It all felt completely wrong.
I stood at the entrance to that long hall, and the ticket-sellers’ windows were at the other end of it. The space in between seemed filled with miles of loosely-hung stretches of purple ropes that gripped onto their metal guardians as they waited to passively guide the tourists along their snake-like circuit to the ticket sellers at the other end of the room.
But I was the only one in the room.
And so it all felt completely wrong. This was, after all, the Empire State Building — one of the most famous tourist sites in one of the most visited cities on Earth. How could it be that I was the only one negotiating my way, somewhat self-consciously, along those purple ropes?
And that was the question I asked of the ticket seller as I handed over my dollars.
“It’s quiet now,” she said. “But come back later and there will be people queuing for two hours or more to see the view from the top of the building at sunset.”
Ah! So that explained it. I was there at an unpopular time of day. People who are in the know come at sunset.
Frankly, I wasn’t going to be one of them. Standing for hours among those purple ropes is close to my idea of hell so I was quietly pleased with my otherwise spontaneous decision to visit the building at that unpopular time.
I couldn’t have taken this photograph if the eightieth floor of the Empire State Building were crowded, but it beautifully captures my own contemplative experience of this birds-eye view of New York City.