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 hanging onto metal guardians – the purpose of which was to guide tourists along a 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 I felt confused. 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 didn’t care. 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.
This image was the first thing I saw as I walked out of the lift – or is it elevator? There was a calm peacefulness in that space that belied the hurley-burley of the city below. 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 that intense and fascinating city, New York.