The Creative Behind the Must See Empire State Building Observatory Tour

Client profile
The Empire State Building is one of the world’s most famous skyscrapers, standing at 1,454 feet in the Midtown area of New York. Over 3.5 million people visit the art deco building each year to enjoy the panoramic views.

The Empire State Building is a New York icon receiving millions of international guests each year. Wanting to update their existing audio tour, which featured a stereotypical New York cab driver sharing the history of the building, the Empire State Realty Trust (ESRT), the building owners, sought to create fresh, updated content that fully explored each unique area of the building.ESRT wanted to develop a new tour that would educate guests on the Empire State Building’s history and architecture; add insights on an exciting new green initiative; share the building’s commercial real-estate side, providing value to the building tenants; and engage visitors with the surrounding areas in Midtown Manhattan.

Their goal was to create a state-of-the-art tour of the 80th and 86th Floors & Observation Deck, in multiple languages, with multimedia capability.


Over the past five years, Antenna International has successfully worked with ESRT to update and improve the self-guided multimedia tour of the Empire State Building by creating a completely bespoke user experience.

When Antenna and ESRT first began working together, Antenna produced new audio and multimedia content for the tour, which was distributed on-site on Antenna multimedia tour devices.

Later, when smartphone use became more popular and common amongst the Observatory’s visitors, Antenna expanded the on-site tour to a bespoke downloadable app for iOS and Android devices, as well as a responsive website. Visitors can now either access the multimedia tour via the website, or by downloading the app onto their own devices. This multimedia guided tour, available in 9 languages, features key aspects of the building that ESRT wishes to highlight.

The first part of the audio guided tour focuses on the building’s sustainability initiative and cutting-edge eco-friendly technology, honoring the Observatory’s reputation as the ‘greenest building in NYC’.

The second part of the tour, located on the 80th floor, celebrates the history of the building, it’s construction and architecture, and the people who built it.

In addition to this rich history lesson, the guided audio tour dives into the commercial real-estate side of the building, opening up a whole new conversation in regards to the Empire State Building. Visitors get to see a completely different side of the building, learning about the building tenants who occupy the other 84 floors.

The third stop, the 86th floor and observation deck, is the highlight of the bespoke tour, helping visitors to interpret the magnificent 360-degree NYC views through a landscape panorama. The panorama explores visual points of interest with unique audio-visual content.

One especially nice touch is tailored visuals, with images and video changing according to the time of day, cleverly reflecting daytime, dusk, and evening, depending on when the visitor is in the building.

The multimedia tour guide also features contemporary and interactive content, such as a video of recent light shows, like the Fourth of July.

In addition to building a bespoke app and responsive website, Antenna has also provided the Observatory with tour data and analytics. This data analyzes the visitor experience, showing what stops are most popular, which content has the longest listening time, and which pieces of content are most responsive within the fun-facts and quiz portions of the guide.

Lastly, the visitor-centric tour has social functions, where members can share images on Facebook directly from the app.


ESRT’s work with Antenna has evolved over the years to provide the best tour experience for Empire State Building visitors. Beginning their journey with tour content and on-site devices, they have embraced the digital age with Antenna’s aid, via the creation of a self-guided app and responsive website.

The Observatory is pleased with Antenna’s ongoing partnership and evolving work. Also pleased are the Observatory’s guests:

  • “The audio tour from the observatory is a must; download it on your phone…You can also learn details about the energy-saving measures put in place.” Visitor, Carthage, Mississippi U.S.
  • “The audio tour explains the layout of the city so clearly.” Visitor, Dubuque, Iowa, U.S.
  • “Take the time to download the app and bring headphones to listen to the guided audio tour of the city. The audio tour provides everything you need to know about NYC and the surrounding areas from a historical and present-day standpoint.” Visitor, Hamilton, Canada

Contact us to find out more about this or any of our projects

Contact Us
Empire State Building Observatory
Country: United States
City: New York
Institution Type:
Year Founded: 1931
Content Type: Audio, Multimedia
Tour Type: Adult

Partner with Antenna

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About Us

We are innovative storymakers and creative technologists devoted to visitor-first experiences.

We make audio tours, mobile apps, multimedia guides, podcasts, interactives, and superior story-driven content for the museum and cultural sector.

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