Empire State Building shows off new $165 million observatory

The world-famous observatory atop the Empire State Building has a dizzying new look with floor-to-ceiling, 360-degree windows 102 floors above New York City. (AP)
Updated 11 October 2019

Empire State Building shows off new $165 million observatory

  • The remodeled observatory opens to the public Saturday
  • The $58 cost to get to the observatory at 380 meters above Fifth Avenue has not changed

NEW YORK: The observatory atop the Empire State Building has a dizzying new look with floor-to-ceiling, 360-degree windows 102 floors above New York City.
The remodeled observatory opens to the public Saturday. It was unveiled to the media Thursday.
More than 4 million annual visitors to the 1931 Art Deco skyscraper — about 60 percent from abroad — will be offered an unobstructed view of the city and far beyond through panoramic floor-to-ceiling sheets of glass. They replace old windows that were half the size.
For a nocturnal view of New York, visitors have until 1:15 a.m. to take a new, high-speed, translucent elevator to the 102nd floor. Now visible from the interior on the way up are the building’s tower lights, whose colors change daily to celebrate holidays or people.
On the way up to the high new perch are an additional 10,000 square feet (930 sq. meters) of fresh exhibits, including a replica of the moving hand of King Kong, the monster gorilla in the 1933 film that climbs the building, plunging to its death amid an attack by Helldiver military planes.
Also on display are photos of actors in movies shot there.
The $58 cost to get to the observatory at 1,250 feet (380 meters) above Fifth Avenue has not changed. But now, visitors are promised shorter lines that have often stretched out onto Fifth Avenue, spilling into an elbow-to-elbow lobby crowd before even getting into an elevator.
The entrance to the observatories has been switched to the side of the building on West 34th Street, where added security stations help move the crowd along. Tickets may be purchased at electronic kiosks installed only last year, in addition to online purchases.
The building also has remodeled its famous open-air observatory on the 86th floor, which still requires a $38 ticket. Walls were opened between the interior space and the open-air terrace so city views emerge immediately after exiting the elevators.
The four-year project cost $165 million and was financed by Empire State Realty Trust Inc.
Remodeling was a daunting task, said project manager Robert Krizman.
Workers mounted metal baskets suspended outside the 103rd floor, wearing harnesses attached to the building. From there, they removed defunct broadcast antennas weighing 200 pounds each, jutting out from the top and bottom of the old windows.
Their work station was an aluminum and wood cocoon ringing the 102nd floor for months while the old walls were demolished.


Is Egypt close to finding Cleopatra’s tomb?

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Updated 55 min 5 sec ago

Is Egypt close to finding Cleopatra’s tomb?

  • Rival theories hold key to solving mystery of queen’s burial crypt

CAIRO: More than 2,000 years after her death, Cleopatra — the enigmatic queen of the pharaohs — is creating a riddle for archaeologists desperate to find her tomb.

Conflicting reports and news stories on the undiscovered burial crypt are making the search for the elusive tomb increasingly confusing.

Foreign media claim the recent uncovering of two mummies in Egypt will help in the hunt for the tomb, a puzzle that continues to elude archaeologists.

The UK newspaper The Guardian reported that two mummies of high-ranking individuals who lived during the same period as Cleopatra were found 30 km from Alexandria, the Egyptian city overlooking the Mediterranean.

The newspaper said that although the burial chamber was hidden for 2,000 years, the mummies were in poor condition due to water leaks.

However, a source in the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities said that the discovery reported by The Guardian is not new and happened several years ago.

Evidence revealed that the mummies were originally completely covered in gold leaf, a luxury granted only to those from the highest class of society.

Archaeologists say the two may have known Cleopatra herself.

Many Egyptologists believe that Cleopatra’s tomb is located in Alexandria, where she was born and ruled from her royal palace.

The city was destroyed in A.D. 365. Experts believe the last remnants of the tomb could be about 50 km away in the ancient temple of Taposiris Magna, built by the Ptolemies, the Greek rulers of ancient Egypt, in the Nile delta.

The temple is said to contain hidden paths and tombs. Cleopatra’s tomb is thought to be located there, decorated with gold leaf. Researchers say the tomb will answer 2,000-year-old questions surrounding her death.

However, Salwa Hussein, a professor of Greek and Roman antiquities at Tanta University, said that there is no scientific evidence of her burial in the region.

Cleopatra was no ordinary person, and her tomb must be in a more important and visible place, he added.

“She was the last queen of Egypt and one of the most famous rulers in history. She married the Roman emperor Julius Caesar and fell in love with his minister, Antonio. The queen committed suicide with Antonio in 53 B.C. after the Roman leader Octavian captured her in Alexandria,” Hussein said.

According to the legend, Cleopatra directed servants to smuggle snakes into her cell, which poisoned and killed her.

Zahi Hawass, an Egyptian archaeologist and former minister of state for antiquities affairs, hopes there are further attempts to locate the tomb.

“We have only discovered 30 percent of Egyptian antiquities. The rest have not yet been discovered. We are very close to finding the right location for the tomb. We hope we are on the right track,” he said.

Hawass said he believed Cleopatra and Antonio were buried in the same grave.

However, a number of Egyptian archaeologists disagree.

According to the book “Alexandria ... the Library and the Academy in the Ancient World” by Mohamed Abdel-Moneim Amer, Cleopatra’s tomb was not far from the tomb of Alexander the Great.

Alexander’s tomb in Alexandria, said to be made of gold, was taken by Ptolemy XI in 101 B.C. and replaced with a glass sarcophagus.

Amer said that Cleopatra lived in an era of droughts, as evidenced by valuables found in the tombs of her family.

Archaeologist Alaa El-Shahat said that Cleopatra’s tomb, as well as the rest of the tombs of the Ptolemaic kings, are located in the royal district in the middle of modern-day Alexandria.

The district was home of royal palaces and theaters, such as Kom Al-Dikka, the Roman theater.

El-Shahat said it was possible that the tomb is located in a central neighborhood.