Empire State Building observatory reopens with new 360-degree view

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The view from the highest observatory at New York's Empire State Building just got even better

The view from the highest observatory at New York's Empire State Building just got even better (AFP Photo/Johannes EISELE)

New York (AFP) - The stunning view from the highest observatory at New York's Empire State Building just got even better.

On Saturday, the viewing platform on the 102nd floor, known as the "top deck," reopens with a new 360-degree perspective on the Big Apple following ten months of renovations.

The work is the third in a four-step project, which started four and half years ago, to improve the experience at arguably the world's most famous building.

The entire project is costing $165 million.

The redevelopment of the observatory, which sits at 1,250 feet (381 meters), began in January.

Walls that were over 3.6 feet (1.10 meters) high and blocked part of the view have been replaced by glass.

The elevator shaft is now also made of glass, allowing visitors to enjoy the view before the doors even open.

The fact the elevator is see-through means people can enjoy a panoramic view of the city from wherever they stand in the observatory.

"This space had obstructions and the strategy behind the renovation of the 102nd floor was to remove as many of the obstructions to allow visitors to take in the view in a much earlier phase," said Jean-Yves Ghazi, head of the observatory.

"This is the spot to experience New York City from the heart of it all," he added.

The first two phases of the development focused on reducing queues by creating separate entrances for visitors and staff and opening a new museum on the first floor.

The final stage will see the opening of a new observatory on the 80th floor, to be finished by the end of the year.

The 86th floor observatory, known as the "main deck" and featured in countless movies, lets visitors to venture outside.