visit outside (86th floor), the Empire State Building offers this possibility.

High-rise view One World Observatory
High-rise view from One World Observatory

Empire State Building vs. One World Observatory: History

The Empire State Building is a mythical skyscraper in New York! It was built in 1931 and remained the tallest building in the world for decades. The Empire State Building reflects the popular architectural style of its times: the Art Deco style. Therefore, visiting the Empire State Building has an interesting historical aspect.

The history of the One World Observatory is linked to a tragic event, the 9/11 attacks. The September 11 Memorial and its museum are at the foot of this tower. One World Observatory is a much more recent observation deck than the Empire State Building.

Empire State Building vs. One World Observatory: price

The prices to go up to the Empire State Building vary according to the floors chosen and the time of day. The lowest Empire State Building fare (i.e., daytime 86th-floor visit) is about the same price as the One World Observatory fare. Other tickets to the Empire State Building cost more than One World Observatory.

You can compare the rates yourself. Here they are, from cheapest to most expensive:

  • Climb to the 86th floor of the Empire State Building: book tickets
  • Visit One World Observatory: book tickets
  • See the sunset from the 86th floor of the Empire State Building: book tickets
  • Climb the 86th and 102nd floors of the Empire State Building: book tickets

Tip!ย As the Empire State Building is one of the must-see places in New York, it is often included in city passes. Thanks to the city pass, you can benefit from a reduced rate and save money. For example, the CityPASS includes the Empire State Building and Top of the Rock. See here the New York City pass comparison.

In summary

These two observation decks offer to see New York differently! On one side, the birth of New York City as we know it, and on the other, the revival of New York.

Moreover, as the Empire State Building and One World Center are opposite, these two visits can complement each other perfectly.

However, how to choose between the two? Opt for a visit to the Empire State Building if you are keen on the old New York and One World Observatory if modern buildings interest you more.

If you want to see the Empire Building, read our article: How to visit the Empire State Building. And if you are still trying to decide, discover the best observation deck in New York in our article.


Whichever you choose, Empire State Building or One World Observatory, the high-rise views will be stunning, and you will love your visit! These two skyscrapers are among the best places to visit in New York City.

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